Educating Change-Makers

Engage Students in Their Learning and

Foster Their Power to Change the World.

Why Systems Thinking Schools?

Every student deserves the thinking skills necessary to learn and lead in tomorrow’s world. Our transformative Systems Thinking approach offers educators everywhere learning experiences to inspire nimble minds and agents of change.

What is
Systems Thinking?

Systems are linked entities organized to serve a particular purpose. Every system is also part of other, larger systems.

 

Systems Thinking is a way of seeing concepts, objects, and subjects as interconnected, rather than isolated. Understanding systems deepens and enhances learning.

L.A. Grown. Globally Known

Systems Thinking Schools is a program of the Wildwood Outreach Center at Wildwood School in Los Angeles, a world-renowned incubator of effective approaches in education.


Since 2000 we’ve assisted over 1,000 public and private schools globally to implement Wildwood-inspired, research-based teaching and learning that benefits all students.

Step into Our Classrooms

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Meet Our Experts

A cohort of classroom teachers and administrators at public and private schools in Los Angeles and around the country. We engaged in Systems Thinking practices and want to share with you.

Systems Thinking Schools Podcast

Listen to conversations with classroom teachers offering ideas and insights for making a systems learning approach work with your students… at any grade level..

Exceptional Professional Development

Our unique workshops provide curious educators opportunities to build and grow a systems thinking approach in the classrooms and schools.

What They Think About Us!

What Teachers Say About
Our Workshops

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STUDENTS

Systems Thinking enhances students’ abilities to think deeply, create knowledge, master course content, and affect change in their communities and their world.

Student-centered + equitable

Students’ prior knowledge, experiences, and perspectives are the foundation of success at a Systems Thinking School. Whether they receive general education or special education, whether they are native speakers or English learners, Systems Thinking thrives on all student abilities and backgrounds.

fosters deep learning

Students in a Systems Thinking School create knowledge, not just seek the ‘right’ answers. Systems Thinking provides students a common language and tools to ask questions and seek connections across subject-area boundaries, fostering the intellectual nimbleness they’ll need to master new topics and skills as they progress through school and adulthood.

Cultivates change-makers

With a deeper understanding of the connections, relationships, and perspectives of the systems all around them, students discover leverage points they can access to affect positive change in their classrooms, communities, and world– from crafting a more positive class culture to alleviating hunger and homelessness.

Systems Thinking is fun

Students enjoy the intellectual stimulation of systems thinking. A systems analysis of a character in a book, a math problem, or a global issue encourages student curiosity and discovery which they document in conversation, drawing, and writing.

TEACHERS

Systems Thinking Schools’ workshops and coaching assist educators everywhere to transform their practice to benefit student learning-- making teaching more relevant, joyful, and responsive to students’ needs while still adhering to required standards.

Respects how kids learn

Children naturally make meaning across subject-area boundaries, seeking connections everywhere in their learning. Systems Thinking allows each teacher to engage students by working with the way they already think: Sparking curiosity and creativity to build knowledge within and across disciplines.

Enhances effective practices

Project Based Learning (PBL) becomes more meaningful and Design Thinking engenders deeper empathy as Systems Thinking provides multiple entry points for learning and deepens understanding of complexities and perspectives. Its flexible implementation supports the Universal Design for Learning (UDL), easing differentiation in instruction and assessment..

Makes teaching fun (again)

Systems Thinking encourages freer, more joyful teaching; it is neither a program nor a prescriptive curriculum. Rather, it is a responsive framework that allows teaching to follow where student interest and learning take it– with destinations often focused on improving the classroom, the community, or the world.

Provides transformative PD

All Systems Thinking Schools workshops are designed to help participants shift their practice and how they view the world. Our facilitators and coaches are current and former teachers who continue to deepen their Systems Thinking skills by learning from their students, and each other. Come learn with us at one of our workshops or coaching sessions.

SCHOOLS

Systems Thinking spurs teacher collaboration, excites families, and engages all learners; it’s research-based and correlates with Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards.

Stimulates collaboration

Systems Thinking provides a common language and set of teaching tools to promote collaboration within and across grade-level and disciplinary teams. Becoming a member of Systems Thinking Schools connects teachers and administrators with a diverse network of practitioners who share ideas, insights, and successes.

Can improve student outcomes

Public schools that first adopted Systems Thinking report a correlation with higher state test scores and a greater re-classification of English Learners. Teachers at these Systems Thinking Schools also note more vibrant class discussions, student curiosity, and enthusiasm for learning since shifting their practice.

Inspires families

Parents respond positively to Systems Thinking: Hearing their children’s enthusiasm about learning and seeing the visuals they create to document it. Families welcome the intellectual edge that Systems Thinking will provide their children throughout their lives and the satisfaction that their school does far more than ‘teach to the test.’

Is research-based

Systems Thinking has had a long history within the natural and organizational sciences (see Donella Meadows and Peter Senge) and, more recently, in schools (see Cabrera & Cabrera and Curwen et al). It is also integral to the emergent field of Systemic Sustainability Education (see Davis et al) that can positively affect our world’s future.

PARENTS

You are your child’s first teacher; Systems Thinking thrives on the prior knowledge and experiences that you provide. Partnering with your school to bring this approach to their classroom enhances your child’s strengths and creates opportunities for their success, now and in the future.

Starts with you

The rich language, culture, and experiences students bring from home are the starting points of learning in a Systems Thinking classroom. The knowledge of the world you’ve provided your child becomes the backdrop for what they bring to their learning, enhanced and deepened as they progress through their schooling.

Is real learning

Your child’s success in school and in life requires the ability to think, not just memorize information; to make meaning, rather than fill in blanks. Learning at a Systems Thinking School engages students in creating knowledge and understanding not only what they are learning but why it’s important.

Empowers your child

Students in Systems Thinking Schools know that they can make a difference. By analyzing how natural and human-made systems work, students understand how the world works; from mathematics to science, from classrooms to the climate, Systems Thinking inspires children to use their knowledge to become change-makers.

Meets your child’s needs

Systems Thinking works because it adapts to the way your child learns. Regardless of learning style or need, teachers at Systems Thinking Schools employ a menu practices—reading, writing, drawing, conversation, movement, and more to help students create knowledge and confidently demonstrate what they’ve learned.

Examples of Systems Thinking

Fourth graders at Palms Elementary School identify, analyze, and diagram the systems that influence a story’s protagonist in order to gain a deeper understanding of a character (e.g., their relationships to other characters, institutions, their motivations, backstory, etc.)

 

Common Core State Standard: ELA-LITERACY.RL.4.3

 

Describe in depth a character, setting, or event in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., a character’s thoughts, words, or actions).

A Kindergarten teacher at Palms Elementary School uses the students’ interest in insects to launch a systems analysis of the interrelationship of butterflies with the plants they feed on. With their teacher’s assistance, they research and plant a garden to attract butterflies, observe and discuss anatomic systems, then craft diagrams that demonstrate how butterflies and plants relate with other systems (e.g., the water cycle, food chains, the solar system, etc.).

 

Next Generation Science Standard: K-LS1-1

 

Use observations to describe patterns of what plants and animals (including humans) need to survive.

More About Systems Thinking

Systems thinking encourages students (and their teachers) to uncover the interconnectedness of all knowledge and deeply analyze the systems that underlie everything from subject-matter learning, to interpersonal dynamics and cause-and-effect relationships. Systems Thinking illuminates how children view the world, encouraging their wonder, observation, analysis, and discovery of how everything works. Systems Thinking focuses attention on relationships–how our world’s natural and human-made systems are interdependent and interconnected. When fostered in schools, Systems Thinking transforms teaching and deepens student thinking as children make connections within and across disciplines. As students build their Systems Thinking skills, they more fully understand themselves and their relationships to their schools, their communities, and our world. This understanding drives students to ask new questions and seek new connections as they find deeper purpose in their learning. Systems Thinking empowers students as change-makers who know that they can affect positive change now and in the future, so that people and our planet can thrive.