I am reading a few new books. On the flight to HK I read The World Beyond Your Head by Mathew Crawford…..some really interesting ideas, and focussing on how much we live in an age of distraction, where everyone is fighting for our attention…..and how our mental lives are so fractured and disrupted. He give one example of someone who was about to open a beer at a BBQ and relax, but the phone blipped and it was a work mesage and he started to think of things he still had to do and , and , and………yes demanding our attention and mental effort all the time. The book is quite good, well reasonable, especially the section on embodied perception, and the contribution of neuroscience has made to the recent understanding of the human experience. There is a section on how new technology can mediate the human experience, and that we accommodate this sometimes in an unconscious way, we simply embrace it and make it work for us….gesture based technologies are doing this in my view, merging once again the human cognitive processing with bodily gestures and new movements. This has potential if used and developed in the right way, to help humans overcome the limitations of one dimensional writing and speech. The end of the book has some interesting advice for higher education: there is reference to the students sitting in class with a silent conviciton that what is on offer is undeserving of full attention and engagement….this problem he says is exacerbated by the availability of the hyperpalatable mental stimuli…..but then he says he believes this is really due to the disembodied nature of the curriculum, which divorces the articulate content of knowledge from the pragmatic setting in which its values become apparent………only beautiful things lead us out to join the world beyoind our heads! The digital invasion of the teenage mind is in full flow I guess…..the book can seem a litle slow and drawn out in some places…No Logo by Naomi Klein is good on this topic but from a different perspective, as she really focuses on how the corporate world has occupied most spaces in order to capitalise on the human gaze…and she suggests that there are few private spaces left…..even the slips sent home to parents from schools in the states have advertising on, and the head rest on the taxi in HK had advertising on as we drove past the giant post airport advertising boards featuring the big names in handbags, perfume and fashion…………………..I guess eventually the human species will grow tired of this and enter a new era after the product-experience hybrid consumption something else will follow….as the stores now all look the same in the shopping malls wherever you go. There is a growing sense of a need for a potentially transformative era and it may be on the horizon – but it does seem a log way off. I have also been reading Sapiens: a brief history of humankind, by Yuval Harari, the Establishment by Owen Jones (very revealing about our British society), and a new book called Touch: the science of hand heart and mind, by David Linden……and a few other books on various forms of human sensory capacities. BUT I have really enjoyed the Wizard of the Upper Aamazon….the story of Manuel Cordova-Rios who was kidnapped by a tribe when he was fifteen years old and was groomed to become the future chief…..his stories are amazing especially of the processes of entering the spirit world of jungle plants and animals in order to gain understanding and guidance for leading the tribe and for expertise in feeding and hunting etc., under the guidance of the chief (and ayahuasca). Today the drugs are different. There is a new book out called Experience, about Disney World and how the understanding of the four natural drugs of pleasure have helped them design the Disney Experience for your kids: Endorphines, Serotin, Oxytocin, and Dopamine…..not sure I am ready to read that yet!
My hammock is proving to be useful again as I have pitched it on the edge of the forest here on Tai Mo Shan. One participant enjoyed it during one of our Coffee and Papers sessions – trying out the art of reading in a state of relaxated alertness in a hammock. People were reading about Planned and Emergent Learning, and the balance of planning to learn and taking opportunities to learn from emerging experiences. At the end of the paper there is reference to the work of Rennie Fritchie and two fundamental questions she asks when life planning: 1. what kind of human being do you want to be?, and 2. what do you want to do with your life?
Now they are big questions……
I have just finished delivering a two day introduction to faciliation programme at Kadoorie Farm and Botanical Gardens in Hong Kong. This organisation delivers some impressive events and workshops, including silence and solitude, personal transformation, mmindfulness, talking to plants, reconnecting to nature, and many other exciting and challening subjects. One of these last year was on:
‘exploring and finding a new balanced relationship between nature and humans. We will retrace the origins of our present unsustainable way of living and look at ways to move forward sustainably. We will try to discover the balanced relationship that we once had in our past that is hidden in ancient wisdom and traditions, such as in Daoism.
We will look for this new world-view through the insights of quantum physics, open up vistas that move beyond the materialistic approach and build holistic thinking in caring for Planet Earth. Lecturer Shantena Augusto Sabbadini will visit KFBG later this year…..Past workshop:
‘When Quantum Physics meets Daoism” 5-day Residential Workshop 2014
- From Primitive Cultures to Modern Science
- Quantum Physics: A New Paradigm
- Quantum Physics and Wholeness
- The Primacy of Experiencing
- Introduction to Holistic Science
- The Nameless Dao
- Daoist Wisdom for Our Times
- The Future: Complexity, Gentle Action and Citizenship in the 21st Century
I am doing a two day communication course tomorrow and I will be looking at how humans began to communicate, and the evolution of speech and the written form from the more-than-human world sounds to the pictographic and ideaographic origins of language …….(and so the q is is one of the last few remnants of our connection of the alphabet with nature – our divorce from our language conneciton with our natural surroundings – as this represents the hebrew letter for monkey = ‘qoph’, and the evolution of the visual rebus e.g. bee-leaf) …..and phonetics, we will explore communicating with the senses & how to observe communications, communicating with the head, communicating with the body, communicating with the heart, communicating as a whole person, and communicating with nature……looking forward to it and learning more with some brilliant and passionate staff here at Kadoorie.
As I have mentionned before in a blog this is where (Dame) Jane Morris Goodall comes to stay and work with staff, as does Satish Kumar of the Schumacher College…..Considered to be the world’s foremost expert on chimpanzees Jane Goodall is best known for her 55-year study of social and family interactions of wild chimpanzees in Africa. She has served on the board of the Nonhuman Rights Project since its founding in 1996.
I would love to meet Jane Goodall one day.
It is a busy time of the year for many academics here in the UK. We are busy marking a huge number of scripts and research projects. I now used speech recognition software and it makes my life much easier. As I read through the document I can simply speak about what I am reading and what I see. It is so easy to get very specific information about basic errors such as punctuation and the layout of references. I have found that I could do my marking in half the time and yet give the students twice as much feedback. This is a ‘factor 4′ difference!
I have also been reading about the human senses over the last few years. I’m intrigued by the fact that so many of our emotions are described in on sensorial language. This makes sense:I have long argued that sensory intelligence is more important than emotional intelligence. Although I have produced an audioo book on sensory intelligence I am always looking for a publisher who would help me publish a general book for the public on sensory intelligence! With a greater awareness of the sensory data coming into our bodies we are more likely to be able to understand our emotional responses. The emotional responses are often swift and unpredictable and difficult to regulate. Emotions of course are our reactions in the brain played out in the theatre of the body. Using hypnosis people have shown that it is impossible to have an emotion in our minds without a corresponding bodily state. A rather simple example is when we look up to the blue sky and beautiful day and try to feel sad, or if we clench our fists and purse our lips and then try and feel happy! It is also interesting that emotions are described as feelings: to feel is of course to touch. Here are some examples of sensory metaphors: I am touched by your concern, I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings, I felt sad, you’re so prickly at times, that really moved me, she is such a warm person, he can be a bit cold at times.
On the subject of touch it is fascinating that the very fastest braille readers can read 200 words a minute thanks to the mechanosensors in the fingertips. It is ironic that the inventor of braille was a young boy who was blinded at three years old because he was playing with a leather punch in his father’s workshop. He tried to get a close-up view as he punched a hole through a scrap of leather but the instrument skidded across the leather and stabbed him in the eye. Because of infection the boy lost both eyes and became blind. He was so frustrated with the very slow method of reading at that time using copper wire on paper to create individual letters. Eventually later in life the boy used punch mechanism similar to the one that blinded him to create raised dots to produce a code for each letter of the alphabet. In essence braille uses a compact two by three row grid of raised dots.
We have the longest childhood of any animal and touch is not an option for our young ones. Touch is highly developed in the human species and indeed it is touch that may have been central to our evolutionary advancement. If childhood is not filled with loving touch the consequences are serious.
I am attending the ICEL confernece in St Louis (US) in July this year and will be giving a paper on the evolution of experiential learning, and a workshop on experience mapping. The website is: icel.co/
If you are interested in attending a Master Class in Singapore this August (11th, 12th and 13th) do let me know your details by e-mailing me. The event will feature exciting methods and underlying pciniples focussing on experiential design, and facilitation, and we will be working within a whole person approach. It will be active and engaging and fun..so join us if you can.
A master class is also being delivered in Slovakia this October over a weekend, and in India in December. Email for more details.
If you would like to join a Master Class on Experiential Learning in either
Singapore in August
Slovakia in October or
India in December
please contact me for details.
These programmes will last: 2 days in Slovakia and 3 days in
Several very powerful techniques, together with the underlying principles, will be covered. Find out how the brain and body work together in harmony to improve our learning. Find out about the natural human GPS system, and exciting methods to enhance creativity and innovation. Experience the famous ‘coffee and papers’ exercise each day at 11 am! Try out exceptional ‘customer service training’, and a new advanced ‘communication wheel’.
The programmes all use active hands-on approaches that are fun and engaging.
The impact on your own facilitation and training will be very positive.
We went to visit our nearest Chilean neighbours when we were at the biobioriverlodge. They live relatively simple lives, working the land, herding and protecting their stock. My son got to cross the biobio river river on a rope bridge, and meet the local guys as they came back to their farmhouse on horseback. This area has the biggest population of Pumas in S. America. One took a lamb from this farm three days before.
The scenery was amazing!
My son and I came out of Santiago de Chile airport just after Xmas to start a great adventure in north Patagonia.
We cashed in some money and found out we were millionaires!!!! Well in Peso/Chilean dollars.
We are now back in Santiago and flying home soon. Packing to go out and packing to return are both long jobs. We had a great trip staying in the biobioriverlodge about 30 mins drive into the mountains from Lonquimay. The name Lonquimay means the meeting place (of the Pewenche chiefs). In the lodge we had sweet tasting water from a stream, electricity from a generator for three hours each night, and we cooked on a stove using bottled gas. The area is known as the Aaraucania region after the Chilean
Monkey Puzzle trees that are enormous in the area.
We travelled down from Santiago by road, on the Pan American highwaythat runs all the way down from Alaska to the far south of Chile. We also went through a mountain tunnel that was 5km in length (and I think the longest tunnel in S.America).
We have dome a lot of kayaking, trecking, and some white water rafting. We crossed the border into Argentina through the Icalma pass, just for a day.
It was here that Camilo and I considered a kayaking expedition around the Lagos Alumine for December 2016 (see picture below) with some practice in N.Ireland in Strangford Loch earlier that year! More to follow soon – with some rafting pictures.
Our two woodburners are keeping us warm in this damp and cold UK climate. I hope to see in the New Year of 2015 with my young son in a remote part of South America. It will be summer time over in Chile. We fly first to Santaigo then travel down to stay in the biobioriverlodge in Patagonia – so if you wonder why I am not responding to e-mail it is because there is no internet out there! I really do hope and prey KLM will manage to get our luggage out there! Last time I was kayaking out there I had no equipment and no tent and few clothes, and it was the third time my luggage was lost in transit (the previous lost luggage was for China and India). The riverlodge is a great place for adventurers, with lots of active things to do and a great place to stay – take a look on the website. I am really looking forward to the horse riding, which I havent done for years, and the kayaking, on the crystal clear lakes. My good friend and lodge owner Camilo really loves fishing, so he may well get us to ty fly fishing. On my return to the Uk I hope to be completing the more detailed planning for new Experiential Master Class events in Slovakia, Singapore and possibly Malaysia. There are more higher education lecturer development programmes booked for Malaysia in August 2015. Please do e-mail me if you need more information……..
I returned to Prague again recently to deliver a keynote speech at the International Mountaineering and Outdoor Sports Conference held at Charles University. What a lovely experience, meeting some great adventurers. I gained a few new friends: one managed to get me out running each morning at 6.30 am in the dark! The three days were packed with interesting speakers and papers and most speakers only had 15 mins to present there case so it was all rather fast and furious each day requiring high levels of concentration!
My speech/paper was about the adventages of taking a multi-disciplinary perspective on experiential learning.
The paper was adapted from a new chaper I have written for a forthcoming
Routledge International Handbook on Outdoor Education.
Prague has not changed much, still an amazing place with superb buildings.
I am sure Charles Bridge still had many of the street artists that were there many years ago when I last visited.
The hotel I was staying in, The Krystal, was rather drab looking on the outside but the rooms were good. The hotel was clean, cheap and with plenty of people attending the conference. One inch long Frankfurter sausages were the only hot things avaiable for breakfast on the cold mornings, but after an early run they went down very well with cheese and hot coffee! Also the tram into Prague was nearby so it was easy to get into the city.