SYSTEMIC THINKING, STUDENTS’ SOCIALLY-ORIENTED INNOVATIVE ACTIVITY AND QUALITY OF LIFE OF ECONOMIC AGENTS
The Financial University under the Goverment of the Russian Federation (RUSSIAN FEDERATION)
The development of socio-economic systems is a result of economic agents’ actions. Economic agents’ behaviour largely depends on their worldview, personal qualities and professional knowledge. National education systems, beginning with the preschool, have a most significant impact on the formation and development of personalities, and, consequently, on their behaviour. In the life of the contemporary society, persistent ‘eternal’ problems remain (and are expanding with new ones), despite the development of technical and technological progress and a number of measures taken to solve them. This proves the fact that their causes have not been eliminated yet. The research hypothesis presumes that such a state of affairs is caused, in particular, by an insufficient level of economic agents’ systemic thinking, which in turn depends largely on the organization of educational processes within national education systems.
Consciousness, thinking and behaviour of individuals, as well as the problems of educational activity, have been studied by researchers from different professional fields (neurophysiologists, psychologists, economists, educators, system specialists) in numerous angles. Generalization and further development of the results they obtained with regard to the interrelationships between the development of individuals and that of socio-economic systems made it possible to identify certain conditions for the formation of adequate value judgments about the current situation and reasonable behaviour, as well as regularities in the behaviour of socioeconomic systems and the personality. As applied to the education system, this made it possible to form a holistic picture of the factors influencing the formation of creative and innovative students.
Components of systemic thinking, creating the foundation of socially-oriented innovative behaviour, can be represented by several enlarged groups, including 1) understanding of the revealed emergent properties of systems and their genesis; 2) the conscious alignment of contour causal relationships in space and time; 3) identification of significant signs of the current and desired situation and the construction of adequate models (including so-called soft ones); 4) decision-making processes basing on holistic understanding of the current situation and future options in space-time coordinates with the ‘supersystem-system-subsystem’ and ‘past-present-future’ benchmarks; 5) identification of erroneous representations and their corresponding adjustments.
The insufficiency of the widely spread level of systemic thinking has general essential manifestations for seemingly completely different life situations. At the systems level, it manifests itself as a phenomenon of ‘shifting goals and functions’ (SGaF). One of the causes of this phenomenon is associated with individuals’ inadequate mental models, including mental traps. Mental models play a dual role in individuals’ behaviour. At the stage of assessing the situation, they act as a sort of filter, through which all information passes, at the stage of justifying the choice – a kind of searchlight, highlighting possible alternatives, limitations and criteria for comparing alternatives. These often generate distorted pictures of the world and lead to wrong decision making. Mental models are expressed ultimately in individuals’ systems of values and preferences underlying their individual behaviour.
In education systems the SGaF phenomenon is often manifested in students’ behaviour, with their cognitive and other kinds of activity primarily following external stimuli (e.g. the system of monitoring and evaluation), rather than their internal motivation to ‘seek out’ knowledge in order to form a multifaceted and integral picture of the world).
Systemic thinking is not the point of destination, but an integral path of development. Therefore, the main provisions and conclusions of the modern theory of socio-economic systems should be disseminated at all levels of education, within all types of education and for all educational areas (of course, taking into account their specificity). Systemic thinking reveals the creative abilities of man, opens new horizons in creativity (without which innovative activity is impossible), and makes innovation activity socially oriented.