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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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…..

http://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/ejAkepSIQSzbuBdd7yYQ/full

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!

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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.

 

 

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Humans in the Mist

April 27th, 2014 No comments

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One of the experiences I often encourage participants to try out is called ‘Coffee and Papers’ where people find a space to relax, then they read, then they come together to share readings and findings …..so here is someone occupying my hammock, on the edge of the forest up in the mountains in Hong Kong….chilling out and reading a paper called ‘Busy Doing Nothing’ by two Australian outdoor educationalists. The place where we are working is magic, and the mist cleared today so  I took a picture…yesterday I could only just see the place and thought of the title Humans in the Mist, to honour the women who have studied the great apes (see previous blogs). 

The person that invited me to work here (the CEO) was a friend who many years ago cycled around the world….his book is a great read……and he arrived back from the UK just as we had finished the course…..perfect and so great to see him after many years. DSC05012

On this course I have further developed and polished two new experiences: one called word weaving and the other called experience mapping. The former involves weaving through sets of words to create definitions, like sustainability, or feedback, or assertiveness. This was first tried with anaesthetists on a Masterclass on clinical feedback. The experience mapping involves gaining a deep understanding of participant experiences, so as to improve the experience diagnostic, design and delivery process (the 3Ds).

This trip to Hong Kong has also introduced me to a new drink…hazelnut coffee …delicious!

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Just A Dream?

April 25th, 2014 No comments

I spoke at an International Conference two years ago and another speaker suggested that the world should focus on two languages, namely Chinese and English. This troubled me. When there is dominance, there is the silencing of other voices. I stood up on the stage at question and answer time and suggested something more radical. My dream is as as follows: the body and the brain work together very well. We refer to it as embodied cognition.

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Before language, a pre-linguistic period (or indeed post kinetic), gestures were very important in communicating. With gesture based technologies (GBT) the body is making a return in the processes of human learning: we learn to swipe, draw out with our fingers, rotate information, enlarge etc. and this has 3d benefits too.

Speech comes out of the mouth one word at a time, and so it is limited as it is linear! Human speech struggles to describe feelings, complicated things, and movement for example. My thinking is that we learn to move into a new era as humans on the planet. As a first stage to a new evolution we might develop a univeral sign language so that we can all communicate, together, around the globe. Would that really be too difficult: after all we can get to the moon and back easily now!? On our course here at Kadoorie we are developing our own sign language…starting from just watching each other talking, observing the gestures……..and fomralising them into our new gesture based language!

Then we humans might also learn to return to our senses…….

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Up the hill in Sha Tin, Hong Kong

April 25th, 2014 No comments

So from going to work along a walkway above the forest of a site which was an old tin mine in Malaysia, and saying good morning to my friend the tiger each day before doing workshops for lecturers, I am now in Hong Kong. I have just met with the people I am going to work with over the next few days. The bungalow up in the mountains where we are going to do our workshop is lovely and it has a large green space outside. So I hope the tropical storms hold off tomorrow at least as the climate is less hot and sticky compared to KL. Jane Goodall has run workshops here in the Bungalow, and her book ‘In the Shadow of Man’ (1971) is one of my all time favourites. This famous story is about her study of chimpanzees in the Tanzanian forests. I would love to meet Jane Goodall. I was asked last week what was my favourite film …..and the earliest favourite was Born Free (Joy Adamson), then Enemy of the State, then Avatar!

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The place in Hong Kong is called Kadoorie Farm and Botanical Gardens (KFBG) – and it is amazing. Rescued endangered animals, a botanical paradise, lots of amazing butterflies, farming ideas & initiatives, such as experimental tea and coffe plantations, urban gardening, composting, and ……educational programmes that include a day in silence, workshops exploring mindfulness, and working with the sensory world of plants…..(now that is a workshop with attitude). I am really looking forward to learning and exploring over the next couple of days. I am going to do the facilitation with a theme of appreciative enquiry; appreciating the whole person six dimensions  namely working with the appreciation of our sense of belonging, doing/acting in the world, sensing/observing, feeling, knowing/thinking, and being.  The 2Bs are really challenging…..2B (or not 2B) now that is the really hard question!

I will let you know how we all get on……

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Old Tin Mine, Malaysia

April 20th, 2014 2 comments

I have jDSC04941ust finished delivering a corporate training Masterclass in Mid-Valley, Kuala Lumpur with Roger Greenaway -  a really good experience. There were some great people on our event – from Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. All of us were hungry to learn and try out new stuff. Brilliant! We had a break on the first day and went to a laser quest and divided into two teams to have a shoot out. I don’t normally go in for that kind of activity but I have to admit it was great fun…to hide out and ambush folks. I think I got shot the most though so I wouldn’t make a good soldier! My son Lewis was impressed I had been as he is a seasoned laser (party) goer. After the event I dropped in on one of the participants at their business shop – GAC Adventure – in a shopping mall in KL. I was amazed at all the outdoor gear they had in stock. I bought a really lightweight quick drying hammock for adventures in Patagonia later this year.

I am really enjoying Malaysian food here – it is so delicious. So much so I cant resist Malaysian spicy food for breakfast every now and then. I am hoping that the International Conference on Experiential Learning will consider Malaysia (for a superb location) after it has been held in the States in July next year.

I am also working with lecturers at a University in KL, delivering a special HE teaching and learning excellence programme. The picture here shows the location on an old tin mine. The site is now a complex mixutre of leisure activities, hotels, shoping malls (with ice skating facilities) and a university. There is a vortex water shute, bungee jumping, surfing with artificial waves, and a giant arial jungle walkway. 25,000 trees were planted on the site and it is now home to a considerable amount of wildlife that has moved in as the surrounding areas are developed. The tiny humming birds are beautiful.

Then I move on to work in Hong Kong. The Hong Kong connection is a friend who cycled around the world many years ago and I met him on the Masters in Outdoor Management Development which I designed with my outdoor colleagues in the University some years ago. What is amazing is that I discovered he and Roger also know each other well. It is a small world!DSC04968

I am reading a new book called ‘Looptail’ by Bruce Poon Tip, about his adventure company said to be the most successful adventure tourism company in the world. His employees were apparently given the title of Chief Experience Officers (C.E.O.s) – someone rang the company and asked to speak to the CEO…’which one?’ was the reply…..’how many have you got?’ said the caller…..’lots’ was the reply…clever!

The experience economy lives on! But what next after the experience economy?

 

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Doing a bit for the environment?

October 21st, 2013 No comments

The felling in our woodland (not really ours as it belongs to a landowner!) is starting again now with more rides and glades being slowly opened up. The wildlife is already improving from three years of active management. Some of the glades have lovely oak standards growing nicely in sunlit conditions. When timber is felled it is then then cut into manageable lengths and kept in the glade areas overwinter. Brashings are left to rot in piles for insects and fungi. Taking timber out in the depths of winter is risky as the ground is too wet sometimes even for a landrover. These trunk sections are stored in situ for a year then cut and removed from the woods when the ground conditions improve. The trunks then undergo another year of seasoning at home having first been split into small logs to get more surface exposed to the air (see the picture). Our aim is to develop a system of open glades and a circular ride of land rover width.

DSC04820My new mini allotment at home (of four raised beds) is now in place (we have only been in this house for two years and so we have had to start again with vegie patch, chickens, fruit trees, etc.), the chickens seem happy, and the log pile for the wood burner is starting to get piled up high for the winter of 2014/15! Two years from felling to burning  – that is what is required if the timber is to be seasoned well enough so as to not cause excessive soot and tar build up in the chimney. The advantage of seasoning wood well is that separate chopping of kindling is not required – why? Well the wood is so dry the bark falls off and bark is great kindling for starting the fire!

The chickens produce a lot of poo, and the soiled bedding and grass waste from the lawn and kitchen waste all go into my two compost bins….and eventually this makes a rich matter for the growing of my vegetables. The garlic has gone in now and my order is on its way for some new raspberry plants. The garden will then have apple, pear, walnut, and plum trees…….and the trellis will get put up this winter for my new blackberries…hard work but well worth it!

 

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Stolen Seeds?

September 4th, 2013 No comments

DSC04709 I have recently returned from working in Malaysia and Singapore. The train from the international airport to Kuala Lumpur city is extremely fast and relatively cheap and takes a mere 28 minutes. My work in Singapore was just for one (long) day and it was quite an experience flying down from Kuala Lumpur to Changi airport and back again. I was working with people who in turn work with youth at risk. Back in Kuala Lumpur the next day I ran taster sessions for corporate clients in the hope of booking a few places for a program next April 2014 I am delivering with my friend Dr. Roger Greenaway. I then went on to deliver a two-day staff development programme at Sunway University, one of Malaysia’s most successful private universities. The event was very well received and it is likely that I will be returning to do similar work next year. (see my university lecturer development download on the academic work page). This blog is especially for the person who picked me up each day, and took me to the University, and then returned me back to the hotel safe and sound at the end of each day. (Thank you for your great sense of humour and your entertainment in the car each day-I won’t mention the car that just missed us when we did that u turn!) She told me that she loved reading the blogs-so this is for you!

At the end of my week my good friend Yuen-Li, who is the owner of Nomad Adventure, took me out to her Earth Camp in Gopeng. There were many corporate clients staying there doing a team development programme and they were staying in very basic dormitories. I had the choice however of selecting any one of a number of treehouses. The treehouses were superb, built around old rubber trees from a now defunct small rubber plantation. Of course I selected the cleanest one, with the least amount of bat droppings though I was happy to share my accommodation with a bat or two! I spent the night keeping cool under a small fan dangling from a cable in the ceiling, and emerged in the morning with only one or two mosquito bites. The photo above is my view in the morning, from my bed. Later after breakfast I was taken to explore a fabulous cave, and high ropes structures at the Nomad Mountain Centre nearby. I was also due to go white water rafting but the raft numbers panned out so that there were no spaces left and so my friend asked me if I would kayak down the rapids. What an experience! Brilliant! But I was following a first-class kayaker who nimbly navigated her way between the rocks and seemed to glide smoothly down the course. I can still remember sitting in the kayak at the top of a waterfall with Yuen-Li saying ‘follow me down, but when you first drop-down you will have to take a quick left as there is a large boulder in the way!’ I was in an inflatable kayak which had less manoeuvrability but was probably well insulated against my mistakes! I thoroughly enjoyed the trip down only to falter on one of the rapids where there just happened to be several rafts floating about in the backwaters whilst everyone was taking a rest. Yes I capsized and I remember surfacing to a round of applause from the many spectators enjoying my error! I was paddling down some of the quieter stretches when I was shown some shiny material in the river and it was the very reason why the British took such an interest in Malaysia. It was Tin  – and the story has it that tin was first discovered when elephants that were washing in the river stood up and walked out onto the land with sparkling bodies strewn with shiny material that been deposited on their skin. The rubber plantations in Malaysia came later and believe it or not all consist of Brazilian stock. The reason for this is the 25,000 seeds were taken from the Amazon and shipped out to Singapore and Malaysia where they were grown successfully and resulted in rubber plantations which were much more economically harvested than the random natural forest trees in the jungles of Brazil.DSC04695

 

 

This was the very reason why the ‘white gold’ of Brazil went into decline. It’s hard to believe that in the same day I went from kayaking down grade three rapids to sitting in an aeroplane just before midnight, flying home. The Malaysia trip was a wonderful experience – though I was glad to be going home mostly because I love Malaysian food too much and if I had stayed longer I think I would put on a considerable amount of weight! I caught up with many good friends in Kuala Lumpur and I am looking forward to seeing you all again next year.

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Rubber trees on a plantation, being scarred and bled for raw unprocessed rubber. Nature was, and still is, the source of all our wealth – often we forget that all our possessions ultimately come from the raw materials of our earth, & nowhere else as far as I know!

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