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MIT-house
 Tid: Onsdag 1997-11-19, 13:15-15:00
Plats: MIT-huset, MC 413

Docent Per Flensburg, Högskolan i Växjö: Churchman Design of Inquiring Systems - A Pedagogical Experiment

Abstract:

Churchman: Design of Inquiring Systems - A Pedagogical Experiment.

Per Flensburg

per.flensburg@masda.hv.se

Växjö University

The basis for the seminar is a course that I gave spring 97 at the master level at my department in Växjö. The title was "Systems thinking" and it was decided that Chruchmans book "Design of Iquiring Systems" was to be used and should be the only course literature. I had two purposes with the course, the first was to introduce Churchman and his systems thinking to the students, the other was for myself and that was to finally get an opportunity to carefully at least one of Churchman1s books. My main souce of inspiration is this desire was, of course, Kristo!

In a previous course I had used an examiantion form based upon the students doing regularly "home-work" during the course and supplying it continously for examination. This form was a great success, so I had beforehand decided that it was to used also during the systems thinking course.

My first idea was to give ordinary lectures on the book, but my time schedule was at that time very tight, dependent on certain external happenings, so I found the course start approaching more and more and my time for preparations decreasing in at least the same rate! Also the students start asking about the course. Then I got the scheme for the course and found it was to take place friday and monday. Since I thought I should not on regular basis force the students to work during the week-ends the situation was even worse. But then I got the very bright idea: Let the students read one chapter a week, let them write something about that chapter and supply it to the teacher before the lessons. Then I know 1) The students had for shure read the text 2) I could use their texts as starting point for my own investigations. This idea was carried out. The students was asked to submit about 4 kb comments to each chapter to me 24 hours before the lesson by using e-mail. I then read them; they triggered some ideas in my mind and I put them down as a comment. An example is shown in fig 1.

Emma: Om att arbeta ihop I separata system så kan olika system vara oberoende men samtidigt så kanske de arbetar parallellt som datakassor i en affär. Dessa kassor har samma huvuddator där de hämtar information om olika priser, men om den ena kassan stänger igen så påverkar inte den andra kassan. De arbetar ihop men ändå var för sig. Arbetar de verkligen ihop? Arbetar de inte bredvid? Det är väl först när ena kassörskan frågan den andra om något (t.ex. "Vad betyder kod 35?") som det blir tal om samarbete?

Fig 1 Example of a comment

Since all of the participants where Swedes I decided to give the course in Swedish. I also wrote a comment myself, but as I told my students, my comments were more referring than discussing. I had an idea of maybe creating some sort of digest.

The course turned out to be a great success! The students liked the demands that where put on them, they were, however, at the beginning a little "disoriented" about what it all was about. Especiallt they had problems whith a discrepancy

between the demand for clarity and exactness that was put forward by, especially Descartes and Locke and Churchman1s style of writing, which not that clear and obvious. However, this was a temporary problem, it was soon overcome and they liked being forced to think in other ways than usual.

Another interesting point was all the discussions about God. The students were not used to that kind of discussions and one frankly stated: "I discuss God with my priest on sundays!" None of us was active christian, but still I think we all

realized one possible role for something that could be called God. After the course was finished I had 6 MB material on my harddisk where I had written about 50% myself. The follow up was obvious: A book about Churchman's "Design of Inquiring Systems"!



Välkommna!
Kenneth Nilsson


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