Systems Theory in the Light of Three Scientists

Analyzing the Education system of Hispanic women in the light of Peter Senge

Peter Senge presents the idea of learning as organizational success and analyzes learning on the basis of what he refers to as ‘shift of mind’. It is this ‘shift’ that is responsible for bringing change to any undervalued race or cast. For this, he emphasizes on the Western culture to contemplate on ‘metanoia’ what happens in a learning organization when it grasps the deeper meaning of learning because learning also involves a process where individuals are required to broaden their understanding by moving their traditional way of thinking towards the newer process on the behalf of fundamental shift or movement of mind (Senge, 1990, p. 13). Senge’s perception of learning organization revolves around five basic disciplines that are presented by Jarvis et al (2003, p. 152) as personal mastery, mental models, shared vision, team learning, and systems thinking.

On the other hand, if we talk about Hispanic women, there is no doubt that quantitative surveys of Hispanic women are whenever conducted, they have shared a common number of characteristics revealing that they possess a strong sense of purpose and belief in their ability to succeed. Collard & Reynolds (2005) when interviewed Hispanic participants, reflected a profound knowledge of self and a strong connection to their parents. They were also aware of the understanding among various political, social, economic, and educational inequities in Florida county. According to one of the college deans of Florida county, all of these individuals were bridged people who accounted for their success their commitment to social justice. However, one of the school’s policy directors emphasized that it is very hard for the school administration programs to produce advocates for social change because schools are principally socializing instruments that do not have cultures that possess the confidence and security to prepare people for change (Collard & Reynolds, 2005, p. 167). This sentence illustrates a huge difference between being ‘cultural possession’ and ‘multicultural’ because what we are providing the upcoming Hispanic nation is the multicultural approach in the name of cultural segregation.

The statement uttered by the school’s policy director contradicts what Senge believes that no real change could start to occur unless new ideas are internalized. In this context Senge highlights what cultural change brings i.e., what must not be taken for granted is the constant stimulation progress in improving two things, “the moral climate of the organization and the individual moral maturity of the people within” (Senge & O’Brien, 2008, p. 4). Most of the institutions in Florida county lacks what the above discusses as ‘moral climate’ and possess ‘moral maturity. This illustrates what Senge focuses on the difference between a value and a mental model. According to Senge & O’Brien (2008, p. 6) a value is a constant eternal truth about human nature that an individual believes is important and right, whereas the mental model is a set of assumptions we develop about how the world or other complex systems work. Therefore through the mental model, we process information in a more effective manner and make proper decisions. However, the mental model being a variable allow us the flexibility to rebuild and reexamine our assumptions. In this case, we can say that Hispanic women belong to the ‘value’ whereas their learning organizations serve as ‘mental models. But these mental models are lame because they are not used to rethink their organizational infrastructure of learning.

Peter Senge’s management philosophy is applicable to those best practices that after identifying loopholes for alternative school settings serve students at risk, just as discussed above, individuals having values but are not subject to experience perfect mental models. This is due to the reason they are restricted to their cultural phenomenon and does not allow a single change either in their vision or their systemic approach. This in the long run limits their approach to consider eligible for education only male youth. This thinking needs to be changed and refined through promoting multicultural education that would immediately raise the validity and necessity of not limiting education to the boys alone, but educating Hispanic girls according to the latest systems thinking in organizational leadership as presented by Peter Senge.

From the term ‘personal mastery’ what Senge signifies is the current and future leaders that initiate and choose any path of personal growth according to their own choice and will, because mastery is a personal experience that can be acquired with personal interest and cannot be forced. This is not at all followed because most of the Hispanic families keep their females out of literacy programs. In this paradigm, Hispanic education must be promoted in Florida county where despite being a constant increase in sheer numbers of immigrant students, the responsibility for educating immigrant students is not evenly shared across the country (Garcia, 2001, p. 82).

Regarding female Hispanic education, Garcia (2001, p. 197) discovers through the facts that though Hispanic students’ growth in the nation is moving towards stabilization, their school dropouts rates are high and depict limited access to higher education. Myths point out that Hispanic families are tied to their cultural values and therefore do not appreciate their girls to acquire higher education. This contradicts what Garcia terms as reality and suggests that 94 percent of Hispanics showed contentment over the notion that even married women possess the right to complete their education. With low levels of achievement and higher dropout rates (Garcia, 2001, p. 197), it is often found through literature that there is some traditional manners of status attainment that do not allow their females to go for enrollment in higher education. Here the question is not whether they do or do not allow their women to acquire literacy standards, but what bothers is how their vision ought to be cleared for a better understanding towards education.

If we put the above scenario in the context of Senge’s philosophy, it gives us a murky picture of Hispanics that do not share a common vision and purpose. Although they are united as long as their cultural values are concerned, for education, they still lag behind the approach that Senge calls a true organizational learning approach. On the other hand, Hispanic schools particularly in Florida county are never been ‘learning organizations’, since they lack the real purpose to intentionally nurture the newcomers that come to them through a variety of channels (including immigrants). Such learning institutions never bother about the stake female students take while continuing with their education, how far they go to settle disputes with their family members as a result of letting them carry on with their education. This contradicts with what Herman (2007) believes Senge refers to as making meaning in organizational life is a life long process of growth, after which often professionals, as well as institutions, think their education ends with graduate school, but since learning is a lifelong experience that requires a practical approach, it never stops.

There is no reality that multicultural educational projects cannot bring harmony to infuse a shared approach. After many decades teachers in Florida county are more oriented towards recognizing their true responsibility to identify cultural differences and establish within the limited framework of these differences, an environment that encourages all of their students. But unfortunately, such relationships between students and teachers develop on the basis of gender bias. There is a concern of whether or not teachers have been adequately prepared to establish a learning environment for male students that is fair and encouraging to students from a variety of cultural and racial backgrounds. There are teachers who still prioritize students on the basis of gender while establishing differential expectations and discipline patterns which are actually discouraging and detrimental to female groups of students.

Such attitude never escorts toward team-building approach. As a result, systems thinking is never achieved, because nothing tends to be methodological thinking and the system remains devoid of feedback where the institutional leaders never bother to analyze their created ‘model of learning’.

Education System of Hispanic Women under the influence of Karl Ludwig von Bertalanffy (1955)

As a father of general systems theory, Ludwig von Bertalanffy proposed the concept of the open and closed system theory which was inspired by his work in developmental biology. A significant contribution to the field was based on the argument that living organisms cannot be understood as equilibrium systems since they possess the capability of maintaining themselves in a continual non-equilibrium state. This identifies two distinct types of systems thought, mechanistic and organismic (Von Bertalanffy, 1968, p. xxiii). Amazingly, human sociology belongs to both the thoughts where they maintain complex levels of organization which they import through matter and energy from the environment and export their entropy or waste. Bertalanffy does not believe in the traditional spontaneous emergence of traits that human beings possess, in context with developments in chaos theory. The reason is that Bertalanffy envisions similar insights on the autonomy, creativity, and spontaneity of living organisms, and believes that human nature depicts all the progressive emerging traits that complex self-organizing systems uphold.

Such a behaviorist conception of the organism if viewed passively in contribution to a view of humanity not only justifies totalitarian forms of social control. But what Bertalanffy believes is that it emphasizes the active and self-organizing character of human behavior (Hammond, 2003, p. 18). Nevertheless, Bertalanffy distinguishes between the two approaches on the basis of their organizing concepts which we can apply to Hispanic women i.e., the significance of feedback and homeostasis. Since human beings react in a non-equilibrium state, they are exposed to justify some sort of action and reaction. Both the factors depend upon the intensity to which they are put to practice. For example, Hispanic women can get better opportunities to be independent to choose their own careers if they react strongly to their surroundings, particularly the internal system of learning institutions.

Bertalanffy places ‘feedback’ and ‘equilibrium’ in cybernetics and open systems and dynamic interactions in GST and reveals that since cybernetics are subjected to possess equilibrium models, GST is based on the idea of systems in non-equilibrium states. The cybernetic model as a creation of Bertalanffy elucidates stimulus-response which emerges as a result of a feedback loop in every living organism and reacts unlike the organismic model of GST. This suggests that Bertalanffy portrays every living organism as fundamentally active with an appropriate process and function in contrast to the cybernetic emphasis on equilibrium and structure.

Such an image of individuals in society is in contrast to the behavioristic conception of man that illustrates him in a cybernetic society of equilibrium states demonstrating him as a robot to a certain extent. Bertalanffy suggests that since human behavior could not be entirely elucidated in terms of biological patterns, it gives him a clear picture of how to react in an open society by understanding the self in relation to the world. Human beings according to Bertalanffy’s approach are capable of responding back to the dynamical system to change in either a linear or a nonlinear manner. Most of the social work theorists agree with the idea of nonlinear change that individuals possess as long as they are subjected to illustrate these terms in nonlinear dynamics.

Human beings are like a one-dimensional line that is straight in nature that transforms according to the situation and illustrates simple cause and effect relationships where a change in A is responsible for bringing a proportional change in B. So, if an individual hurts society or commits a crime as a reaction he may be punished according to the legal jurisdiction. Relationships involve feedback with appropriate cause-and-effect reasoning so that they are free to recursively act on one another in a way that reflects through the system in an unpredictable manner that may cause very rapid change.

Human social systems are just like these cause-and-effect relationships that are embedded within a society in a manner marked by rapid shifts in the level of organizational learning. An example is that of revolutions which make it possible for them to anticipate in an environment created by the prerequisite conditions for such rapid changes in real-world systems and then to foster them. What Senge suggests in this context is that such rapid changes are not necessarily dependent upon the enormous amount of scenarios created or triggered by input, but the nonlinearity that is genetically inherent in complex systems describes that even a small input can bring about a large output provided the input occurs at the right time and the right place (Senge, 1990).

This when considered in the case of Hispanic education, presents a clear picture of how Hispanic women can bring revolution in Florida County. At present, according to Senge’s approach, a slight increase in the intuition and will of Hispanic women can bring revolution in their learning organizations, whereas if we perceive the situation as per Bertalanffy’s theory since Hispanic women act as the organismic model of GST. They can bring revolution in their system according to the cause and effect relationship.

This indicates the difference between Senge and Bertalanffy’s breadth of the idea that escorts to organized complexity in GST which suggests that human social systems, unlike proposed by Senge are identified by similarly rapid shifts in the level of organization. Senge believes that such ‘rapid shifts’ need not be huge. Despite the differences in both the theorists’ approaches, the issue is not pertaining to the debate about how gender undermines educational opportunities which are theoretically equal. But for how long the Hispanic culture will continue to segment the youth which is bifurcated in various educational practices and outcomes, how long will it take the teachers to seize discrimination, and how the all-pervasive discourses of femininity and masculinity shape school experience to come to a halt. There is only one solution to all these issues and that is to revolutionize their thinkings, their approach, and their institutional systems.

Kenneth E. Boulding and Hispanic Education

Boulding suggests a strong disposition in human society that provides the people with a room to organize the unorganized group so as to develop organization and for organizations to develop even where there has been no consciousness of a group previously, in which case the organization itself creates the group that it expresses and embodies (Boulding, 1963, p. 145). This notion can go along with the ideology of multiculturalism that plays a vital role in Florida’s certain dysfunctional tendencies found in learning institutions. There are many unorganized groups in the premises of Hispanic groups that are influenced by gender, race, and class. This has affected their capabilities to make decisions due to the fear of conflict. Cultural encounters in the name of conflict are intense and when it comes to being a multicultural society, the stronger group, whose particular culture has historically had the upper hand, continues to have it resulting in inequality. Boulding’s theory fits in the shoe of Florida county since Boulding suggests that organizations frequently organize themselves against something, and often in the absence of a perception of conflict because their reason for existence is weakened or disappears and they suffer from internal disorganization or even dissolution (Boulding, 1963, p. 145).

Although many of the institutional barriers which once prevented girls and women from receiving the same educational opportunities as male members of the society have been alleviated. What is left is the blatant discrimination that comes in the glory of women to choose their paths such as the rules which once prevented women from taking their degrees at Oxford and Cambridge. What is unchanged is the perception that prevails the existence of formal barriers in informal processes which effectively designated some subjects as male domains in which women and girls are not welcome. Gender divisions in education are not alleviated in fact it would be better to say that they have to some extent gone underground while flourishing in the face of considerable effort to suppress them.

Boulding points out that one of the problems of social organization presents the criteria in which people surround themselves in a limited boundary-like structure in order to acquire freedom without conflict. The dilemma with such measures is that they can only be taken as assumptions or rough topological illustrations rather than as exact measures because the greater the area of freedom is required i.e., the area within the boundary of possibility, the limited would be the choice and cost of that freedom. As an economist, Boulding illustrates that such a situation that restricts individual freedom in the society is due to problems in social dynamics in systems being unstable and are frequently subject to unpredictable change. Nevertheless, the succession of states of a social system is not random because of the fact that some of the usual regularities are easily detected and even if the system is not stable enough to permit unconditional prediction of its future states, at least enough can usually be known about it to set limits on the probability of various future positions (Boulding, 1963, p. 19).

The limited boundary as described above may be put into a broader sense in which females may be getting a good education as male members of the Florida County but this fact alone does not secure for them the same lifetime advantages or occupational benefits that it does for men. This is illustrated when an organization despite realizing the myriads about equality in terms of employment possesses a formal commitment to equality of women’s education and opportunity and demonstrates through its social structure internal policies that there are reasons to prefer men (despite being less qualified than women) over women. This is obvious that occupational mobility is not the same among them as education, but research presents before us how little difference getting a good education may make to women and their careers and how the percentage of women getting into senior managerial jobs in Florida County is declining.

This when to be taken under the theory of Boulding illustrates the economic scenario inclusive of the static equilibrium models that work best under conflict processes resulting in a change in view of sociologists of education that have shifted their interest away from formal obstacles towards interpersonal and interaction processes. It is Boulding’s systemization of the economic analysis that has brought forward such gender-biased movements with reference to the psychoanalysis approach. Psychoanalysis because like economic capital it needs to be presented and addressed just like a ‘marketer’ by the Florida County women.

Boulding mentions through one of the economist skills that lies in the analysis of the behavior of commodities that skills are not prevalent in the behavior of men through communication but it reveals through commodities (Boulding, 1958, p. 32). Commodities do not refer to the close relationship that exists between men and their subject matters, however, it points to the main contributions of the social sciences to the conduct of business have not only come from the economic side but from the more ‘behavioral sciences’ of psychology and sociology (Boulding, 1958, p. 32). This clearly states the way Boulding sees human sciences in relation to the psychology of advertising. This when visualized under the broad paradigm in the sociology of education, states that those Hispanic women who got the chance to acquire education ought to illustrate their capabilities through marketing their professional careers. This not only boosts the morals of those who are less educated but also would serve as the first step towards ethnicity and gender dislodged class as the main theme and the effects of this have made the whole field less traditionally sociological.

However, for those who still lie in the interpersonal culture focus, more has been done than adding a nail to the coffin of class as the backbone of the sociology of education by demonstrating the need for a theory that encompasses or articulates individual and institutional processes. Such processes tend to wide fluctuations that incur in the economic policy of the Western world and results in intolerable dimensions in output and employment. Known by the name ‘economic cybernetics’ (Boulding, 1950, p. 303) it unrestrain and unrestrict capitalism exhibiting complex and irregular fluctuations in its basic aggregates which are diagnostic of a lack of adequate equilibrium mechanisms. What according to Boulding the system needs is a governor of adequate sensitivity that underestimates the degree of equilibrium or self-regulating ability, which exists in a free market economy. Furthermore it presents the unwillingness of man to behave like matter. Therefore, we can say that the need for developing adequate cybernetic mechanisms for a free economy among the three theorists was first proposed was Boulding. Thus, such proposition never remained able to achieve stability only at the cost of tyranny or stagnation as this was the first priority in developing similar cybernetic mechanisms for the stabilization of peace. It is this cybernetics that later embedded into the works of Peter Senge and discussed decision and control in an organizational infrastructure.

There are similarities between the theories proposed by the three theorists, all escorting towards one common theory of general systems. Peter Senge theoretically utilized systems theory in multidisciplinary human resource works within organizations, whereas Bertalanffy technically embedded GST in various research works pertaining to biological and psychological engineering. Boulding utilized systems approach to evaluate various dimensions of marketing and economics and as a result was able to propose models of markets. Nonetheless, GST possesses the potential to be applicable to those areas of human paradigm that are either negotiated in the name of cultural norms or are taken for granted for future generations.


  1. Boulding, E. Kenneth. (1950). A Reconstruction of Economics: Wiley: New York.
  2. Boulding, E. Kenneth. (1958). The Skills of the Economist: Howard Allen: Cleveland, OH.
  3. Boulding E. Kenneth. (1963). Conflict and Defense: A General Theory: Harper: San Francisco.
  4. Collard John & Reynolds Cecilia. (2005). Leadership, Gender and Culture in Education: Male and Female Perspectives: Open University Press: Maidenhead, England.
  5. Garcia, E. Eugene. (2001). Hispanic Education in the United States: Alas Y Raices.
  6. Hammond Debora. (2003). The Science of Synthesis: Exploring the Social Implications of General Systems Theory: University Press of Colorado: Boulder, CO.
  7. Herman, V. Douglas. (2007). Celebrating Courage in the Learning Organization. Reclaiming Children and Youth. Volume: 16. Issue: 3, p. 50.
  8. Jarvis Peter, Holford John & Griffin Colin. (2003). The Theory & Practice of Learning: Kogan Page: London.
  9. Senge, Peter. (1990). The fifth discipline: The art and practice of the learning organization. New York: Doubleday.
  10. Senge, M. Peter & O’Brien J. William. (2008). Character at work: Building Prosperity through the practice of Virtue.
  11. Von Bertalanffy, L. (1968). General system theory: Foundations, development, applications. New York: George Braziller.