Transforming education, aiming for collective intelligence
Rather than simply reciting what they have memorized or being mere listeners to their teacher, students at Benedictine International School on Capitol Hills Drive in Quezon City, are encouraged to be more critical and look at things from different angles and perspectives for any given topic.
Students are urged to engage in critical thinking even if they are seated in a U-shape arrangement or clustered to enable them to work in pair or in small groups with the teacher serving as facilitator.
“This is Systems Thinking, an approach that incorporates instructional tools to enhance learning about literature, history, current events, and science, and uses exercises to train students to think differently. We allow our students to look at the whole of something, the individual parts of that whole, how those parts make the ‘whole’ what it is and how one action to a piece of the system can affect the entire thing,” explained Joan Marie Rose Bondoc-Antonio, the school’s executive vice president and coordinator for student affairs.
First in PH
She added that as the country’s first educational institution to adopt Systems Thinking in its curriculum and mode of teaching, Benedictine International School is aiming to produce graduates who see the world with a better lens as well as provide them with a greater grasp of why things happen a certain way.
“One excellent example is understanding the interdependencies within our natural systems, a key that could unlock deeper awareness about how we are connected to our environment, said Eric Cruz, one of the school’s mentors. “The tools and habits of Systems Thinking help our students to identify when their or others’ short-term solutions may have dangerous long-term consequences,” he added.
Among the proponents of Systems Thinking, and whose idea the school applied, is
Peter Senge, an American systems scientist who is also a senior lecturer at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and founder of Society for Organizational Learning.
Senge believes that the smartness we need is collective. He explained: “It’s not about ‘the smartest guys in the room’ but about what we can do collectively. So the intelligence that matters is collective intelligence, and that’s the concept of ‘smart’ that I think will really tell the tale.”
Bondoc-Antonio related, “After our administrators attended a seminar sponsored by the Society for Organizational Learning-Philippines, we decided to send our teachers to Portland, Oregon, to attend Senge’s summer camp that enabled them to gain more insight as well as how to effectively implement the system here.”
According to her, the school administrators found it necessary to make a change considering developments in the real world has left schools playing catchup.
Bondoc-Antonio concluded: “We decided that it would take a whole-system approach to meet society’s evolving needs. The seminars on Systems Thinking had sparked much thought about our school’s future contributions to the community.”
She further explained that since employing Systems Thinking, the Benedictine International School students, with different backgrounds, skills and attitudes, work together more intelligently. “In one of our classes, students are empowered to work together to model, test ideas, and solve real global problems from a local community perspective. If that sounds challenging, it is. And yet, our students are able to bring broad range of ideas to the table. Indeed, when we value everyone’s unique perspective, expect high performance and better results.”
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