Leverage Points: Places to Intervene in a System, by Donella Meadows


PLACES TO INTERVENE IN A SYSTEM (in increasing order of effectiveness)

12. Constants, parameters, numbers (such as subsidies, taxes, standards): even though they rarely change behavior

11. The sizes of buffers and other stabilizing stocks, relative to their flows: they are usually physical entities, not easy to change

10. The structure of material stocks and flows (such as transport networks, population age structures): they only way to fix a system is to rebuild it, but physical rebuilding is the slowest and most expensive kind of change

9. The lengths of delays, relative to the rate of system change: a system just can’t respond to short-term changes when it has long-term delays,a  delay in feedback is critical relative to rates of change in the stocks that the feedback loop is trying to control. it;s easier to slow down the change rate

8. The strength of negative feedback loops, relative to the impacts they are trying to correct against: one of the biggest mistakes is that we drastically narrow the range of conditions over which the system can survive, the strength of a negative loop is important relative to the impact it is designed to correct (self-correcting) 

7. The gain around driving positive feedback loops: a system with an unchecked positive loop ultimately will destroy itself (self-reinforcing). reducing the gain around a positive loop -slowing the growth- is usually a more powerful leverage point

6. The structure of information flows (who does and does not have access to information): missing feedback is one of the most common causes of system malfunction. adding or restoring information can be a powerful intervention, usually much easier and cheaper than rebuilding physical infrastructure

5. The rules of the system (such as incentives, punishments, constraints): as we try to imagine restructured rules like that and what our behavior would be under them, we come to understand the power of rules. power over the rules is real power

4. The power to add, change, evolve, or self-organize system structureSelf-organization means changing any aspect of a system lower on this list — adding completely new physical structures, such as brains or wings or computers — adding new negative or positive loops, or new rules. the ability to self-organize is the strongest form of system resilience. 

3. The goals of the system the goal of a system is a leverage point superior to the self-organizing ability of a system. even people within systems don’t often recognize what whole-system goal they are serving

2. The mindset or paradigm out of which the system — its goals, structure, rules, delays, parameters — arisesthe shared idea in the minds of society, the great big unstated assumptions — unstated because unnecessary to state; everyone already knows them — constitute that society’s paradigm, or deepest set of beliefs about how the world works (Kuhn: keep pointing at the anomalies and failures in the old paradigm, you keep coming yourself, and loudly and with assurance from the new one, you insert people with the new paradigm in places of public visibility and power. You don’t waste time with reactionaries; rather you work with active change agents and with the vast middle ground of people who are open-minded.)

1. The power to transcend paradigms: that is to keep oneself unattached in the arena of paradigms, to stay flexible, to realize that NO paradigm is “true,” that every one, including the one that sweetly shapes your own worldview, is a tremendously limited understanding of an immense and amazing universe that is far beyond human comprehension

Full article available here/ Image available here

Lumen Learning on personalized learning


The original typical high-level approach to personalization included:

  • building up an internal model of what a student knows and can do,
  • algorithmically interrogating that model, and
  • providing the learner with a unique set of learning experiences based on the system’s analysis of the student model

“but if a personalized approach is for the people”, says Wiley, “in the above mentioned model there is no active role for the learner in this “personalized” experience”.

“LL approach”, he continues, “still involves building up a model of what the student knows, but rather than presenting that model to a system to make decisions on the learner’s behalf, we present a view of the model directly to students and ask them to reflect on where they are and make decisions for themselves using that information. As part of our assessment strategy, which includes a good mix of human-graded and machine-graded assessments, students are asked to rate their level of confidence in each of their answers on machine-graded formative and summative assessments.”

Excerpts from David Wiley’s article entitled “Putting the ‘Person’ Back in Personalized Learning”, full article available here

Image available here



1:200 model of BLOX integration in the neighborhood. this was in the gift shop area, a great one by the way


caption from the exhibition on housing, collage shows the evolution of social housing and public space policies in Europe and Denmark. the exhibition contained data on family types, ownership status and revolved around housing types, building materials, energy saving solutions for housing blocks, AR and smart house applications.


Olafur Eliasson’s installation of light projections on walls


BLOX’s children playground (completely black of course)


Visitors holding the special red card were required to answer one question per room and at the end of the exhibition they received a note describing their ideal home based on their answers.


Seymour Papert’s Constructionism


the N word as opposed to the V word–shares constructivism’s connotation of learning as “building knowledge structures” irrespective of the circumstances of the learning. It then adds the idea that this happens especially felicitously in a context where the learner is consciously engaged in constructing a public entity, whether it’s a sand castle on the beach or a theory of the universe (Papert, 1991)

Seymour, says Idit Harel in his obituary, coined the term to advance a new theory of learning, claiming that children learn best when they:

  1. use tech-empowered learning tools and computational environments,
  2. take active roles of designers and builders; and
  3. do it in a social setting, with helpful mentors and coaches, or over networks.

Influencers:  John Dewey, Maria Montessori, and Paulo Freire, Jean Piaget with whom he worked in 1958 to 1963 in Switzerland.

He was also responsible for the academic work for  Logo programming language. He created the Logo Turtle, which was a physical turtle, and later became a virtual turtle which could be manipulated on screen by using the simple Logo programming language. MIT’s Epistemology and Learning Group, which Papert founded, has created many advanced technologies for learners including: robotics, system dynamics, multi-agent modeling, and digital fabrication. In 1985, he began a long and productive collaboration with the LEGO company, one of the first and largest corporate sponsors of the Media Lab. In the late 1990s, Papert moved to Maine and continued his work with young people there, establishing the Learning Barn and the Seymour Papert Institute in 1999


  1. Papert, S., Harel, I., 1991. Situating Constructionism, Ablex Publishing Corporation, 1st chapter retrieved here: http://edutechwiki.unige.ch/en/Constructionism (last accessed 09.08.2018)
  2. Harel, I., 2016.  A Glimpse Into the Playful World of Seymour Papert. (obituary), IN EdSurge, 3rd August 2016, full text available here
  3. http://edutechwiki.unige.ch/en/Constructionism
  4. http://idtoolbox.eseryel.com/seymour-paperts–constructionism.html
  5. http://news.mit.edu/2016/seymour-papert-pioneer-of-constructionist-learning-dies-0801

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Dewey’s notion of experience


John Dewey

One important contributor to the development of pragmatism was John Dewey (1859–1952), whose philosophical interests spanned many areas, including psychology, education, ethics, logic and politics (…) Dewey’s pragmatism examines how the use of different ideas and hypotheses, concepts and theories affects the result of inquiry (…) One common misunderstanding is when educationalists associate pragmatism with ‘learning by doing’ or as mere ‘trial and error’ as this view separates action from thinking in turn preventing learning in an informed way (…) Dewey worked all his life on refining his notion of experience and defined it first as interactional and later as a transactional concept (…) Experience is the concept Dewey used to denote the relation between subject and worlds as well as between action and thinking, between human existence and becoming knowledgeable about selves and the worlds of which they are a part (…) This is why Dewey prefers the term ‘organic circle’ rather than ‘reflex arc’ as a metaphor for the relation between being and knowing (…) experience is a series of connected organic circles, it is transaction, and it is the continuous relation between subject and worlds. Experience is an understanding of the subject as being in the world, not outside and looking into the world, as a spectator theory of knowledge would imply

Five differences between a commonplace interpretation of experience and his own views:

  • experience is usually used as an epistemological concept (purpose is production) while for Dewey is an ontological one and it is based on the transactional relation between subject and worlds. (remember difference of enjoying a painting because of its aesthetic value or studying it as an art reviewer) There are no experiences without some form of knowing but it does not solely depend on conscious thinking.
  • experience is traditionally understood as an inner mental and subjective relation and thus trapped in in the privacy of subjects’ action and thinking. There is no experience without a subject experiencing it but it does not mean that experiencing is solely subjective and private.
  • Third, experience is traditionally viewed in the past tense, the given rather
    than the experimental and future oriented. Dewey’s concept of experience,
    on the contrary, is characterized by reaching forward towards the unknown.
  • experience is traditionally viewed as isolated and specific rather than as continuous and connected. For Dewey, however, experience is a series of connected situations (organic circles) and even if all situations are connected to other situations, every situation has its own unique character.
  • Finally, experience has traditionally been viewed as beyond logical reasoning.
    Dewey argued, however, that there is no conscious experience without this
    kind of reasoning. Anticipatory thinking and reflection is always present in
    conscious experience by way of theories and concepts, ideas and hypotheses

By on the one hand stressing that experience is not primarily an epistemological matter, and on the other hand claiming that the systematic process of knowledge is one form of experience, Dewey wanted to show how inquiry is the only method for having an experience. Inquiry is triggered by difficult situations, and inquiry is the means through which it is possible to transform these situations through the mediation of thinking and action.Further, experience and inquiry are not limited to what is mental and private. (Elkjaer, 2009)

Traditional concept of experience v Dewey’s concept of experience
Experience as knowledge/Knowledge as a subset of experience
Experience as subjective/ Experience as both subjective and objective
Experience as oriented to the past/ Experience as future oriented (consequence)
Experience as isolated experiences/Experience as united experiences
Experience as action/ Experience as encompassing theories and concepts and as such a foundation for knowledge


Elkjaer, B., 2009. Pragmatism: A learning theory for the future. In Contemporary Theories of Learning Learning theorists … in their own words, Knud Illeris (ed.), London & New York: Routledge, pp. 74-89

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