An activity of the Primer Group


A Special Integration Group (SIG) of the
International Society for the Systems Sciences (ISSS)
originally SGSR, Society for General Systems Research.







By Tom Mandel

Time - the future
Place - a school playroom
City - somewhere,
Length of course - about ten minutes

"Good Morning Class!"

"Good Morning Teacher"

"Welcome to your first day of school"

"Thank You teacher"

"Today we are going to start with Systemics, then we'll spend the rest of the day in play. Does anyone know what a system is?" The class doesn't respond as the level of whispering drops to a hush.

"Well, we'll start with a system. Everyone hold up your right hand, yes, that's right". All the six year olds hold up their hand. "Now hold up your other hand." All of them are holding up two hands." The level of excitement and suspense starts to rise as the childrens start to wave their hands in different ways.

"Ok, now move them slowly together." The class puts their hands together, the level of excitement rises even further.

"That's not a system!" The teacher shouts over the din. "Awwwww" some of the kids moan.

"Now, hold them apart again, O.K., now move them together fast!"

The kids all clap at the same time and a resounding CLAP is heard throughout the room.

"That's a system!" the teacher proclaims. The girls scream, the boys yell.

"Good" says the teacher. "Now listen to me, everyone please clap and don't stop till I raise my hand." They begin to clap furiously and the noise drowns out everything.

"Stop" the teacher says as she raises her hand. The clapping stops and a hush fills the room. "Now I want you to all clap your hands together like this." The teacher claps her hands slowly, rythimically. The class follows.

"That's organization." the teacher says. O.k. Now, can anyone give me another example of a system? Michelle raises her hand. "Yes Michelle?"

"Music is sys---te---mic." Stephanie stumbles over the word but she gets it out.

"Very good, Michelle." Suddenly Robert jumps up, "Yes!" he shouts, and starts clapping his hands to a Rap beat. "This is how my father did it."

"Very good Robert. O.k., class is over today, tomorrow we will talk about how we can take letters like ABC and put them together in different ways to make up, does anyone know?"

"Words." Robert shouts.

"That's right! Tomorrow we will talk about words and then how we put words together the same way." The class "ooohhhhhs"

Now it is time for social systems, everyone down to the playground for the rest of the day. The kids file out clapping in unison.


"Hi Michelle, how was you first day at school?"

"It was like music, and then I learned all these new games. But I am glad to be at home."


"I'm so tired." she plops doewn on the sofa. Mommy?"

Yes, Michelle?"

"How come you never told me you and daddy are systemic?"


"Yeah, you know, like a family?"

"What do you mean?"

"Well, when you and daddy go into the bedroom and lock your door, don't you clap and make music?"

"uhhhhhh...oh, you mean systems. The computer is a system."

"Oh no, mommy" Michelle jumps up to her feet in a sudden burst of energy. "Everything is a system, Mommy!"


"Everything, even us are putting words together right now. My teacher showed us how. Look, there's a system!" Michelle points out the window.

"Where Michelle, I don't see anything?"

"The clouds is the sky, mom. I know they are are a system. It only rains when they are around. I don't know what you call it though." Michelle slumps down into her chair."

"What wrong dear?"

"Mommy, will I ever be smart like you?

"Hmmmmm""Hmmmm, I think you already are, honey.


"Yes dear?"

"I love you ."

"Hmmm, I love you too." Mommy bends down and kisses Michelle on her hair.

"That's a system too, Mommy"

"What is?"

"We are, I and you and Clapping. Love is the clapping." Michelle looks dreamingly down at her finger nails, snapping her fingers together a couple times, smiles as the puppy jumps on her lap and says, "Can I feed the doggy mommy?"

"Sure, Honey." : )

The end
of the beginning...

by Tom Mandel

Stephanie's second day at school by Matthew Shapiro

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