Living in Cybernetics: Ecological literacy, design thinking and the pattern that connects
“What is the pattern that connects the crab to the lobster and the primrose to the orchid, and all of them to me, and me to you?” Gregory Bateson
5. Education and conversation: Lewin, Martin, Pask, Scott
7. Art, design, music, literature; Brun, Clarke, Galuszka, Krippendorff, Pangaro, Parenti
In this paper I reflect on how systems thinking, from a perspective of ecological literacy, can inform design thinking and may lead to a practice of lived Cybernetics.
Ecological literacy, an educational perspective, incorporates ideas around sustainability, networks, nested systems, circularity and flows, among others. Cybernetics tries to understand complexity, and the relationship between systems and observers, with implications for the social sphere. Design thinking aims at understanding problems from a perspective of empathy, creativity, intuition and methodical analysis and reflection.
What is the pattern that connects these three practices?
All three might be seen as practices of acting and understanding, as well as theoretical perspectives.
(Additionally design can learn from principles that evolved in living systems over time, such as biomimetics or biomimicry.)
The knowledge of living systems, design inspired by nature and the transition to a sustainable society are shared goals.
In my view design thinking and cybernetic thinking may have a crucial role in contributing to a (design) education, such a ‘transition design’ (‘Transition towns’), which also strongly relates to Donald Schön’s ‘reflection in action’ and John Dewey’s experiential learning cycle.
Another important role in all three above mentioned practices, is played by ‘embodiment’, the idea that we think with our whole bodies as well as with our tools.
What may be gained through such a discussion?
Understanding how the three perspectives may mutually complement one another on multiple levels may lead to a more comprehensive and meaningful framework for education and also for lifelong learning.
Linda Booth Sweeney
Klaus Krippendorff, The semantic turn
John Dewey, How we think
Richard Sennett, Together
Neil Postman, Teaching as a subversive activity
Donald Schon, The reflective practitioner
Nigel Cross, Design Thinking
Weinberger, David, 2013, Knowledge in its natural state
- 5) Education and conversation
- 7) Art; design; music; literature