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Language, Sensory Intelligence & Speech Recognition

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.


More Events in 2015

April 16th, 2015 No comments

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:

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 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.




Experiential Learning Master Class

February 24th, 2015 No comments

If you would like to join a Master Class on Experiential Learning in either

Singapore in August

Slovakia in October or IMG_6390

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.



Pioneers in Chile

January 29th, 2015 No comments

DSC05788We 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. DSC05721DSC05730 This area has the biggest population of Pumas in S. America. One took a lamb from this farm three days before.DSC05863

The scenery was amazing!


A million dollar experience!

January 9th, 2015 No comments

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.




Experiential Events for 2015

December 18th, 2014 2 comments

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……..


Return to Prague

December 9th, 2014 No comments

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. DSC05591

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.



Big Audiences

November 14th, 2014 No comments

Earlier this month in Singapore, on my 24th visit, I had the honour of working with Ministry of Education, delivering a keynote to over a thousand key personnel in secondary education. We used 5 big screens as you can see in the photos. I then provided workshops for selected participants. A long but rewarding day, looking at holistic learning and the development of co-curriculuar experience design.


The following day I delivered a lecturer development  session for staff at the East Asian Institute of Management, and we then went to the Singapore cricket club for a lovely dinner. I met with new and old friends whilst out in Singapore. I am looking to run an Experiential Learning Master Class in Singapore next August 2015, as I am also over in Malaysia working with a University and with corporate clients.

Work with British Glass is still ongoing and my education about glass continues! The Academy had a members meeting up in Sheffield this month. Glass is certainly much more recyclable than other material, and there are many new developments that will affect future applications of glass. The day with Cardiff Met University MBA went down well and I am hoping to go out with the students on a 72 Yacht in the Bristol estuary next time I am down there….now that would be exciting!  At the end of the month I am speaking in Prague at The International Mountaineering and Outdoor Sports Conference. I am giving a speech on the evolution of experiential learning then facilitating an experience mapping technique, using data from a ‘sleeep-out on the Streets’ project about developing awarenss of homelessness. The participant data was collected by an undergraduate Sheffield Hallam University student Will Russ. The last time I was in Prague was over fifteen years ago when I did some work for the British Council – it will be interesting to see how this very romantic and beautiful city it has changed.


Positive emotions: passionate scholarship and student transformation

June 30th, 2014 2 comments

There are now 49 free e-copies of my latest article published in Teaching in Higher Education on the subject of positive emotions and student transformation, courtesy of the publisher Taylor & Francis. They are on a first come first served basis. Simply click below and download…..

I believe that we are increasingly working towards a more holistic understanding of learning, and therefore of education. This means that teachers and lecturers are having to juggle with this complexity, namely we have to engage not only the student mind (knowing), but also their emotions (feelings), the actual design of the experience of the learning or education (sensing & doing something), and the two harder elements – the student sense of belonging (to people, community, country, places, natural world, spiritual) and their sense of being (learning to be, someone, a sense of indentity, presence, self, psyche, etc). For a copy of a two day sample lecturer development programme to cover these with innovative pedagogies please go to the academic page of this website.

Enjoy the article!


Faculty Inspirational Teaching Awards

June 27th, 2014 No comments

I was pleased to receive another Teaching Award this year, namely a Faculty Inspirational Teaching Award. The students here comment on good teachers and vote for staff. It is a good idea that we have been trying in our University now for a few years, along with other Awards. The students said:

1. How he looks at you as a student and try’s to motivate and get you thinking.

His innovationto get you working is key and gets me working.

2. His life and career has been so varied and incredible,I love hearing about what he has done

in his life as it has giving me such incredible ideas as to what I can do.

3. He has provided amazing support in terms of helping with not just his lesson work but other seminars as well and has such wide knowledge of every department. He’s fantastic. Most fascinating teacher who engaged me into the course.

4. A brilliant, inspiring and motivational teacher.

It is a good feeling to help and inspire others. ProfColinBeard This picture shows our Dean of Faculty (for Sheffield Business School) awarding the certificate.

I gave a tribute to my dad at his funeral this week: he was an inspirational teacher and the local paper did a full page on him at his retirement many years ago, and then the paper produced a recent ‘tribute’ to him, about his contribution to the profession. He helped and inspired so many people, and produced some top class football players also. Gary Stanley ex-Chelsea player was at the funeral and so were many other ex pupils from the school where he taught. I also found out that my dad played for Nottingham Forest at times whilst he was a student – I didnt know this!

Teaching and learning are in the blood, I guess?

I am hoping to deliver more higher education lecturer development programmes this year, and there are more planned for next June (2015|) in Malaysia annd elsewhere. I am also currently working with the Ministry of Education in Singapore on exciting co-curricular developments, and learning from experience……I will be travelling out to Singapore in October to deliver a keynote and a number of workshops. This will be my 23rd visit to Singapore, and I am really looking forward to seeing some of my friends out there.