Starting Network Thinking Young

As this “21st Century Organization” blog takes the view that operating organizations as networks is key to 21st century business success, we are constantly scanning for related resources.

This recent find intrigues because of its promise that the next generation emerges as systems thinkers.  Australia’s Victorian State Department of Education and Early Childhood Development includes “networks” in a  mathematics curriculum for students in years 7-8.  Here’s the link to explore and a teaching example:

Illustration 2: Networks are not maps

This network shows the places that Mat can go to on his bike (the network nodes), with the riding times between places shown. Lines are drawn between nodes with a direct bike path between them.

It is not a map of the town. In exploring the differences, students can explain why proximity on the network does not indicate short times. They can use the network to find the quickest times between places (e.g. from school to river), but they cannot make conclusions that are not about time such as distance or location.

I wonder if your school system’s mathematics curriculum teaches “networks’ and if so at what grade level?