Little Pickle Press - February 4, 2011
Linda Booth Sweeney began to write for children in earnest twelve years ago. Her articles have been accepted by Highlights Magazine for Children and her writing for adults can be found in numerous journals and magazines. Her current books include: The Systems Thinking Playbook (co-authored with Dennis Meadows) , and When a Butterfly Sneezes: A Guide for Helping Children Think about Connections Through Favorite Children’s Stories. Today we review her book, Connected Wisdom: Living Stories about Living Systems.
When you pick up this book, you’ll first notice the wonderfully elegant and spare illustrations by Guy Billout. These perfectly enhance the organization of the book, neatly divided into twelve natural laws of living systems. Each chapter is then complemented with a flawlessly rewritten folk tale from around the world, which illustrates through story the principles in each law.
Let us use Chapter 4 – Cooperation and Partnership – as an example. We learn that our world’s survival depends on sharing with each other through all levels of life, something clearly illustrated in nature as animals are fed… and are food… for each other. As Sweeney points out, “life on Earth has thrived not through combat or domination but through cooperation and partnership”. The popular folk tale, Stone Soup, is used to illustrate how a village keeps from starving, indeed feasts on a sumptuous stew, when everyone adds a little of what they have to the pot with a stone in it. “It is not the stone but the people of your village who performed the magic.” Such is the power of sharing.
In this month of Valentine’s Day and love, one might take the idea a step further by suggesting “living” systems are even stronger when they become “loving” systems. We often think of love as romance with hearts and flowers, but in truth, as love matures, it has many levels and aspects and all make for a stronger living system, whether in our homes, our workplaces, our communities, or the world. This month, consider all the ways that you reach out in love, and consider also how this strengthens the living systems in which you operate. Do you see how the two are connected, and that the important natural law of cooperation and partnership is really rooted in that fundamental emotion – love?
Please consider reading Connected Wisdom as a family project. The short chapters and fables make it accessible to children and adults alike. Use it as an opportunity to discuss the connections we have with each other and the different ways we express love in all our immediate living systems. More importantly, use the examples as a way to strengthen your own living systems by practicing the principles in your everyday life… and in your expressions of love.
Read the original review.
The Picnic Basket
Friday, June 5, 2009
Connected Wisdom gathers twelve stories from different cultures that each reveal a unique example of a living system and an approach to problem solving that focuses on interconnections, rather than on parts in isolation. A Balinese folktale tells the story of a gecko who cannot sleep because of the sparks from a firefly. He traces the cause of his complaint from one animal to another to the mosquitoes he depends on for his survival. Like this gecko, young readers will understand that all life is inter-related, and will be able to grasp the concept of the living system of "interdependence." In a Burmese folktale, a king spills a drop of honey on his windowsill, too little to bother cleaning up. Yet the drop draws a fly, which attracts a lizard, which is followed by a cat, then a dog, and the owners of the cat and the dog, each armed with a stick. When civil war erupts, the king and readers understand the living system of "linearity," in which an effect is disproportionate to its cause.
Says author Linda Booth Sweeney, "If kids understand living systems, they're more likely to think and act in informed ways and less likely to jump to blame a single cause for the challenges they encounter. As kids appreciate and learn about living systems, they see that connections in nature, people, problems and events bind us all."
Read the whole review here.