• Katherine

    Member
    26 June 2020 at 9:45 am

    The compass allows the user to dive into the idea of systems thinking and explore how interconnected everything is. It allows you to think big picture and explore the larger impacts of even small decisions. I found when doing the practice example myself, the use of arrows push me to think of more consequences/outcomes and pushed my thinking a lot more. If something I wrote didn’t have an arrow connecting it with something else I sat and kept thinking on it longer.knowing that it did have some connection with another part of the compass.

    • Laurence

      Member
      27 June 2020 at 4:32 am

      I really like your point about larger impacts. In truth all our decisions have larger impacts and, as people are exposed to sustainability and systems thinking more, they naturally expand their thinking so that, even if they don’t know the exact impact, they recognize that there is one and look to see what that might be. Identifying “unintended consequences” is an important piece to this as often the world’s problems are just impact that was not recognized or deemed to have been small enough to move forward with anyway. In science they have the precautionary principle which is intended to be used even at the intergovernmental level. That is the refelctoin of these unintended consequences but is often overlooked. I remember, for example, when the second 737MAX went down due to that glitch which, at the time, was unidentified. I remember how quickly European countries grounded the planes and yet the US continued to fly for another week or so citing that there was insufficient data at the time to ground the planes. I remember thinking about the precautionary principle at the time and wondering what would have happened if another plane had gone down in that week. Thankfully it didn’t happen but often there is that decision to prioritize things and decisions to ground or not really do tell a story about the priorities of those making the decisions. I guess the response to COVID-19 is a similar such conversation. Sorry for the rambling. 🙂

  • Kevin

    Member
    26 June 2020 at 11:20 am

    In order to be sustainable, you need to be able to look at things with different lenses. If you only look at a problem or issue from an economic point of view (perhaps like many politicians might be prone to do) then you can not be sustainable as you are missing out on aspects that will keep any kind of initiative going. It is this looking at solutions like a system that will help make sure no particular aspect is being ignored.

    • Laurence

      Member
      27 June 2020 at 4:33 am

      That’s right. And since you’re talking about solutions it’s important to recognize that at the design phase (for example) of a potential solution the compass makes a great tool as well. We’ve used it in a business class to have kids analyze innovative new products from a social entrepreneurship perspective. The analysis was able to drive some of their decisions and, in some cases, determine a change of the product altogether.

  • Ian

    Member
    26 June 2020 at 1:02 pm

    My post is going to be similar to both above. The compass provides a bigger picture and pushes our thinking into different areas, helping us to go broader and deeper when exploring a topic. To develop sustainable habits as individuals and as local/global societies, we need to purposefully explore how a decision can impact nature, the economy, society, and individual’s wellbeing. The compass takes a way of thinking that could be perceived as complicated, and simplifies the system in our bid for sustainable communities.

    • Laurence

      Member
      27 June 2020 at 4:36 am

      I like your wording, “simplies”. The process is simple, as is the tool, but the thinking that it generates has the potential to really “wow” participants. This is particularly true of those who might never have actually taken the time to think from any perspective other than their own before. This is often why I suggest that the compass be used often and not only as a one-off activity in a class. The recurring use actually allows students to internalize the process (simple) so that they can make their down decisions internally over time.

  • Jeremiah

    Member
    26 June 2020 at 11:14 pm

    The Sustainability Compass tool provides us with a platform to rethink habits and practices through a sustainability lens, focusing on 4 main areas. Using the compass, we also get to see the relationships and interconnectedness between these areas and sub-topics found within these areas. As we see the interconnectedness, we begin to examine and reflect on how the habits and practices can be modified or developed.

    • Laurence

      Member
      27 June 2020 at 4:40 am

      Jeremiah,

      You are exactly correct in your note about the interconnections being made visible. I should add that, in my experience, the compass is best used after some basic knowledge has been collected already. For example, in a service learning unit I recommend the use of the compass as an activity to bring all the investigation data together and analyze it before determining a plan. It’s a bridge activity between Investigation (step 1) and planning (step 2). If there is insufficient knowledge (as, for example, a start of a unit) it could also work, but it’s impact is hampered, potentially, by a lack of knowledge, data or opinions that might not be verified (similar to the “need” of a service learning project being unverified).

  • Rebecca

    Member
    27 June 2020 at 1:36 am

    I can’t say it enough: that the simple NSEW Compass on a large piece of paper in the middle of a room with ANY topic/question in the center box is an amazingly powerful tool for any age and in any language.

    Our school systems are set up, unfortunately, with the god-awful timetable. Our students are put into a superficial environment where life revolves around hourly bells, stop-and-go mentality, and just plain ‘ole silo applications of content. (Not all schools, of course).

    Caveat: I notice my writing is starting to come across as angry or critical. My mindset is truly not. I guess you could say I’m tired of having to convince people that there’s a better way to do school…but I surely wake up motivated, happy, and willing. Forgive my ramblings: it’s mostly for me to formulate where I’m at and how to go about my next steps in my new school.

    There is a new school here in Thailand just opening up this August called VERSO. They do not have grade levels, and their schedule includes 2.5 hours a day of “Explore Time”; meant to be the time students work on issues of their choice. They also have a weekly block of “Beyond the Walls; meant to be service learning. So, I thought. Their consultant is IDEO out of California, as well is Richard Hames. I was pitching my philosophy during a week of grueling interviews and felt it was some of my best articulation of a better way to do learning.

    I didn’t get the job. Why? Despite VERSO advertising all that they do about “we do things differently”, they weren’t ready for my ideas, and told me so. They didn’t believe in using the SDGs. They didn’t believe that assessment could be individualized on student growth on their projects. They wanted to see more PBL tied directly to the NGSS standards…they said, “Parents need assurance we’re getting their kids ready to get into universities.” They didn’t like my idea of a monthly VERSO Community Circle, where members of the community came in and served as mentors for students with their projects (“members” included everything from the broom seller, the motorbike mechanic, and the CEOs). Yet all my pitches were directly based off of the design challenge they sent me. So here we have yet another educational institution doing the same ‘ole stuff.

    As much as I wish I could teach like that, the more I learn about sustainability, systems thinking, service learning, SDGs, design thinking, I just can’t go back into that box. I need to wear the COMPASS tool on my sleeve and insist on the richness of its use.

    • Laurence

      Member
      27 June 2020 at 4:47 am

      Becky,

      The world needs visionaries and people who will push the envelope as much as they need mainstream. There is room for everyone at the table. It’s too bad about VERSO because I have looked at their website and been very intrigued with their work. Having said that I think (not that I’m the expert in any way) what you’re seeing here is a person (you) who is the beginning of the change you want to see in the world (sound familiar?). For change to happen you typically need have a few things in place. You need to focus on celebration and invitation and celebrate the living daylights of the work you do (with the compass and/or otherwise) and invite others to the table. I’m of the opinion that though you won’t win everyone over life is too short wasting your energy on those who will not support you (yet?). Instead, focus your energies on those who will. Invite people to a chat? Create an ad-hoc committee? Run a workshop? Showcase your process with your team? My personal style is that ‘water’ approach is the best. Rocks and things will get in the way but unstead of trying to climb them find another way around. Of course there are limits to what I’m saying, and it’s important that you recognize and are able to work within those limits, but there is typically more openness that you think, though not as much as you’d like. That “too much” and “not enough” is what sustainability is all about. You’re living it!

      • Rebecca

        Member
        28 June 2020 at 10:17 am

        Laurence,

        I needed to hear your words more than you know. Thanks a zillion for taking the time to respond so personally.

        • Laurence

          Member
          29 June 2020 at 5:38 am

          Thanks for your kind words, Becky. Learning is and should be personal. And we’re all in this together. Though we each walk our own path the fact that paths cross offers each of us the opportunity to touch the lives of others. After all, isn’t that what life and learning should be all about? Thank you for bringing your passion and your insights to this group and for the care that you carry with you and share with the world. 🙂

  • Deleted User

    Deleted User
    27 June 2020 at 5:30 am

    The Sustainability Compass encourages viewing issues from many perspectives. In Australia, our national curriculum guides us to look at concepts with an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures and Asia and Australian’s Engagement with Asia perspective. It would be interesting to continue to look at those perspectives through the Nature/Economy/Society/Well Being perspective also.

    As students become more familiar and confident with the process of the Sustainability Compass, deeper thinking strategies could be applied to other tasks too. It would be great to see deeper thinking and critical thinking as a common practise in learning.