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International Review of Education

, Volume 59, Issue 6, pp 771–791 | Cite as

Seeing wholes: The concept of systems thinking and its implementation in school leadership

  • Haim Shaked
  • Chen Schechter
Article

Abstract

Systems thinking (ST) is an approach advocating thinking about any given issue as a whole, emphasising the interrelationships between its components rather than the components themselves. This article aims to link ST and school leadership, claiming that ST may enable school principals to develop highly performing schools that can cope successfully with current challenges, which are more complex than ever before in today’s era of accountability and high expectations. The article presents the concept of ST – its definition, components, history and applications. Thereafter, its connection to education and its contribution to school management are described. The article concludes by discussing practical processes including screening for ST-skilled principal candidates and developing ST skills among prospective and currently performing school principals, pinpointing three opportunities for skills acquisition: during preparatory programmes; during their first years on the job, supported by veteran school principals as mentors; and throughout their entire career. Such opportunities may not only provide school principals with ST skills but also improve their functioning throughout the aforementioned stages of professional development.

Keywords

Systems thinking School leadership School management 

Résumé

Voir des ensembles : le concept de la pensée systémique et son application à la gestion scolaire – La pensée systémique est une approche qui préconise la réflexion sur toute question donnée en tant qu’ensemble, et qui valorise les corrélations entre ses composantes au lieu des composantes elles-mêmes. Cet article vise à mettre en rapport la pensée systémique et la gestion scolaire, partant du principe que la première peut permettre aux directeurs de développer des écoles hautement performantes et capables de relever avec succès les défis actuels, plus complexes que jamais dans notre époque marquée par l’imputabilité et des attentes élevées. Les auteurs présentent le concept de la pensée systémique – définition, composantes, historique et applications. Ils décrivent ensuite son rapport avec l’éducation et sa contribution à la gestion scolaire. Ils concluent par une analyse des applications pratiques, par exemple la sélection des candidats aux postes de direction qualifiés en pensée systémique, et le perfectionnement de ce type de pensée chez les directeurs actuels et futurs. Ils signalent enfin trois opportunités pour la transmission de cette compétence : dans le cadre des programmes préparatoires, au cours des premières années d’exercice avec le soutien de collègues expérimentés servant de mentors, enfin tout au long de la carrière. Ces opportunités peuvent transmettre cette compétence aux directeurs d’école, mais aussi améliorer leur action à chaque étape mentionnée de leur évolution professionnelle.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht and UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ramat HagolanIsrael
  2. 2.School of EducationBar-Ilan UniversityRamat-GanIsrael

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