by Ed Johnson
Much appreciation and gratitude to Jack Hassard for his “A Systems Thinker Reviews The Atlanta Public Schools’ Performance in Reading & Math.”
Dr. Hassard is Professor Emeritus of Science Education, Georgia State University, a former high school science teacher, and a writer and blogger. He blogs as “The Art of Teaching Science.”
I believe children are naturally born systems thinkers, that they arrive with systems thinking qualities such as compassion, empathy, love, esteem, dignity, ethics, cooperation, intrinsic motivation, and learning. Fortunately, some children have grown up with their systems thinking qualities having survived “forces of destruction” and consequently have helped us to improve as human beings. Just a few such well-known systems thinkers include Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, Fredrick Douglas, Abraham Lincoln, and Jesus.
That anyone would, on the one hand, espouse affinity with any of these persons and, on the other hand, impose or embrace a “Race to the Top Competition” can only bespeak, at best, political expediency or, at worse, utter hypocrisy.
We are also fortunate to have among us many, many unsung systems thinkers who are just as committed to sustaining the innate humanness we all share. Take, for example, Lynda Wolfe Smith, a former teacher in Atlanta Public Schools. In response to a recent e-mail of mine, Ms. Smith replied:
“High time to work together. No more racing!”
Ms. Smith’s beautifully clear systems thinking wisdom is well worth embracing this New Year and every New Year to come. Like the beautiful song that keeps running round in one’s head, “High time to work together. No more racing!” keeps running round in my head. May it start running round in your head, too.
Thank you, Ms. Smith.
Mr. Johnson, a resident of Atlanta's Cascade community, is an education advocate.