chapter  1
24 Pages

Applying systems theory to early years leadership

ByPatrick Whitaker

This chapter focuses on the origin and development of systems theory, the pioneers of systems theory and their contributions, systems theory in the literature of the education service in England, documents published by National College for School Leadership, and the wider literature of leadership and management. The words such as system, systemic, systematic and systematically, are in common use by native English speakers. It is useful to make a distinction between general meanings and specific meanings. Systems theory was proposed in the 1940s by the biologist Ludwig von Bertalanffy and furthered by Ross Ashby, an English psychiatrist. Von Bertalanffy was both reacting against reductionism and attempting to revive the unity of science. It is important to recognise that human organisations are complex systems which defy simplistic analysis. A systems framework can help us to make our method of questioning more reflective of the complexity present within a human system.