Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category


March 11th, 2016 No comments

I am about to start a new Master Class in Banski Bystrica, Slovakia tomorrow. I have been reading so much on the human brain recently and on the plane out here I read a new book on ‘Neurosicence for learning and development’, by Kogan Page publishers. I enjoyed it as it added a little bit more to my extensive reading and understanding of ‘brain books’. The cognitive era is making a comeback, in a slightly different guise thanks to new hi-tech tools of brain scanning etc. It is the age of neuroscience, and everyone is making connections with how our human brains work.

Tomorrow however I will be exploring how our brains are linked to our bodily understanding as well as our cognitive functioning….the brain needs the sensory data, and the emotional data, and the knowledge content for example to enrich learning. We need to know, to do, to get, to have, to want and to feel. In evolutionary terms the brain is designed now to work with very complex data.

We want our children to learn to do and act (agency), to learn to be emotionally intelligent, to learn to know and to learn to think, and to learn to sense and observe the world with great skill. These things are needed for the good of our global society. These are the basic essentials of education. The higher order things are however much more difficult for educators and trainers to work with, and so often ignored. For the politicians who persistently meddle with educational ideologies merged with polical ideologies, there is much more to do. Working with the 3 Bs,  not just the 3Rs is where we ought to be exploring education for the future. The 3Bs are:  belonging, becoming and being. The 3 Bs are complex. The human need to belong to other humans and to the community, and the more-than-human global world is essential to our health and well-being, as is our need to become someone, and to be someone.

I met Poorna Malaveth in India last December: a so called ‘lower caste’ girl, who summitted Everest last year, she said she in a speech that she is not inferior to anyone.

I absolutely I agree with her: so who is it and what old ways of thinking block the future for this talented girl?

I am hoping to run a Master Class in Mumbai, India at the Magic Bus Centre in early September, and in China once again (after a spell of not working therefora while) in 2017. Watch out for news.

The Magic Bus Centre is doing remarkable work with young children and kids to develop a brighter future for them, in partnership with their education and they have worked with nearly 300,000 kids last year.




Asia Tour 2016

November 13th, 2015 No comments

If you are operating in Singapore or Malaysia and you are interested in developing an Experiential Learning one day or two day programme with me in the period of 13-28th August next year please do contact me for prices and outline programme details. The experiential learning courses in 2015 were a great success. These programmes are usually designed specifically for trainers and facilitators, however there is a bespoke programme on experiential learning and creative experiential assesment available for teachers and higher education lecturers. What we know about human learning is evolving fast and it is good to keep up to date with these developments. The programmes are high impact and great fun.



Experience Design

September 19th, 2015 No comments

Why am I so intereted in the subject of experience design?

I am currently writing an academic paper on the topic of experience design.

Significantly yesterday I finished delivering a team development day I had designed for a great organisation here in Hong Kong. Our theme was something different for these (very) environmentally aware people: it was based on tribes in the Amazonian Rainforest. We had face paints, tribal dress, dancing and story telling, tribal mergers, animal shrines, the honing of hunting skills (recycled wooden x-bows that fire ping pong balls made by a company set up by young people in Sheffield), visual acuity testing, solving problems, river rafting skills, cryptic clues, lots of collaboration and some competition all built into our day. It was great fun designing the day, underpinned by a lot of research. The design was informed by several books: The Tribe That Hides from Man; The Wizard of the Upper Amazon; Red Gold; Tree of Rivers and other great material. I feel a great sadness that all of the rainforest where I lived in a hammock forty years ago north of Manaus has now been completely detroyed.

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Now that brings me on to some other aspects of experience design by big organisations. In a text about the Disney Experience, Loeffler & Church (2015) illustrate the use of scientific knowledge, and in particular neuro-psychology, for the benefit of the Disney Corporation. The proactive human behaviour manipulation through experience design is evident by the remarks of these two authors: ‘Disney’s theme parks have emotion trickling through their every turn of the value proposition’. Loeffler & Church suggest that Disney works with four cognitive drivers to release the natural drugs of positive emotion that stimulate the human brain in reaction to an experience. The four natural drugs they say hook children into the experience are: Serotin, Oxytocin, Dopamine and Endorphin. Research into human behavioural psychology is now being extensively used in the corporate world.

Play, experience, and learn are the three stated components of a new Kidzania concept offering a real, scaled down shopping mall style of outlets, in a mini town where your kids can spend time and money on play and leisure, and they can even earn money by doing work at sponsored outlets. ‘Through each job activity, kids learn about how society functions, financial literacy, adult professions, teamwork, independence, self-esteem and real-life skills’. Here experiential learning educational principles appear at the heart of the Kidzania mission, combined however with a business philosophy seemingly concerned with the appropriation of childhood for investment and marketing interests! I do wonder where all this will lead the human race to! Much of the psychology used by companies to get people ‘hooked’ (the title of a new book by Eval, 2014) is based on an understanding of the unconscious mind, and in particular the basic human oppositional emotional states: notably pleasure seeking and pain avoidance, social acceptance or rejection (affiliation/belonging), and seeking hope or avoiding fear (Gross, 2001; Russell & Barchard, 2002). Damasio (2004) argues these oppositional states represent a continual human struggle for balance between flourishing and distress.

So for a rest from writing I went and sat ‘people watching’ over a coffee in the nearby shopping mall here….and the triggers set up to develop the habit of regularly checking our phones are evident all around, as is the addiction to spending hard earned money on shopping and eating! Zoologist Desmond Morris must have had fun writing his book ‘People Watching’……something which is quite cheap to do – it only cost me a coffee!




Asia Tour

August 28th, 2015 No comments

Phew. I have just finished the Experiential Master Class, then an HEI keynote at a learning and teaching conference, and a day of lecturer development – all in Singapore. I then flew to Kuala Lumpur and delivered more lecturer development programmes. Lots of experimenting with new materials and ideas. I already have a lot of organisations looking to book days for 2016: so it has all been worthwhile. Home now for a few days before returning to the ‘office’.  Kids, chickens and good old UK weather (unpredicatable). Log splitting therapy ready for the winter woodburners. Lots of academic papers to finish off, one on experience mapping, one on peer assisted learning, one on experiencing ‘luxury’, and one on problems of experiencing language. Hong Kong again soon, to deliver a team development event….with an interesting but secret theme…..!!! Different to the usual team days…..and then back to Malaysia in November for a keynote and some more experiential HE lecturer development work. New advanced communication material is going down well so far….


Reading books in a hammock

June 21st, 2015 2 comments

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 conviction 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……






News from the highest mountain in Hong Kong

June 21st, 2015 2 comments

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.




Experiential Learning Masterclass in Singapore

Experiential learning Aug 11 and 12
I will be conducting this exciting hands-on program on Aug 11 and 12 in Singapore. This programme will cover the very rich nature of experiential learning using a 6 dimensional model that includes looking at working in a whole person sense, exploring the specific roles of knowing, sensing, feeling, doing, belonging and being. The two day event will offer many new practical ideas for powerful learning and engagement for facilitators and trainers. The model, which can also be used as a diagnostic tool for training design, is the one I showcased in Singapore at the Ministry of Education Conference to an audience of 1000 teachers in 2014.
The costs for this 2 days master class is $280 and it includes the book written by Prof. Colin. Registration ends on the 5th of July.
Ebnu Etheris 
+65 6315 2587
+65 9747 1498
Do drop us an e-mail at

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.