The purpose of this article is to report on "Systems Thinking" in geography learning through a content analysis of the Japanese Course of Study's "Integrated Geography (IG)" subject in high school and documents regarding geographical education and Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) from home and abroad.
First, the history of high school geography is outlined, and questions related to the implementation of IG are posed. Next, descriptions of Systems Thinking in the Lucerne Declaration on Geographical Education for Sustainable Development, published by International Geographical Union-Commission on Geographical Union, Educational Standards in Geography for the Intermediate School Certificate by the German Society of Geography, and Framework for the UN-Decade of ESD (UNDESD) International Implementation Scheme by UNESCO are analyzed. Finally, IG is examined from the perspective of Systems Thinking.
Geographical learning fosters understanding of geographical phenomena by focusing on the relationship between the natural environment and human activities, in order to nurture actors who can build a sustainable future. Furthermore, when considering approaches to ESD, developing Systems Thinking can also be positioned as a learning goal. The main learning content related to the above goals is the relationship between natural and social-economic systems. Based on an understanding of this concept, inquiring and solving issues related to sustainability and SDGs is also important. It is thought that the learning process through which students consider geographical phenomena from geographical perspectives – including interdependent relationships between humans and the natural environment and spatial interactions – contains the perspective of Systems Thinking. To achieve the learning goal of developing Systems Thinking, it seems that the geographical education is adaptable and suitable for its use.
In response to the agenda of the "United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development 2005-2014", the Commission on Geographical Education of the International Geographical Union published the "Lucerne Declaration on Geography Education for Sustainable Development" in 2007. This Declaration outlines the "Human-Earth" ecosystem, and details how the systems approach can be applied to value-oriented geography learning, based on "Sustainable Development," as a common good. Hence, the present study examined the "Human-Earth" ecosystem shown in the "Lucerne Declaration"from a systems approach viewpoint. It also highlighted trends in the holistic visions related to sustainable development, as well as trends in systems approaches in the environmental education program. In addition, this study revealed that the "Human-Earth" ecosystem can be used as a guideline on how to envisage a space of a certain area as a system, and how to apply the systems approach as a thinking tool.
Systems thinking is a main basic concept for school geography, however, its implication in daily school geography learning is still unknown. This article offers an overview on competence in educational science and geography education since 1970s. German pedagogue H. Roth developed a competence model and its influence on geography educator H. Köck. The competence was goal-setting theory, but not empirical with evidence at that period. Since 2000s, education scientist F. E. Weinert defined competence renew and geography educator A. Rempfler has developed test items in the framework of Geographic System Competence and conducted empirical validation process.
This paper analyses the test items to get some information about the gap between academic empirical validation and implementation at school geography. Author found that characteristic as text description and model drawing in terms of systems thinking. Through discussion of some findings, this paper introduces some implementation options based on Geographic System Competence.
In recent years, the interest in International Baccalaureate (IB) education has been increasing even in Japan due to the results of research in the educational circles and requests from the business community. The Japanese Government also aims to increase the number of IB accredited schools to over 200 schools by 2020. In addition, the course of study for junior high school, published in March 2018, seems to be considerably similar to that of IB.
In this article, I will examine how the systems thinking is developed within the IB geography class, and how it differs from the past examples of practice, through an analysis of the practical case of the Middle Years Programme (MYP) "Individual and Society".
The results are shown as follows. Instead of letting students learn a part of systems competencies, IB keeps track of the process of systems competency through inquiry activities. Moreover, we will increase each individual competency by formative assessment. By doing such learning in other subjects, students can acquire competency that can be diverted in various situations of daily life and society.
The purpose of this paper is to consider the effect of introduction of systems thinking to the geography class in high school. Recent year, systems approach has received the attention as the teaching methods about Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). When conducting regional investigations, it is possible to advance one's thoughts on how one's solutions influence each region if one sees regional issues using systems thinking. Without systems thinking, on the other hand, it may not be possible to advance one's thoughts beyond one-track perspectives and points of views that do not take into account the relationships between various sectors of specific regions. This paper starts by providing an overview of fieldwork as a regional investigation method from the perspective of geographical skills, based on its categories. Then it presents the target regions, provides reports on actual cases in class using systems thinking, and analyzes its positioning in the new course of study as well as questionnaires conducted on students who participated. As a result, it became clear that systems approach's string of findings is able to contribute to the new course of study of "Integrated Geography". It was also confirmed that the introduction of system thinking in finding and solving issues in geographical investigations is an effective method in Geography, which contributes greatly to ESD, as it provides perspectives for building of a sustainable society.
The importance of the concept of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) was specified in the Basic Plan for Promoting Education, ten years ago. This concept of ESD is an integral part of Integrated Geography, which is a new compulsory subject in the geography and history curriculum for high school, announced in 2018.
While teaching high-school geography, I have included the perspective of ESD in my classroom practices. Specifically, I have taught disaster prevention geography. This is done as an exercise which involves thinking about natural disasters as local issues. I have also taught geography as a means to prevent crime. This is the geographic study of decreasing the likelihood of crimes. I believe that my classes about disaster and crime prevention, which incorporate the perspective of ESD, can help to cultivate systems thinking. This thinking takes a systematic perspective that combines human activities with the natural and living environments, as well as a systemic perspective that broadly considers overall society and lifestyle. I believe that one's ability to think and judge in real life scenarios can be improved by applying this systems thinking to other phenomena.
This study identifies results and issues that became apparent through my classroom practices. It also suggests key points that need attention and the direction for nurturing and utilizing systems thinking through ESD in future geography education. I feel there is a need to develop teaching units that make one think about the improvements that can reduce overall risk. This requires systems thinking that comprehends the situation as it is at that time. It should also help one to perceive broader causal relationships of the changes that are brought about by initiatives taken in one place, perhaps in the form of a risk trade-off perspective.
"Ozone hole" is handled as an environmental issue in high school geography since the past, which is usually depicted as happening at the South Pole, increasing UV (ultraviolet) light, and caused by CFC (chlorofluorocarbon) emission by developed countries. Yet, the question why the damage happens in the south despite most CFCs are emitted in the North hemisphere receive very few attention and coverage. However, the issue would be a good topic for inquiry-based learning instead of just an environmental issue if we approach the course systematically from the emission of CFCs to the appearance of the ozone hole. In this study I positioned a lesson as a learning-unit of "International cooperation and issues of earth" under the newly introduced subject "Integrated Geography" and practiced it.
The results are as follows: 1) the method of evaluation for learning outcome remained a problem, whereas four inquiry-based learning objectives were achieved; and 2) it is necessary to examine whether using systems thinking could be suitable for learning dealing with cultural or religious phenomena.
In this paper, the author reported the teaching practice of high school geography about the unit "Inquiring the World through Chocolate" towards solving global issues and participating in society.
Specifically, he has emphasized on the inquiry process from recognition of spatial interdependence to social participation by using tools of systems thinking which are called ‘Developing Compass Rose' and ‘Relation Structure Diagram' in teaching practice. The results of teaching practice are as follows.
As for five stage's competencies about systems thinking to be aware of global issues, students have acquired the four competencies step by step with the progress of teaching. These four competencies are grasping the issues generally, finding the solution of issues, finding the relationship of oneself with in society and facilitating the individual's transformation. However, as for the last stage of competency which is facilitating the social transformation, students couldn't acquire it sufficiently.
As for the problems in the near future, the author will try to develop the teaching plan for putting emphasis on competency facilitating the social transformation and keep on teaching practice to inspect its results, in order to establish ‘problem-based geography learning/education' which aims to promote students' social participation based on scientific recognition and systemic thinking.