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                     SYSTEMS THEORY AND SYSTEMS APPROACH TO STUDY OF REALITY:

                                                      'SYSTEMS THINKING'

Holistic science and systems theory: the systems approach or 'structuralism'

theme: It is being discovered that not only is the reductionist scientific paradigm insufficient for the study of the physical world; it is insufficient for the study of human affairs as well. This shift in the dominant scientific paradigm and world view has profound implications for education... systems approach and complexity of learning: With a shift in paradigm to a systems approach, it becomes possible to view the learning process in all its complexity. Improvements in educational theory result in effective methodologies such as thematic teaching, whole-language approaches to literacy, and the integration of the curriculum

A scientific study of a wholistic reality emphasizes the 'whole-system perspective'. This approach requires an understanding of the interrelationships between the parts of the whole system. As an example, the evolution of organisms and the environment can best be understood within the context of a whole system in which the parts develop and evolve together.

 Critical to an analysis of educational policy is the following question: "Which worldview is shaping the goals of education?" Educational goals are shaped according to the metaphysical assumptions of a prevailing scientific paradigm or worldview. The most recent is that of 'systems theory'.

natural systems... properties of systems...  planet earth as a natural system...  Gaia hypothesis... acid rain...

implications for education...

SCIENCE IS A HUMAN ACTIVITY Through a process of enculturation in the course of human evolution and human history, people subconsciously experience reality in the context of a prevailing 'scientific' worldview. 'Science' is a human activity involving a perspective of the world. Beliefs are structured within the framework of the assumptions which form the basis for a given perception of reality.

In the context of the 'protosciences' of the ancients in Greece, people believed that natural phenomena could be explained by theological revelation and an understanding of the 'soul'. In the context of the domination of the Christian church of the medieval period in Europe and until the 18th century, people in Europe and North America were dominated by the worldview based on  concepts of 'oneness' and 'wholeness' as metaphysical notions in the realm of theology. With the Scientific Revolutionthe Christian belief  that the universe was set in motion by a Creator was incorporated into the new scientific theories  (Newton) concerning universal laws of motion. According to Newtonian mechanics, the universe was a giant mechanism made up of uniformly behaving bodies and forces and the laws of motion were determined by simple relationships between them.

Man was perceived as separate from nature and in a position to control it.

 'Science' was recognized as a human activity involving a set of basic metaphysical assumptions. First, the'observer' and 'observed are separate entities... objectivism; second, all complex phenomena can be explained in terms of simple ones... reductionism ; third, all scientific knowledge can be derived from physically measurable data... positivism ; fourth, it is possible to predict phenomena on the basis of scientific laws... determinism. Scientists made models of the physical world within the framework of these assumptions.Using the so-called  'scientific method', they postulated models or hypotheses and designed experiments to test them.They analysed  the data and reached conclusions which formed the basis of their description of the physical world. In this process of so-called 'logical empiricism' the observer of reality experienced the world objectively.

 Based on the well established assumptions of objectivism, reductionism, positivism and determinism, the methods of modern science have become established as an orthodox reductionist science...'scientism'.

 "As a philosophical doctrine, orthodox science is ethnocentric, being Western rather than universal." ( Maslow, A. The Psychology of Science: A Reconaissance. New York and London: Harper and Row 1961)

DETACHMENT OF THE OBSERVER Many scientists make the mistake of confusing the definition of modern science with the assumptions upon which it is based. They believe that any knowledge system which does not account for these assumptions must not be in the realm of 'science.' According to the worldview of reductionist science, scientific reality is perceived objectively without the participation of the observer. There is no recognition for the scientific reality of the human inner life. Scientific methodology is based on the assumption that the process of observation involves the detachment of the observer. Of great significance in the Western tradition, this quality of detachment from the objective world is the origin of the concept of individuality and individual freedom.

The price has been a sense of alienation from the outer world - a loss of the sense of 'oneness' with the universe, a loss of the wholistic perspective. In the extreme form of detachment, the individual treats other human beings as objects.

NO RECOGNITION OF THE 'INNER LIFE' ... effect on educational methodology or 'pedagogy'. Educational methodology which is formulated within the context of this worldview does not recognize the scientific reality of the human inner life. Pedagogocal principles have been formulated with a view to the learner's detachment in the learning process. In the past, the worldview of reductionist science has been shaping the goals of education. The scientific process of logical empiricism has shaped the perception of the learning process in education. With a bias toward completely 'objective' knowledge, scientific methodology has directly influenced the educational methodology. The aims of education have been formulated in terms of the acquisition and measurement of 'objective' knowledge. The assumption is made that cognitive knowledge can only be measured with 'objective' testing methods. The 'objectives' of classwork and coursework have been described in terms of test-taking skills and test performance. The value of knowledge has been measured in terms of its objectives and its usefulness. In the context of this scientific paradigm and worldview, the objective scientific reality of 'being human' is defined in terms of objective scientific reality. It is not defined in terms of the intrinsic nature and value of what it is to be human. Cognitive knowledge is not considered in terms of its intrinsic value to the development of the human potential. Nor is it considered in terms of the enrichment of the human life or the inner life. Educational policy formulated in the context of the modern scientific worldview disregards knowledge systems which are not considered to be in the realm of 'science.'

 At the turn of the century, the mechanistic view of the physical world was challenged by Einstein's theory of relativity and quantum theory.             

PARADIGM SHIFT There are indications that the basic assumptions of the reductionist worldview are being reexamined and a fundamental change is taking place. In the English speaking part of the industrialized world and in Northern Europe there is a shift in the scientific paradigm from reductionist science to wholistic science. This change consists of new trends away from linear perspectives and towards whole-system perspectives; away from cause-effect relationships and towards interrelationships; away from reductionism and towards wholism.

 Since the beginning of the twentieth century... new laws of integrated wholes have been postulated the laws of natural systems of organized complexity such as the universe, the galaxy, the solar system, the terrestrial biosphere, man's societies, man's environment, and man himself. A scientific study of reality which is wholistic emphasizes the 'whole-system perspective.' This approach requires an understanding of the interrelationships between the parts of the whole system... 'holistic perception'. In a wide variety of systems - biological, social, cosmological and others - the natural tendency for the evolution of ever larger and more complex wholes cannot be fully comprehended by analysing the constituent parts. Whether one considers a cell, a human being, a nation, or a world of nations, the whole is somehow greater than the sum of its parts. Within the framework of the wholistic paradigm, the observer focuses on the order, harmony and synchrony inherent in complex systems. Known as the 'systems approach,' the wholistic perspective views the interrelationships and unifying patterns within the complexities of natural systems. 

 Of wide interest in recent decades is the work of Ludwig von Bertalanffy. He describes the scientific exploration of wholism and the application of the systems approach to higher levels of organization. He outlines changes in science which have led to more 'wholistic' perspectives in general and describes the role of 'general system' approaches in particular. The 'general system theory' is the scientific exploration of the concepts of 'whole' and 'wholeness'.

The 'systems' approach is the 'wholistic' approach. A significant result of the introduction of a 'systems' or 'wholistic' approach to scientific methodology is the reorientation of thinking. The result is a new scientific paradigm known as 'system philosophy' which is based on the view of the world as a great organization or 'organism.' According to this new worldview, the sciences are conceptual systems which correspond with reality. .

 A system is perceived in terms of its own properties as a whole, over and above the properties of its parts. Perceived in terms of wholes or 'systems,' all natural phenomena are treated as 'natural systems.' 

NATURAL SYSTEMS The properties of natural systems are not reducible to the properties of the interdependent parts. The functioning of the whole is understood in terms of the constituent sets of integrated relations and interacting parts. The properties of the whole system are a result of the interdependence of its constituent parts. The general property of the whole system is something more than the sum of the properties of the individual parts. A proper understanding of the whole system is only possible with the recognition of its irreducible properties. Thus the properties of the atom, a natural system, are not reducible to the properties of the different parts of the atom. The functioning of the brain as a whole has irreducible properties. The same applies for all the other natural systems on different levels of organization, such as the molecule, the cell, the tissue, the organ, the organism and so on

Even the human personality as a whole can only be understood in terms of the integrated functioning of an individual's feelings, instincts, volitions, reasoning capacities etc.

.  Properties of systems: 'systems theory': Value of systems theory is that it makes it possible to explain the nature of properties which emerge from the systems i.e. 'emergent properties'.

 A proper understanding of the whole system is only possible with the recognition of its irreducible emergent properties.

A system is perceived in terms of its own properties as a whole, over and above the properties of its parts. The general property of the whole system is something more than the sum of the properties of the individual parts. Complex systems have ‘emergent properties’ that describe their characteristics as wholes and these properties are conditioned, but not determined by the constituent parts of the systems.

 A system is a configuration of parts connected by a web of relationships. The joining and integrating of the web of relationships creates properties that describe the characteristics of the system as a whole i.e. 'emergent  properties'. The emergent property is an irreducible property resulting from the integrated functioning of the differents parts. Emergent properties cannot be found by analysing the parts. Value of systems theory is that it makes it possible to explain the nature of emergent properties. Perceived in terms of wholes or 'systems,' all natural phenomena are treated as 'natural systems. The properties of natural systems are not reducible to the properties of the interdependent parts. The functioning of the whole is understood in terms of the constituent sets of integrated relations and interacting parts. The emergent properties result from the interdependence of its constituent parts.

Thus the properties of the atom, a natural system, are not reducible to the properties of the different parts of the atom. The functioning of the brain as a whole has irreducible properties. The same applies for all the other natural systems on different levels of organization, such as the molecule, the cell, the tissue, the organ, the organism and so on. Even the human personality as a whole can only be understood in terms of the integrated functioning of the individual's feelings, instincts, volitions, reasoning capacities etc.

Systems are subject to environmental forces  Natural systems are subject to the forces of a changing environment. As a whole and as a large system, the physical world approaches a state of ultimate disorganization. The quantity called 'entropy,' and its negative form 'negentropy,' is a measure of the energy available to the system. In any system, according to the Second Law of Thermodynamics, entropy increases and negentropy decreases with time.

A natural system which requires energy for the maintenance of a dynamic steady state is an 'open system in a steady-state' requiring energy for its maintenance in a changing environment. Characteristic of open natural systems is the maintenance of steady state equilibrium as opposed to 'inert equilibrium'. Living organisms are open natural systems which take in energies, metabolize and rearrange substances, and liberate energies in new forms which are used for self-maintenance and growth. The regulative mechanism of body temperature in warm-blooded organisms, known as 'homeostasis', is a clear example of an 'open natural system.' Other examples are the cells of an organism, the brain as an organ, man as a social organism and the planet earth as a gigantic organism.

Importance of systems thinking: mechanistic thinking is not appropriate for evaluation of complex systems.

 It is being discovered that not only is the reductionist scientific paradigm insufficient for the study of the physical world; it is insufficient for the study of human affairs as well. The study of human affairs - including education requires the 'systems thinking' of the science of wholes or 'holistic science'.

Wholistic science and systems theory: Structuralism and the systems approach: "The specialist concentrates on detail and disregards the wider structure which gives it context. The new scientist however, concentrates on structure on all levels of magnitude and complexity, and fits detail into its general framework. He discerns relationshps and situations, not atomistic facts and events. By this method he can understand a lot more about a great many more things than the rigorous specialist, although his understanding is somewhat more general and approximate." This is knowledge of 'connected complexity'.(Laszlo, Ervin. The Systems View of the World: The Natural Philosophy of the New Developments in the Sciences. New York: George Brazilier10) 

STEADY-STATE EQUILIBRIUM Natural systems are subjected to the forces of a changing environment. As a whole and as a large system, the physical world approaches a state of ultimate disorganization. The quantity called 'entropy,' and its negative form 'negentropy,' is a measure of the energy available to the system. In any system, according to the Second Law of Thermodynamics, entropy increases and negentropy decreases with time.

A natural system which requires energy for the maintenance of a dynamic steady state is an 'open system in a steady-state' requiring energy for its maintenance in a changing environment. Characteristic of open natural systems is the maintenance of steady state equilibrium as opposed to inert equilibrium. Living organisms are open natural systems which take in energies, metabolize and rearrange substances, and liberate energies in new forms which are used for self-maintenance and growth. The regulative mechanism of body temperature in warm-blooded organisms, known as 'homeostasis', is a clear example of an 'open natural system.'

Other examples are the cells of an organism, the brain as an organ, man as a social organism and the planet Earth as a gigantic organism.

    Planet earth as a natural system  

 

Within the framework of the wholistic worldview and the systems perspective, the planet earth is a natural open system, profoundly affected by human activities.               

"The beginning of the twentieth century witnessed the breakdown of the mechanistic theory even with physics, the science where it was the most successful. Sets of interacting relationships came to occupy the center of attention, and these were of such staggering complexity - even within a physical entity as  (photo: Mathei Wangari... Nobel Peace Prize) elementary as an atom - that the ability of Newtonian mechanics to provide an explanation had to be seriously questioned. Relativity took over in field physics, and the science of quantum theory in microphysics. The progress of investigation in other sciences followed parallel paths. Biology attempted to divest itself of the ad hoc dualism of a 'life principle' as it appeared in the vitalism of Driesch, Bergson and others, and tried to achieve a more testable theory of life. But the laws of physics were insufficient to explain the complex interactions which take place in a living organism, and thus new laws had to be postulated - not laws of 'life forces' but laws of integrated wholes, acting as such. Just as the science of economics proved to be incapable of explaining the rise of stock prices on the basis of the individual personalities of stockbrokers and the public, so the science of biology was unable to explain the self-preservation of the animal organism by recourse to the physical laws governing the behavior of its atoms and molecules. New laws were postulated, which did not contradict physical laws but complemented them. They showed what highly complex sets of things, each subject to the basic developments in physics, chemistry, biology, sociology and economics, contemporary science became, in Warren Weaver's phrase, the 'science of organized complexity'. Equipped with the concepts and theories provided by the contemporary sciences we can discern systems of organized complexity wherever we look. Man is one such system and so are his societies and his environment. Nature itself, as it manifests itself on this earth, is a giant system maintaining itself, althiough eventually all its individual parts get sifted out and replaced , some more quickly than others. Setting our sights even higher in terms of size, we can see that the solar system and the galaxy of which it is a part are also systems, and so is the astronomical universe of which our galaxy is a component. (Laszlo, Ervin. The Systems View of the World: The Natural Philosophy of the New Developments in the Sciences. New York: George Brazilier 12)

A system is perceived in terms of its own properties as a whole, over and above the properties of its parts. Perceived in terms of wholes or 'systems,' all natural phenomena are treated as 'natural systems.' The properties of natural systems are not reducible to the properties of the interdependent parts. The functioning of the whole is understood in terms of the constituent sets of integrated relations and interacting parts. The properties of the whole system are a result of the interdependence of its constituent parts. The general property of the whole system is something more than the sum of the properties of the individual parts. A proper understanding of the whole system is only possible with the recognition of its irreducible properties. Thus the properties of the atom, a natural system, are not reducible to the properties of the different parts of the atom. The functioning of the brain as a whole has irreducible properties. The same applies for all the other natural systems on different levels of organization, such as the molecule, the cell, the tissue, the organ, the organism and so on. Even the human personality as a whole can only be understood in terms of the integrated functioning of an individual's feelings, instincts, volitions, reasoning capacities etc. Natural systems are subjected to the forces of a changing environment. As a whole and as a large system, the physical world approaches a state of ultimate disorganization. The quantity called 'entropy,' and its negative form 'negentropy,' is a measure of the energy available to the system. In any system, according to the Second Law of Thermodynamics, entropy increases and negentropy decreases with time. he 'systems approach' views the interrelationships and unifying patterns within the complexities of natural systems. Of wide interest in recent decades is the work of Ludwig von Bertalanffy. He describes the scientific exploration of wholism and the application of the systems approach to higher levels of organization. He outlines changes in science which have led to more 'wholistic' perspectives in general and describes the role of 'general system' approaches in particular. The 'general system theory' is the scientific exploration of the concepts of 'whole' and 'wholeness'. The 'systems' approach is the 'wholistic' approach. A significant result of the introduction of a 'systems' or 'wholistic' approach to scientific methodology is the reorientation of thinking. The result is a new scientific paradigm known as 'system philosophy' which is based on the view of the world as a great organization or'organism.' According to this new worldview, the sciences are conceptual systems which correspond with reality. A system is perceived in terms of its own properties as a whole, over and above the properties of its parts. Perceived in terms of wholes or 'systems,' all natural phenomena are treated as 'natural systems.' The properties of natural systems are not reducible to the properties of the interdependent parts. The functioning of the whole is understood in terms of the constituent sets of integrated relations and interacting parts. The properties of the whole system are a result of the interdependence of its constituent parts. The general property of the whole system is something more than the sum of the properties of the individual parts. A proper understanding of the whole system is only possible with the recognition of its irreducible properties. Thus the properties of the atom, a natural system, are not reducible to the properties of the different parts of the atom. The functioning of the brain as a whole has irreducible properties. The same applies for all the other natural systems on different levels of organization, such as the molecule, the cell, the tissue, the organ, the organism and so on. Even the human personality as a whole can only be understood in terms of the integrated functioning of an individual's feelings, instincts, volitions, reasoning capacities etc. Natural systems are subjected to the forces of a changing environment. As a whole and as a large system, the physical world approaches a state of ultimate disorganization. The quantity called 'entropy,' and its negative form 'negentropy,' is a measure of the energy available to the system. In any system, according to the Second Law of Thermodynamics, entropy increases and negentropy decreases with time

A natural system which requires energy for the maintenance of a dynamic steady state is an 'open system in a steady-state' requiring energy for its maintenance in a changing environment. Characteristic of open natural systems is the maintenance of steady state equilibrium as opposed to inert equilibrium. Living organisms are open natural systems which take in energies, metabolize and rearrange substances, and liberate energies in new forms which are used for self-maintenance and growth. The regulative mechanism of body temperature in warm-blooded organisms, known as 'homeostasis', is a clear example of an 'open natural system.' Other examples are the cells of an organism, the brain as an organ, man as a social organism and the planet Earth as a gigantic organism.

 Within the framework of the wholistic worldview and the systems perspective, the planet Earth is a natural open system, profoundly affected by human activities.

 James Lovelock: The Gaia Hypothesis  James Lovelock, physician and geologist, describes the planet Earth as a 'living planet.' He proposes a systems approach to the scientific study of the Earth. Actively maintained and regulated by life on its surface, the living Earth is named 'Gaia' after the Greek name for the earth goddess. This idea originated in the search for life on Mars. Lovelock was invited by NASA to be an experimenter on the first lunar instrument mission. At the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, he first worked on the lunar probe and then on the design of sensitive instruments for analyzing the surfaces and atmospheres of planets. With a background in biology and medicine, he grew curious about the experiments to detect life on other planets. Together with philosopher.... employed by NASA to assess the experiments, Lovelock decided that the most certain way to detect life on a planet was to analyze its atmosphere.  He reasoned that the existence of living organisms would depend on the atmosphere for the conveyance of raw materials, products and by-products of their metabolism. The result would be an atmosphere of changing chemical composition, an atmosphere in disequilibrium - recognizably different from the atmosphere of a lifeless planet. In 1975 the two Viking spacecraft sent to Mars on a life-detecting mission confirmed the absence of life on that planet. This important finding led to new perspectives and models of Earth as a planet with life - as a 'living planet.'

The new model of the Earth views the planet as a self-organizing and self-regulating open natural system i.e. 'Gaia hypothesis'.

PLANET EARTH IS A NATURAL OPEN SYSTEM Gaia as a planetary being  Gaia is a planetary being described in terms of the co-evolution of living species and their environments. With one modifying assumption, the Gaia hypothesis is in accordance with Darwin's theory of evolution through natural selection. Whereas Darwin assumed the evolution of species to be independent of the evolution of the environment, Lovelock makes a case for the coupled co-evolution of species and their environments. Through the mechanism of natural selection, species and environments evolve together as open natural systems.

 The wholistic 'Gaia hypothesis' forms the basis of a unified science of the Earth. The systems science of the Earth combines geology and the earth sciences with physiology and the life sciences to form a  'geophysiology.' With a wholistic perpective of the planet Earth, the new science constitutes a theoretical basis for establishing a 'planetary medicine.' Instead of being in control of the planet and its resources, the human species through human activities brings about important changes and thus plays an important role in the functioning of the whole living planet.

According to Gaia theory "we are just another species, neither the owners nor the stewards of this planet. Our future depends much more upon a right relationship with Gaia than with the never-ending drama of human interest." (James Lovelock, The Ages of Gaia: A Biography of Our Living Earth. (London, New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1988), 14)

"Every theory generalizes certain commonalities underlying individual differentiations. The commonalities it abstracts are the recurrent features of phenomena - the nonvarying aspects of it: the invariances. The question is 'which of the recurrent aspects of phenomena are abstracted at the basic and essential invariances?' Classical science and natural philosophy abstracted substance and causal interactions between substantive particulars. Contemporary science tends increasingly to concentrate on organization: not what a thing is per se, nor how one thing produces an effect on one other thing, but rather how sets of events are structured and how they function in relation to their 'environment' - other sets of things, likewise structured in space and time. These are invariances of process related to systems. We may call them invariances of organization." (Laszlo, E. The Systems of the World: The Natural Philosophy of the New Developments in the Sciences. New York: George Brazillier (21) )

 The need for a wholistic perspective: the effects of 'acid rain' (reported since the 1960s.) The reactions involved in the formation of acid rain take place in the lowest 10 or12 kilometers of the atmosphere. Effects of acid rain result from precipitation of rain with particles made acidic by atmospheric gases. Through processes which have been taking place long before human beings were burning fossil fuels... such as volcanic activity and soil bacteria metabolism...sulfur dioxide and oxides of nitrogen are emitted into the atmosphere...they are converted into new combinations known as sulfuric and nitric acids by way of chemical reactions which utilize oxygen and water molecules and which are triggered by the energy of sunlight. The sulfuric and nitric acid molecules are emitted into the atmosphere as pollutants ...incorporated into the water droplets of clouds, forming acid clouds, and the result is precipitation of 'acid rain'.

The reactions can be described in detail as follows: A photon of sunlight strikes a molecule of ozone(O3) to produce a molecule of oxygen (O2) and a single reactive oxygen atom which then combines with a water molecule (H2O) to form two hydroxyl radicals 2(OH). O3 --- O2 + O O + H2O --- 2 (OH)- One of two hydroxy radicals is used in the following reaction which results in the production of sulfuric acid. When a hydroxyl radical combines with sulfur dioxide(SO2) the product is sulfuric acid (H2SO4) (OH)- + SO2 ---- H2SO4 The amount of nitric and sulfuric produced depends on the amount of nitrogen and sulfur dioxides in the air; the supply of hydroxylradicals is inexhaustible, even though it is very small...one part per trillion. This results from the fact that the hydroxyl radical is regenerated in the same reactions in which it is used.

 Combined with other biotic and abiotic stress factors, acid rain has caused a great deal of damage to coniferous forests. The most dramatic tree damage is found in Germany, where scientists have named the phenomenon 'waldsterben' meaning forest death. Data in the U.S. indicate that extensive forest death has occurred in some mountanous areas in New York, Vermont and New Hampshire. Though the techanism of damage is not known exactly, data indicate that acid rain may contribute as an additional stress factor to the breakdown of a tree's resistance to age, disease, insects, parasitic fungi, severe winters, shortage of light, water or essential nutrients and other stresses.

The increased formation of acid rain is an example of the detrimental consequences of man's technological activities on life and the environment. The damage caused by acid rain illustrates the far-reaching consequences of human interference in the biology and chemistry of the planet's biosphere. Human beings pollute the air through their technology. The production of  acid rain represents the manifestation of large scale interference with the chemical cycles through which living things interact with their environment. There is an urgent need to devise and implement a new technology which will eliminate emissions of pollutants from power plants and vehicles.

     The utilization of natural resources for energy and transport involves responsible interrelationships of many other aspects of the biotic and abiotic environments. Now there is an urgent need for all human being to develop a wholistic perspective in order to understnd the effects of their activities on their environment and the rest of the biosphere. The damage caused by acid rain illustrates the far-reaching consequences of human interference in the biology and chemistry of the planet's biosphere.

"Every theory generalizes certain commonalities underlying individual differentiations. The commonalities it abstracts are the recurrent features of phenomena - the nonvarying aspects of it: the invariances. The question is 'which of the recurrent aspects of phenomena are abstracted at the basic and essential invariances?' Classical science and natural philosophy abstracted substance and causal interactions between substantive particulars. Contemporary science tends increasingly to concentrate on organization: not what a thing is per se, nor how one thing produces an effect on one other thing, but rather how sets of events are structured and how they function in relation to their 'environment' - other sets of things, likewise structured in space and time. These are invariances of process related to systems. We may call them invariances of organization." (Laszlo, E. The Systems of the World: The Natural Philosophy of the New Developments in the Sciences. New York: George Brazillier 21)) 

Organization and interrelationships in the biological world... perspective for a study of biology. From the point of view of its organization and interrelationships, the study of the biological world can be understood and become meaningful and relevant as well as very interesting, no matter what your reason for starting a study of biology. There are many varied reasons why a study of biology is relevant to nearly everyone. You may wish to have a better understanding of the workings of that complicated machine, the human body; or of the intricate relationships between the human species and the environment which it begins to control; or of the recent trends in biological research which have a direct bearing on our everyday lives; or of the ethical questions connected with controversial forms of research; or of the history of the study of life; or even of one's place in nature and its philosophical implications. These are only a few of the many possible motivations which could lead one to begin a study of biology. Whatever the reason, the course should be an adventure.

some objectives - to appreciate the history of the philosophy of science in general, and the development of specific scientific theories; to see relationships among the different areas of physical science and betwen the physical and biological sciences; to gain an understanding of the roles of various aspects of the physical world on the natural world. Emphasize the imortance of the appreciation of scientific principles. Stress the connections between physical and natural phenomena meaning phenomena in the world of living things. For example, the physical properties of the chlorophyll molecule and its role of converting light energy into biochemical energy in the light reactions of photosynthesis. Also the physical chemistry of the water molecule and the role in transport of oxygen in the blood, hydrogen bonding between water molecules makes cohesion and upward movement of water against gravity to the leaves of trees possible. Oxford dictionary : natural world natural means " physically existing, not spiritual or intellectual or fictitious, concerned with physical things." Natural history is the "study of animal or vegetable life, especially as set forth for popular use." Theme for the course could be 'the relationship between the physical sciences and the world of living things' or 'the role of physical phenomena in the biological world.'

  SHIFT IN SCIENTIFIC PARADIGM HAS FAR REACHING IMPLICATIONS FOR EDUCATION

It is being discovered that not only is the reductionist scientific paradigm insufficient for the study of the physical world; it is insufficient for the study of human affairs as well. This shift in the dominant scientific paradigm and world view has profound... far reaching implications for education.  The shift from the reductionist worldview to the wholistic worldview in teaching methodology is noticeable in three characteristic trends: first, the trend away from fragmentation, competition and separateness and towards the emphasis on oneness and wholeness; second, the trend away from faith in external authority, such as religion, science and 'experts' and towards the inner authority of the conscience;  third, the trend away from the need to control and towards the need to trust the human spirit. The goals of education are being shaped by the new wholistic science which forms the basis for a wholistic education. The new scientific methodology of holistic science is based on the assumption that the observer participates in the process of observation. Reflecting the same basic assumption, a new educational methodology recognizes and validates the participation of the learner in the learning process. The new wholistic science includes more 'participatory methodology' based on the subjective experiences of the observer in experimental situations.

 Based on the assumption of oneness and wholeness, it validates the inner subjective experience as well as objective physical sense data.

IMPORTANCE OF SCIENTIFIC RECOGNITION OF THE INTRINSIC NATURE OF THE HUMAN PERSONALITY... i.e. 'human nature'. It is not possible to have a truly meaningful education for the 'humanization' of society without the scientific recognition of the intrinsic nature and value of what it is to be human. The worldview of wholistic science recognizes the intrinsic nature and value of the human inner life. It is therefore possible to have a truly meaningful wholistic education if it is based on the wholistic paradigm and the scientific recognition of the human inner life. A wholistic education is possible within the context of the worldview of a wholistic science. With the scientific recognition of the inner life, the wholistic worldview permits a global view of the human being as a 'totality of body, soul and spirit.' Scientific discoveries of the interrelations of body, soul and spirit are reflected in a new educational paradigm. The new pedagogical methodology recognizes that the child's learning experiences and learning difficulties are global in nature.

The global view of the child and the learning process "can provide a secure theoretical and practical foundation for a holistic education that directs itself to educate the whole person for the whole of life." (Gerald Karnow, "Educating the Whole Person for the Whole of Life," Holistic Education Review vol. 5 no. 1 Fall 1992: 64)

Dr. OVIDE DECROLY This notion of 'globalization' has been tested and verified by the highly influential pedagogue Dr. Ovide Decroly (1871-l932). A medical doctor, psychologist and professor at the University of Brussels, Dr. Decroly is best known as a pioneer of experimental pedagogy. He observed children at first hand in an evironment which was conducive to the full development of their personalities, their capacities and their human potential. He introduced an educational methodology with the purpose of educating children 'for life and through life.'

Bibliography

 Laszlo, Ervin. The Systems of the World: The Natural Philosophy of the New Developments in the Sciences. New York: George Brazilier,

1972 Lovelock, James. The Ages of Gaia: A Biography of Our LivingEarth. London, New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1988

Edelglass, Stephen. "Holistic Science: Detachment and Participation," Holistic Education Review vol. 5 no. 3 (Fall 1992): 32-35

Harman, Willis. "The Shifting Worldview: Toward a More Holistic Science," Holistic Education Review vol. 5 no. 3 (Spring 1992): 59-64

Karnow, Gerald. "Educating the Whole Person for the Whole of Life," Holistic Education Review vol. 5 no. 1 (Fall 1992): 15-25

 

Within the framework of the wholistic worldview and the systems perspective, the planet Earth is a natural open system, profoundly affected by human activities.

 

Human thinking is 'metaphorical' People make sense of information exchanges on the basis of the conceptual images and schemata they acquire from their culture. The root 'metaphors' of a culture influence the process of 'analogic' thinking (which is always involved in understanding new situations)... the same metaphors can provide a schema that may prevent certain forms of information from being recognized or properly understood.

 The root metaphors of Western culture are 'man' centered universe, dualistic reality, mechanical universe, technology as 'neutral', autonomy of the individual etc.

reference: Bowers C.A., 'Implications of the Ecological Crisis for the Reform of Teacher Education' in Miller et al. The Renewal of Meaning in Education: Responses to the Cultural and Ecological Crisis of our Times

Individual in the context of culture: Essential ideas of Bateson: Rather than viewing the individual as an autonomous and reflective being, we should focus on the person as an interactive member of a larger ecology; look at the entire system. The map is not the territory. ...A person or society may think that what they are aware of (actually what their culturally acquired schemata allows them to be aware of ) is an accurate representation of the world, and the culturally derived schemata of understanding may distort fundamental relationships - like the belief that humans can survive and progress through even greater reliance on technological solutions. (Bowers C.A., Implications of the Ecological Crisis for the reform of teacher education in Miller et al. The Renewal of Meaning in Education: Responses to the Cultural and Ecological Crisis of our Times 45) Teachers need to understand the culture-language thought connection

The most elementrary form of idea or bit of information is a 'difference that makes a difference'. The contacts betwen the different entities (humans, plants soil, atmosphere etc) that characterize the multiple layers of life that constitute an ecology involve differences in patterns. ...the wellbeing of individuals is interdependent over the long term with the viability of the system ecology, of which they are a part. ...the mental processes that have their roots in cultural traditions may lead to dumping toxic wastes into the environment, leading to changes in the patterns of water, plant and animal life that will eventually impact human behavior. The totality of information exchanges that occur within a living ecology, where humans are ultimately interdependent with the rest of the biota, become for Bateson the basic unit of survival (Bateson, 1972. Steps to an Ecology of Mind 483) ..

 WHOLISTIC CONFIGURATION WORLDVIEW emphasizes wholes and patterns SYSTEMS APPROACH AND COMPLEXITY OF LEARNING  The attention of educators is being drawn away from the paradigm of the behavioral sciences and towards the new paradigm of 'systems theory'. With a shift in paradigm to a systems approach, it becomes possible to view the learning process in all its complexity. A reconceptualization of the teaching and learning process is being formed on the basis of the knowledge of brain functioning. Attention of educators is being shifted towards the biological basis of the human potential for learning and thinking. Improvements in educational theory result in effective methodologies such as thematic teaching, whole-language approaches to literacy, and the integration of the curriculum.  

Many scientists make the mistake of confusing the definition of modern science with the assumptions upon which it is based. They believe that any knowledge system which does not account for these assumptions must not be in the realm of 'science.' According to the worldview of reductionist science, scientific reality is perceived objectively without the participation of the observer. There is no recognition for the scientific reality of the human inner life. Scientific methodology is based on the assumption that the process of observation involves the detachment of the observer. Of great significance in the Western tradition, this quality of detachment from the objective world is the origin of the concept of individuality and individual freedom. The price has been a sense of alienation from the outer world - a loss of the sense of 'oneness' with the universe, a loss of the wholistic perspective. In the extreme form of detachment, the individual treats other human beings as objects. Educational methodology which is formulated within the context of this worldview does not recognize the scientific reality of the human inner life. Pedagogocal principles have been formulated with a view to the learner's detachment in the learning process. In the past, the worldview of reductionist science has been shaping the goals of education. The scientific process of logical empiricism has shaped the perception of the learning process in education. With a bias toward completely 'objective' knowledge, scientific methodology has directly influenced the educational methodology. The aims of education have been formulated in terms of the acquisition and measurement of 'objective' knowledge. The assumption is made that cognitive knowledge can only be measured with 'objective' testing methods. The 'objectives' of classwork and coursework have been described in terms of test-taking skills and test performance. The value of knowledge has been measured in terms of its objectives and its usefulness. In the context of this scientific paradigm and worldview, the objective scientific reality of 'being human' is defined in terms of objective scientific reality. It is not defined in terms of the intrinsic nature and value of what it is to be human. Cognitive knowledge is not considered in terms of its intrinsic value to the development of the human potential. Nor is it considered in terms of the enrichment of the human life or the inner life. Educational policy formulated in the context of the modern scientific worldview disregards knowledge systems which are not considered to be in the realm of 'science.' There are indications that the basic assumptions of the reductionist worldview are being reexamined and a fundamental change is taking place. In the English speaking part of the industrialized world and in Northern Europe there is a shift in the scientific paradigm from reductionist science to wholistic science. This change consists of new trends away from linear perspectives and towards whole-system perspectives; away from cause-effect relationships and towards interrelationships; away from reductionism and towards wholism. At the turn of the century, the mechanistic view of the physical world was challenged by Einstein's theory of relativity and quantum theory. Since then, new laws of integrated wholes have been postulatedthe laws of natural systems of organized complexity such as the universe, the galaxy, the solar system, the terrestrial biosphere, man's societies, man's environment, and man himself. A scientific study of reality which is wholistic emphasizes the 'whole-system'  i.e. 'systems theory'. This holistic perspective or 'systems approach' requires an understanding of the interrelationships between the parts of the whole system. In a wide variety of systems - biological, social, cosmological and others - the natural tendency for the evolution of ever larger and more complex wholes cannot be fully comprehended by analysing the constituent parts. Whether one considers a cell, a human being, a nation, or a world of nations, the whole is somehow greater than the sum of its parts. Within the framework of the wholistic paradigm, the observer focuses on the order, harmony and synchrony inherent in complex systems.