What do children's interactions on the playground have to do with foreign policy? How does science understanding in middle school relate to environmental disasters in third world countries? The causal patterns that we detect and how we act upon them pervade every aspect of our lives. These skills will only become more important in the future as our world becomes more global and more interconnected. Yet we aren't very skilled at thinking about causality. Research shows that instead we rely on limiting default assumptions that can lead to poor choices in a complex world. What can we do about it? This book offers ways to become aware of these patterns and to reframe our thinking to become more effective learners and citizens of the world. Through examples and accessible explanations, it offers a causal curriculum to enable more effective learning so that we can put the power of better causal understanding to work for ourselves and the next generation- for today and tomorrow.
Tina Grotzer, an associate professor of education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a senior researcher at Project Zero, studies how people reason about causal complexity and its implications for K-12 education and the public understanding of science. For this work, she received a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, one of the highest honors given by the United States government.
Ch 1: Introduction Part 1: The Lure of Simple Causality Ch 2: Simple Linear Causality: One Thing Makes Another Happen Ch 3: The Cognitive Science of Simple Causality: Why Do We Get Stuck? Part 2: Getting Beyond Simple: A Set of Causal Patterns for the Curriculum Ch 4: Domino Causality: Effects that Become Causes Ch 5: Cyclic Causality: Loops and Feedback Ch 6: Spiraling Causality: Escalation and De-escalation Ch 7: Mutual Causality: Symbiosis and Bi-Directionality Ch 8: Relational Causality: Balances and Differentials Part 3: Features of Complex Causality and Our Related Default Assumptions Ch 9: Across Time and Distance: Detecting Delayed and Distant Effects Ch 10: "What Happened?" vs. "What's Going On?": Thinking about Steady States Ch 11: What You Can't See Does Matter: Attending to Obvious and Non-Obvious Causes Ch 12: It's Not Always a Case of Who Did It: Minding Passive and Unintentional Causality Ch 13: Step by Step...Or Not: The Mind-Bending Concept of Simultaneous Causality Ch 14: Figuring Out What to Count On: Dealing with Stochastic Causality Ch 15: Isn't Anybody in Charge Around Here?: Attending to Distributed Causality and Emergence Part 4: Summing Up: The Implications for Helping a New Generation Understand Causal Complexity Ch 16: Putting it All Together: Teaching for Causal Complexity