System Dynamics In Education: Failures Of the Current System

By Mario deSantis, March 21, 1999

  My son Eric is attending grade 12 in Nipawin, Saskatchewan, and his experiences are a testimony of the
course material presented out of context shortcomings of our educational system. Last semester, he took a class in physics and the related
textbook included the description of the concepts of distance, velocity and acceleration through the
mathematical understanding of the derivatives. At that time, my son was not taking Calculus yet and
I mentioned how inappropriate this textbook was for the students. At the beginning of this semester,
Eric, concerned that a teacher was marking his assignments down, asked him why he would receive
such mediocre marks. The teacher mentioned that he told the students five times what to expect in the
classroom and that Eric was marked down because he didn't listen; Eric became disenchanted by this
  incident and decided to drop out of the related course.
  These experiences are typical of our students and point to the shortcomings of our educational system
imparting of knowledge as a transfer of independent facts from the authoritarian teacher to compartmentalize the curriculum courses and to conceptualize the imparting of knowledge as
a transfer of independent facts from the authoritarian teacher, the only source of knowledge, to
the passive attentive students. When our students score statistically low grades in literacy standardized
tests across Canada, the remedy is more of the same: another curriculum! This new curriculum--per
se--will effect "...improvements in higher order skills..."(1) What a shame and run around we must
bear from our governmental bureaucrats and politicians. After a "...mea culpa..."(2) in healthcare,
it is now the turn for "...reinvestment in education..."(3) Our politicians and bureaucrats don't
  understand yet that cultural changes are not a matter of money but a matter of mind(4). This
regurgitation at examination time brainwashing educational philosophy to conceptualize knowledge as an objective reality to be dumped
into the physical brains of students for their later regurgitation at examination time is carried forward
to the university level(5). Our students in Saskatchewan are becoming the copycats of North America
and if we don't stop this obsolete educational philosophy our students will become the proud successors
  of our tin pot dictators(6)(7) (8); isn't it scary? Does anybody care? I care, and my children care, we
  don't want to become the servile copycats of these shameful tin pot dictators.
  In our previous articles we explained how we construct our own knowledge through our perceptual
a learner centred classroom realities and how the proposed educational approach, System Dynamics, would establish a unifying
foundation for the different fields of study. The implementation of System Dynamics in our
educational system would provide a rich environment compatible with the most progressive educational
  philosophies(9) of a learner centred classroom, where students work together along with their teachers
  and use their imagination and shared knowledge to build models--virtual realities--of our world.
  In the next article, I will be describing a simple model constructed through the VENSIM software
  package and at this time I want to introduce the terms: system, structure, and behaviour of the system.
  A system is the model created through an iterative and participative approach and it is composed of a set
  of elements interacting continuously over time. The elements of the system are called variables and their
  relationships and connections to each other form the structure of the system. Finally, the behaviour of
  the system refers to the way the variables change over time.


Sask. Students score low grade in literacy, By Kevin O'Connor, The StarPhoenix, March 11, 1999, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan


Mea culpa prelude to election, by Mark Wyatt, The StarPhoenix, FORUM, March 19, 1999, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan


Provincial election can't be far behind, by Bonny Braden, The StarPhoenix, March 16, 1999, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan


Systems Dynamics in Education: Thinking Differently, February 21, 1999. Published in the North Central Internet News


Unconventional Knowledge, by Mario deSantis, July 19, 1998. Published in the North Central Internet News


Hiding behind gag orders too common, SP Opinions, previous last sentence of the article, The StarPhoenix, Page C4-Weekend Forum, February 6, 1999, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan


U of S hassles force early exits, by Robert A. Carlson, The StarPhoenix, March 11, 1999, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan


Saskatchewan Tin Pot Dictatorships: Lack of Integrity Is Lack of Leadership, by Mario deSantis, February 8, 1999. Published in the North Central Internet News


Project Zero's research programs span a wide variety of ages, academic disciplines, and sites, but share a common goal: the development of new approaches to help individuals, groups, and institutions learn to the best of their capacities.