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The Systems Thinking School


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Table of Contents

Foreword Preface Prologue The Systems Thinking School Chapter 1 Systems Maintenance Chapter 2 A Systems Thinking Approach Chapter 3 The Systems Thinking Process Chapter 4 Wicked Problems, Schools, and Systemic Change Chapter 5 Wicked Problems and Loopy Solutions Chapter 6 Applying Single-loop Strategies to Double-loop Problems Chapter 7 Reform and Variation as Wicked Problems Chapter 8 Child Development, Customer Care, and Adaptive Systems Thinking Chapter 9 The School as an Interconnected Learning Process Chapter 10 Mixed-Age Mentoring Chapter 11 What Schools Say: Lessons for Managers Chapter 12 Building the Systems Thinking School Chapter 13 Assessment for Learning Chapter 14 Concluding Remarks Bibliography

About the Author

Peter A Barnard has been involved in education for over 40 years as a successful high school principal, trainer and writer. He is a passionate advocate of vertical tutoring as the managerial means of both understanding and meeting the many challenges that schools face internationally.


Peter Barnard draws upon his extensive leadership experience to lay out a provocative and stimulating approach to school improvement. Calling for no less than a revolution in the way we think about schools, Barnard demands rigor and intellect from those charged with leading the education of the next generation. But this is theory grounded in practice and will be an invaluable tool to anyone interested in making our schools better. -- Sir David Bell KCB, Vice-Chancellor University of Reading
At the heart of Peter Barnard's groundbreaking but striking analysis of the industrial school model, is a plea to stop tinkering with peripheral parts, reforms and add-ons, and to see each school as a complete organisational system in its own right. In his book, Barnard unlocks the secrets of the Industrial model's longevity and shows schools how to self-organize and be interconnected. Only by understanding and then abandoning the industrial model and its effects can there be renewed purpose and relevance in the C21st. This book shows schools and administrators precisely what is wrong and how to put it right at no cost! -- Dr. Tony Breslin, Chair, Human Scale Education, Founder, Transform Education
This book represents a comprehensive demolition of many of the orthodoxies and assumptions that have dogged educational leadership for years; not least the factory system of education where we blindly (and inhumanely) batch and process children according to their date of manufacture. What makes this book so singularly impressive is that it is written from an academic, indeed an idealistic, point of view by someone who is intensely pragmatic: someone who's been there and got the `T' shirt. The book fizzes with ideas and has helped me to redefine and refocus on what is important in the school that I lead. -- Andrew Warren, Headteacher, Coleg Cymunedol y Dderwen, Bridgend, South Wales
Peter Barnard takes us on a journey that analyses how the linearity of the ubiquitous industrial school mode acts to place limits on teaching and learning. Using these insights we are presented with a litany of practical design ideas needed to create a learning organisation. He calls this vertical tutoring, a cultural change that inspires positive learning relationships, and which is at the heart of his vision for education in the 21st Century. We read his book and listened to what he had to say and as a result many aspects of our school have been transformed. -- Martyn Henson, Headteacher, the Nobel School, Stevenage, Herts., Former Vice Principal, Fortismere School, London

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