WordThing1: system

Early results from tracking trash out of Seattle

Trashy System: movement of garbage from Seattle to its multiple final resting places throughout the Unites States. Click image for video.

We live IN systems.
We CREATE systems.
We ARE systems.

So what are they?

Donella Meadows’ definition is succinct and accessible:
A system is a set of things – people, cells, molecules, or whatever – interconnected in such a way that they produce their own pattern of behavior.

Here are two representations of a system: garbage collection and a population. One generated from tracking devices; the other a STELLA model. One is human created; the other, naturally occurring.

Is there enough in this model for us to understand a carrying capacity?

Simplified system map of a population dependent on a resource

Lots of pressures exert force on a system. But, each system has a characteristic response – a set of behaviors – to those pressures. Those behaviors reveal the ultimate purpose of a system.

In a school, multiple systems overlap, many of which a teacher or administrator have little control over. However, the school, obviously, is its own system . . . And the principal’s role is to monitor that system. In so doing, the principal keeps tabs on classrooms, the daily metric for the status of the system. More importantly, therefore, the focus of a principal’s work is not evaluation or assessment, but processes that help everyone improve.

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