Posts Tagged ‘Teaching’

NEBSI & System Dynamics

October 26, 2017

We like to say that, “A house is a system”.  If you change one thing in a system, something else is likely to change.  It’s not always something that you are expecting to change.  The spotlight over the sink in the kitchen may generate enough heat on the surface of the roof above to melt the snow. The water runs down the roof and freezes, creating an ice dam.  The water backs up under the shingles and runs down inside the wall cavity and shows up in the basement.

Consider the house as a thermal system.  When it’s colder outside than it is inside, the house loses heat and cools.  It will continue to cool until the inside temperature reaches the outside temperature.  The regulator is the ability of the structure to resist the flow of heat.  A heating sVensim House Temp1ource in the house moderates the flow. The loops in the system can be modelled mathematically; each loop impacts the others in a model that can be increasingly complex as details are added.

Consider the occupants in a house.  If you consider their health as similar to the temperature, if there is carbon monoxide in the house, the more CO the more dangerous the environment.  The system loop is simple to predict – the more CO the more impact.  The cause of the CO is the driver of the loop.  Determining the cause of the CO requires knowledge of what creates CO.  The analyst who determines the cause needs to be trained.  The more knowledgeable the analyst the more the correct cause will be determined.

The loops continue to flow out, driving just this one aspect of the health in a house.  The occupants need to understand that they should not take the batteries out of the CO detector.  The code officials need to know that CO can be caused in a house and enact legislation that CO detectors are required.  Code officials have to confirm that the regulations have been complied with.  Insurance companies need to know that the occupants of the house won’t be at risk.

All of these complex loops can be modelled so that the system can be made understandable, any missing elements determined, and the most important points highlighted.  Where would more training make the most impact?  The more participants who understand the systems, the greater the impact on making homes safer, more comfortable, more affordable, more desirable, healthier, and more energy efficient.

The NorthEast Building Science Institute (NEBSI) is based on developing such understanding and making the connections and improving the system.

NorthEast Building Science Institute (NEBSI)

Systems Dynamics Society

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Teaching is a Privelege

June 8, 2015

Teaching is an honor and a privilege.  I know something and you want to learn it and you are Labrador Classroomwilling to listen to me define, describe, demonstrate, and pass on the information in my mind into your mind.  Wow!

When I was in school, the teachers or instructors or professors were the authorities.  They could throw chalk at me if I dozed off.  I had to be there.  It was a requirement.  They were in charge.  I didn’t understand much of what they were babbling about.  But in fact, teachers don’t have jobs if there aren’t students.  The teacher works for the student.  It works like the Vulcan Mind-meld in Star Trek without the touching.  The students should not sit there passively just listening.  They should be actively engaged in the transfer of information. And if they don’t understand a point, they should make the teacher or instructor or professor explain it another way until it makes sense . . . until it is clear, equally clear in both minds.  I never had a teacher explain that he/she was working for me.

John Krigger says that “teaching is not proving how smart you are”.   And he’s right.  There is a definite sense of power standing in front of an audience of eager faces, hanging on your every word.  And it is tempting to drop names and connections of the famous and powerful whether you know them or not, puffing up your character.  There is a point for a teacher to establish their credentials.  But as my grandmother used to say, “Enough is as good as a feast!”  We all like to be taught by recognized authorities.  The point is not who you are but your ability and skill to transfer the information.  If you know a lot, you have a duty to pass it on.

My first teaching experience was in a one room school on the coast of Labrador.  It was the extreme authority experience.  I was just 22.  Straight out of college with no teaching training.  When the ship I came in and dropped me off, they started ringing the church bell in the town.  I learned later that they expected me to hold a service.  Tradition was that the teacher was the authority figure in the town.  The teacher made the rules . . . for the whole town!  It was akin to being the king.  No one had explained that to me so I didn’t know the tradition.  But I felt it in the respect they gave me.

It took me a lot of years to get back to teaching and even more years to understand the honor and privilege that it is to be allowed to do it.  I learn more every single time I teach.


If you are planning to challenge the BPI Quality Control Inspector’s certification, you might find the Quality Control Inspector’s Residential Handbook helpful.  Scheduled for publication on June 1, 2015.  For updates and a discount on publication, please add your name and email address by clicking on the book below.

QCI Handbook Cover copy

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