Thursday 26 May 2011

Apply Systems Thinking In Town Planning

 In systems thinking, is it a goal to be a winner? The answer is not necessarily. The systems thinking concept is to train students to think differently. We want to enhance learning and would like "Making a Clean & Green Town" an exercise to train students to think differently.

A system can be anything – a novel, a historical event, a culture, a scientific formula. All are made up of different pieces that form the "system." In this case the system is a sustainable city. Students have to you look at the whole of what makes an eco-livable city, the individual parts of that whole city, how those parts make the "whole" city what it is, and how one action to a piece of the system can affect the entire thing.

Change those habits
Systems thinking in education helps develop students who can understand the value of other opinions, and see things from a different perspective. Ingrained assumptions that ultimately influence how we see things and what we do, can be a good place to start.

Assuming that an eco, liveable city is a clean, green, environmentally balanced is one that uses limited resources in a sustainable manner, recycle waste, manage water and reduce carbon emission would be the first idea formed.

Children in Singapore are fortunate to stay in this country, however, given a different scenario, they have to step out of their comfort zones and try new ways of looking at things.

"Making A Clean & Green Town" will give them this opportunity to engage more senses, retain the material and really get out of those comfort zones. They will then really appreciate a need for sustainable developments for their future cities. This gets them on more than one level. You increase the likelihood that these students will retain it, the more senses you engage.

As students who apply systems thinking, they develop certain "habits," or ways of approaching problems and situations. Hence, by applying their systems thinking lessons and tools they have learnt from school in "Making A Clean & Green Town" students will start to develop these habits.

The habits of systems thinkers include: considering long and short-term consequences of actions (such as, if you have a city that has to deal with waste, thinking both about what happens if you recycle and if you burn it); recognizing there might be unintended consequences to your actions; identifying the circular nature of complex cause and effect relationships (the transportation is a system, where the commuters needs the transport and the transportation cannot cause congestion or pollution); and looking at things from different angles and perspectives.

Creating a deeper understanding
Systems thinking isn't just about the tools to help students see the world with a better lens; it also can give them a greater grasp of why things happen a certain way. Things are circular in systems thinking, and recognizing the complex nature of cause-and-effect relationships can help students understand why things happen.

Using systems thinking approaches in "Making A Clean & Green Town" creates students who can see from another perspective and look deeper to why its very important to develop green and sustainable townships. If students develop those habits of thinking systemically, and they look at any global issue, they are going to ask different questions. They are going to ask questions with a broader perspective.

And this is when everyone will appreciate the need for liveable cities and it will be engraved in their hearts and minds and this is when we will have won.

The future or our cities lies in the hands of our youth! Let's start from now!

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