Systems-Based Learning Courses

About Systems-Based Learning (SBL):

A fundamental problem with discipline-based curricula:

John Goodlad: “The division into subjects and periods encourages a segmented rather than an integrated view of knowledge.  Consequently, what students are asked to relate to in schooling becomes increasingly artificial, cut off from the human experiences subject matter is supposed to reflect.”  (A Place Called School, McGraw-Hill, 1984, p.266)

Peter M. Senge: “From a very early age, we are taught to break apart problems, to fragment the world.  This apparently makes complex tasks and subjects more manageable, but we pay a hidden, enormous price.  We can no longer see the consequences of our actions; we lose our intrinsic sense of connection to a larger whole.”  (The Fifth Discipline, Currency Doubleday 1990, p.3)

In matters educational, the phrase “paradigm shift” is overworked. But when systems thinking replaces the 1893 core curriculum as the primary organizer of what’s taught, “paradigm shift” is appropriate.

Systems-Based Learning courses draw content from familiar school subjects and firsthand experience, so they're also "reality-based learning." Systems thinking rather than the academic disciplines helps learners construct comprehensive, efficient, productive mental models of phenomena.

Professional educators rather than commercial publishers are better positioned to lead in creating and maintaining curricula. Collaboration requires dialogue. We encourage users to:

  • assume responsibility for improving existing SBL activities,
  • suggest additional and alternative activities,
  • play active roles in “localizing” and otherwise adapting the materials, and
  • explore and capitalize on cross-cultural insights and perspectives.
See “Discussions and User Feedback” on website pages for each course.
Note that all course materials on this website are FREE to educators for use with their own learners. No signups, no advertising, no strings.

For additional information and download links for each course, click on links in the upper-right box.