Friday, April 29, 2016

Educating Voters: The Systems Thinking WayEducating Voters: The Systems Thinking Way

Educating Voters: The Systems Thinking WayEducating Voters: The Systems Thinking Way

Discussions around the upcoming elections, both in the Philippines and in the United States, show the kind of electorate that builds our democracies where every opinion is heard – ignorant or not. 
It can be argued that the quality of a democracy is heavily dependent on how educated and responsible the people are in making choices individually and collectively. Civil rights and freedoms such as the freedom of expression are guaranteed in a democracy, but the trap is when people start to believe that an ignorant opinion is equal to that of an informed, responsible choice. 

In the Philippines, there is a prevalence of election memes flooding social media right now with information or misinformation due to the relative ease by which these things can be posted and shared online. Nowadays, people have become more opinionated about anything under the sun, but not necessarily well-informed individuals. People have become taste-makers and policy movers with every like and share on Facebook or with every tweet that they do on Twitter.  

The things that people post online are not just indicative of people’s personal mental models, but are also manifestations of the current social structures that define public discourse.   

Imagine all the things that our children are exposed to in this information age. Some people who are already considered adults are still easily swayed by propaganda and faulty logic, what more our children who may not have been trained to be critical of the info that they see and share online. The better scenario would be to have children start being critical early on in school.

This situation highlights the pressing need to educate not just voters, but also young ones, to be more critical in discerning what is really true and valid from what is merely a lie or propaganda as they go through all the posts and shares in social media. One is empowered more if we approach the election season, and any other social or personal issue for that matter, more critical and practicing the Habits of a Systems Thinker. 

Luckily, there is Benedictine International School in Quezon City, Philippines that trains its students to be more critical of the information that they receive which in turn, greatly affect their decision-making. Students are trained early on to look at and discuss things critically, using the Habits of a Systems Thinker. 
The following are some of the Habits of a Systems Thinker, essentially leadership qualities, that a voter must look for in an effective candidate beyond the memes and shared posts on social media:

1. Sees the big picture

Does your candidate maintain a balance between the big picture and important details? Does your candidate have a vision to begin with, or merely a reaction to the now and gets lost in the details? Once elected into public office, especially in a national post, a leader cannot afford to be myopic and detach the self or the community from the rest of the dynamics of a bigger system, which is the rest of humanity.

2. Recognizes that a system’s structure generates its behavior

Does your candidate focus on internal causes rather than dwell on external blame when in addressing challenges and social issues? Does he/she have a clear understanding of how parts affect each other and create the behavior that emerges? Does your candidate strengthen or weaken democratic institutions? It is important to note that changes, in order for them to be more sustainable, must be achieved on the level of mental models. Goo working structures must be put in place to sustain government efforts, instead of merely reacting to issues and putting blame on individuals.  
3. Identifies circular nature complex cause-effect relationships

Is your candidate aware of and open to feedback, either reinforcing or balancing? Does he consider different parts and how they affect one another?
As such, the leader must recognize that cause-effect relationships within dynamic systems are circular rather than linear. He/she can identify where circular causality or feedback emerge in making complex decisions.
4. Changes perspective to increase understanding

Is your candidate tolerant of differing views? Is your candidate open to feedback? Does he/she approach the right people to help him/her gain new and wider perspectives on an issue? Does he/she puts value on collaborative work of different sectors rather than exerting the tired-way of top-down, linear approach to governing? Inclusive growth can only be realized if we start to empower people to participate in nation building. Hence, a leader looks at issues from differing angles and points of view, acknowledging that he has no monopoly over good ideas.  

5. Considers issue fully and resists urge to come to a quick conclusion

Does your candidate act decisively, yet not impulsively? Is he/she able to manage the tension that exists when issues are not resolved immediately? Is your candidate inspiring enough to lead others to be patient while living in unresolved problems? A leader is not too quick to judge and will take time to understand the system’s structure and its behavior before recommending and implementing a course of action. He/She will never oversimplify things for soundbites and popularity. He does not promote patronage politics and understands that some quick fixes do not work.

6. Considers short-term, long-term, and unintended consequences

Does your candidate consider all the possible consequences? Does your candidate think of long-term solutions? Is he/she willing to own up and be responsible for unintended consequences when they emerge? A leader is willing to accept short term pain for long-term gain. A leader understands that there are trade-offs that must be considered, but these things should never be at the expense of the people, the majority, and most especially the most vulnerable in society.

7. Recognizes the impact of time delays

Is your candidate realistic and truthful in assessing how quick the solutions may come? Are there bases for the claims and promises of your candidate?  Does your leader respond with urgency, but not hastily? A leader understands the importance of time delays especially when an action is taken within a complex, dynamic system. He/she will also account for the impact these delays may have within the system.  

These are just some of the things that we must demand from those who wish to have the honor and privilege to govern us. When we vote for certain individuals and elect them to office, we are essentially giving them the power to direct the course of the life of our communities towards either the good or the bad. Being critical of our candidates is one the best types of participation we can do in our democracy.
As parents and adults, we have the responsibility to choose the leaders who will help us and steer our communities in defining the future for our children. It would have been better if schools expose our children early on to a more critical way of looking at things, the Systems Thinking way. Practicing the habits of a Systems Thinker like those listed above, is a good way to become productive contributors in a working democracy that truly considers the people in its choices. 

We have the power to choose between allowing our children to become pawns in a political game or to become opinion-makers that help direct public discourse towards a more sensible and responsible one. Be more involved in your child’s future by sending them to schools which can help them become critical consumers and producers of information. To know more about Systems Thinking in schools, you may reach Benedictine international School at 951.7154 / 951.7454 / 951.8960. The school is located in Capitol Hills Drive, Old Balara, Quezon City.

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Debate

In light of the latest Debate I remember the Point of a wise man I spoke to regarding Politics – the need for a leader that can provide a quantum leap of progress for the country. 

Quantum Leap – per the dictionary, is defined as a sudden LARGE change, development, or improvement. 

I wanted to share this opinion because I am currently an undecided voter (for President) and I hoped that (apart from my own efforts in researching) the last public presidential debate would provide me an inclination to make a solid decision.

However, the “positions” on “issues” were almgost the same for everyone. The general equation was: ISSUE = POPULAR ANSWER THAT WOULD DRIVE VOTES. 
• Problem on Traffic = Infra
• Problem with China = Diplomacy 
• You get the idea

Assuming for the sake of argument that they all fulfill their promises, the “who” becomes negligible. 

Nobody talked about:
• Entrepreneurship – as a means to leapfrog growth via relevant agencies like (1) DOST (2) DepEd (3) DTI (4) Finance (5) How to bridge capital, (6) how to enhance ideas (7) etc. 
• Creative Infra Solutions – It’s election period. Every candidate will promise every road, railway, infra possible (even the fastest internet on earth). If you wanted to stand out, one should’ve studied a differentiated solution to infrastructure both interim, and the end-goal – further than 2022. 
• Institutionalizing Anti-Corruption Measures – that while it starts from the top (the President), it should also be institutionalized with laws so that it is sustainable, 
• Metrics in Measuring Success – disruptive POVs on measuring success like Bhutan on their Gross Domestic Happiness, or Bill Clinton’s change of paradigm by measuring how many people we’re transitioning into Millionaires  

I understand that the problems of the country is quite basic & I understand that to a certain degree, true change takes time  – BUT if the solutions are likewise basic,(commonsensical even), our growth-timetable would also be at normal speed. If you compare that with our neighbors in #ASEAN’s rate of progress, we will never be a step-ahead.

Nobody had a clear vision.
Every candidate was reactive to the questions. 
Nobody had a clear narrative in which they can always pivot their answers to.  
No had clear answers on how to combat corruption and no one had a plan on how they will bring in plan for Good Governance.

The debate attempted to provide an opportunity for the candidates to lay down the roadmap of their respective narratives but everyone failed. To have a peaceful, and progressive Philippines is NOT a vision – that’s truism. Nobody wants to live in war, and in a country without progress. Do we want the PH to be the leader of Asia somewhere down our roadmap? As a vision, do we want every citizen to have the ability to pursue happiness via hardwork – just like the (supposed) American Dream? Nobody had a clear vision that can inspire me. 

As May 9 comes close, it pains me that I need to lower my standards due to the reality at hand and choose the lesser evil. But I encourage my friends, and whoever gets to read this, that we do not lessen our resolve to help elevate the pertinent issues, and HOW they SHOULD be addressed by our leaders. 

The debate on social media is stronger. Friendships are tested. People are fighting. Some are subliminally treating it as a contest of conversion and engagement. I hope we think more about OUR future, and not these candidates. Let’s not play victim to the breadcrumbs they’ve left us to quarrel about. 

This is it. We need to make lemonade out of these lemons.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Clean and Lean with Fat Out

Foods that are low in fiber or non-fiber at all move through the digestive system at a slower pace than high-fiber foods. This results to excess toxins building up in the intestinal walls. FatOut is made up of the super fiber, Psyllium Husk, which kick starts weight loss and flush toxins out of the colon effectively. Take FatOut and get rid of the excess body fat naturally!

The Big Picture

I really am not a fan of  political posts. I really don't like contradicting someone if the subject is based on opinions, because unlike cold, hard facts, opinions aren't unmoving like statistics, numbers and percentages. Opinions are so difficult to judge and can only measured by perspective.

Even as I say that, I really have to wonder how they chose their candidate. Most of the reasons I see point to how their candidate will change the Philippines.


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Healthy Gut with FatOut

Detoxifying your colon doesn't just remove the excess body weight but it also makes you feel better generally. Expulsion of toxins that accumulated over time improves your digestive system. As toxins are flushed away regularly, irregular bowel movement, constipation, and other gut problems are prevented. 

Detoxify regularly by adding FatOut to your diet.

FatOut has Sweep and Shred formula which helps in cleansing your colon and trimming down your extra fat. 

FatOut sweeps away toxins from your colon and shreds excess body fat. It is a combination of the following amazing ingredients - Psyllium Husk, Green Tea Extract, Pu’er Tea Extract, Aloe Vera Powder, Alfalfa and Oat Fiber – that promotes good digestive health and boosts weight loss all together.

Regulate your bowel movement and prevent tummy problems by constant removal of toxins. Stand out with FatOut! 

Experience a pampering kind-of-day with your idol, Kim Chiu. Check out the official FB page of FatOut for more information.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

FatOut For Safe Colon

Toxins in your colon can cause various health complications - irritability, digestive problems and even weight gain. This is why you should take necessary steps in cleaning your colon such as drinking enough water, adding more fiber and vegetables in your diet. 

There's also FatOut which assist in cleansing your colon the natural way.

FatOut has Sweep and Shred formula which helps in cleansing your colon and trimming down your extra fat. 

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The Next President

 In today’s society where everyone are tech savvy and social media has been instrumental in voicing one’s opinion, the issue of expressing our choice of presidential candidate could have some implications.

Monday, April 4, 2016

What should Parents Expect from Schools in the 21st Century

What should Parents Expect from Schools in the 21st Century? The current changes in the Philippine educational system, particularly with the K to12 program, expose many challenges that our educational sector has to face for it to be continuously effective and relevant in a fast-changing world. One can argue that the ways of the past no longer effectively meet the demands of the 21st Century; hence, we must reassess our expectations of schools and how they teach our children.