In this paper we suggest using general system theory (GST) as a unifying theoretical framework for “science and technology education for all.” Five reasons are articulated: the multidisciplinary nature of systems theory, the ability to engage complexity, the capacity to describe system dynamics and change, the ability to represent the relationship between the micro-level and macro-level of analysis, and the ability to bring together the natural and human worlds. The historical origins of system ideas are described, and the major concepts of system theory are mapped; including the mathematical, technological, and philosophical constructs. The various efforts to implement system thinking in educational contexts are reviewed, and three kinds of learning environments are defined: expert presentation, simulation, and real-world. A broad research agenda for exploring and drawing-out the educational implications of system thinking and learning is outlined. The study of both real-world and simulated learning environments is advocated.

Author: David Chen & Walter Stroup

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