OneThing18: Barry Richmond’s model of the learning process

What Barry Richmond can teach us about how students might become Systems Citizens

Barry Richmond - creator of STELLA and systems citizen

A few years ago, I spent two days with Barry Richmond when he and I teamed for a workshop with a handful of teachers in Norwalk – La Mirada Unified School District.  Evenings, I sat with him and listened to his work in systems, his sense of how system dynamics was working in schools, and his stories of his family.  Before that time, Barry had come out to Portland to help us with Sym♦FEST, a gathering of middle and high school students who shared models and participated in workshops.  At that time, Barry revealed to us that the work our students were doing “floods [my] heart.”

Let’s now take a look at the complete model as he mapped it.  Previously, I talked about portions of this in OneThing15 and OneThing17.

Barry's full model integrates all aspects of the learning process

First, note the symmetry and rondure of his map.  It is easy to read, open, and clear.

Second, he mapped a continuous, closed-loop process.

Third, his core assumptions are embedded in brief narratives and systems iconography.

Fourth, note the clean delineation among the elements:  constructing, simulating, and communicating. And Barry’s clear connections, both information (dashed connectors) and action (solid connectors).

Fifth, and the core assumption of this model, the student is doing the work.  The so-called “Other-Inspired Learning” (in schools, we called this “teacher instruction”) is off to the side.  Barry captured what students are actually doing as they learn.

Sixth, and last (for now, at least), the Communicating sector of this model is often the one omitted from most school’s models.  And even if it is part of a curriculum, it does not capture what Barry describes here: “making the model elements, structures and outcomes available for scrutiny.” In such a constructivist model, the learner is apprentice in a small shop (classroom) observed by a master (teacher) who counsels and critiques the apprentice’s work – in this case, not a repaired shoe or a beveled weld or plumbed toilet, but a thought about how something works.

To close, I offer this link to isee systems tribute to Barry


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