Harmonious communities in Year 4

Unit of Inquiry

We’re nearing the end of our current unit of inquiry, and I thought it would be best if some of our students shared their understanding of two compassionate systems thinking tools we have used routinely in our space to develop an understanding of our central idea: People’s responses to the actions of others can influence the harmony of a community.


In Year 4, we use many, many thinking tools to inquire about our unit of inquiry, Sharing the Planet, and one of our focuses is the features of a harmonious community. One of the thinking tools we use is the Ladder of Inference.

We, everyday, climb the ladder regularly. The Ladder of Inference has 4 steps, pretty fitting for grade 4.

Those steps are:

1: Receive Information.

2: Add Meaning.

3: Make a Conclusion.

4: Take Action.

An example would be;

1. Sees rubbish.

2. People are littering.

3. People don’t care for the environment.

4: Shout at people.

These are the thing that prevent a harmonious community. However, climbing the ladder isn’t always bad.

For example;

1. Someone’s kind to you.

2. They are doing this because they care.

3. They care about me.

4. Say thank you.

See? Sometimes climbing the ladder is good, too! Why? Because the conclusion, saying thank you, actually is one of the fundamental features of a harmonious community. But back to the bad ways. Sometimes you just need to go back to the bottom and see what is actually happening and why they did what they did to sustain the harmony of the community.


In Year 4 we have been learning about our unit Sharing the Planet, this is the central idea: People’s responses to the actions of others can influence the harmony of a community. We have used a LOT of thinking tools, for example: The Iceberg.

The iceberg shows a little on the top but there’s much deeper down at the bottom. For example, say you saw a harmonious community. BUT that’s not all, you need to look under, the bottom of the iceberg. Under the iceberg, you see more than just a harmonious community you see forgiveness and loads of other things. The patterns of behaviour are helping, trust, friendliness, peace, kindness, including people, sharing, respect and teamwork. That’s just the start, there are LOADS more.

If you go down right to the very, very, very bottom you will see the mental models and the artifacts. Let’s start with artifacts. Artifacts are what else might cause the behaviours above, for example, agreements and laws. If you switch over to the other side of the iceberg you will find Mental models. Mental models are … say someone hit you accidentally; you have to keep your mental control, you shouldn’t take it too seriously, you should trust people that it was an accident to keep the harmony of the community.

Thanks Artie and Max, I couldn’t have said it better myself!