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Embracing Systems Thinking in Grade 10 Social Studies

In an effort to foster a deeper understanding of the world and its intricate connections, systems thinking has been added explicitly as an introduction to the Grade 10 Social Studies curriculum. The aim is to encourage students to explore the interwoven nature of things and appreciate its significance in achieving sustainability.

A New Perspective: Unveiling the Essence of Systems Thinking

Systems thinking might sound like a complex concept, but it’s all about looking at the bigger picture. To kick off this exploration, students began by breaking down the everyday task of ‘making toast’ into systemic detail. This process illuminated hidden layers of interdependence that often go unnoticed and helped students visualise the idea of thinking systemically. 

Connecting the Dots: Systems Thinking Meets Sustainability

The true value of systems thinking becomes apparent when it’s applied to bigger challenges. After dissecting their ‘toast’, students looked at examples of systems and the concept of sustainability and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). They applied a systems approach to reveal the necessary connectivity required for success with the SDGs. This was achieved using the Sustainability Compass. The Sustainability Compass tool played a guiding role, helping students visualize complex relationships and structures. 

Life Skills Beyond the Classroom

We are hopeful that the shift we have made this year will enhance students’ critical thinking and decision-making which will continue to develop through the year, whether analyzing historical events or developing plans to address current challenges. While systems thinking is a valuable addition to the classroom, its benefits extend far beyond the academic realm. Systems thinking gives students a roadmap to navigate complexities with confidence – the aim is for these skills to become invaluable assets for the students as part of their journey. This approach readies them to navigate the complexities of the real world and contribute to a sustainable future. We look forward to seeing their progress in the year ahead!

Picture of Matthew Wright

Matthew Wright

Matthew has been teaching since graduating the University of Sheffield, UK, in 2002. He spent the first 9 years of his career teaching KS3, GCSE and A-Level Geography at a range of schools in the UK Secondary system before taking the leap to go international. In 2011, he made the life changing decision to take up a post teaching IB MYP Individuals & Societies and DP Geography at the International School Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Prior to his current role as Head of Social Studies at the American International School Budapest, he was the Subject Area Coordinator at Tashkent International School, Uzbekistan. He currently teaches Social Studies to grades 9 & 10, and DP Geography. The Geography course launched, for the first time in the history of AISB, in 2022.

Picture of Matthew Buxton

Matthew Buxton

Matt Buxton originally comes from North Wales and has been an international school learner since the age of 4. After attending schools in Germany and Belgium and graduating with an IB Diploma, he has since worked as an international teacher in Vietnam, Indonesia and Uganda. He is now the DP Coordinator and teaches Grade 10 Social Studies at the American International School of Budapest.

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