Category Archives: experiential learning
Kathy described this mind map and I found it out in the wild. Collaborations can lead to interesting incidental paths. Kathy turned me on to Dr. Chris Seeley‘s view of the artful organization. She added her own very highest regard. The incidental informs the future process and relationship and collaboration and transforms into the coincidental. follow along
You can download The Artful Organization via the link for a pdf on this page.
I started playing Free Play Softball League in 2002. At the time, the game was co-ed to the magnitude of six female players, Alice, Laine, Angie, Amy, Linda, Mary. By 2009, the attrition of female players had reached its “negative zenith.” The game labored on and became more spiky, masculine, boyish, and, mildly less civilized. However, the boyish part reflects aging and regression, not an influx of many younger players.
This year it appears Free Play Softball League has developed two women players.
Skill is fine, and genius is splendid, but the right contacts are more valuable than either. (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)
I have no idea how they found their way to our game. East siders. I know Nicole played softball in high school. She and Mia are feisty, and I suspect both see right through the antics and legacy patterns of the recent league.
As a group, we had our most civilized season in many years. Just sayin’, (and suggesting something about the relationship between an increase in wholeness and courtesy.)
“For the mind of man is far from the nature of a clear and equal glass, wherein the beams of things should reflect according to their true incidence; nay, it is rather like an enchanted glass, full of superstition and imposture, if it be not delivered and reduced.” — Francis Bacon
Yuval Noah Harari, author of the glib but best-selling Sapiens and Homo Deus, reduces massive ideas with the efficiency of a clothes dryer fed a soaking wool sweater. For example, liberal humanism in his view simply erases all but the individual’s feeling and so it is literally for him the natural state of affairs that if something feels good one may just do it. He also asserts that, maybe, this is entirely to do to with implicitly ‘necessitarian’ algorithms.
The four panel valence differentiator of Boston Consulting Group fame, (or what I term the four square matrix,) and the circular cycle used to show both a linear course of change and a completed course of development, are both the main forms for schemas which I collect.
Here are a bunch of such schemas. My aim here is to create a temporary counterpoint.
The idea that what one has long held of a person is apt to stop one’s eyes and ears. —Marcel Proust
The self is a metaphor. We can decide to limit it to our skin, our person, our family, our organization, or our species. We can select its boundaries in objective reality As the systems theorists see it, our consciousness illuminates a small arc in the wider currents and loops of knowing that interconnect us. It is just as plausible to conceive of mind as coexistent with these larger circuits, the entire “pattern that connects,” as Bateson said. Do not think that to broaden the construct of self this way involves an eclipse of one’s distinctiveness. Do not think that you will lose your identity like a drop in the ocean merging into the oneness of Brahma. From the systems perspective this interaction, creating larger wholes and patterns, allows for and even requires diversity. You become more yourself. Integration and differentiation go hand in hand. From: ‘World as Lover, world as Self’ — Joanna Macy
Work. Keep digging your well.
Don’t think about getting off from work.
Water is there somewhere.
Submit to a daily practice.
Your loyalty to that
is a ring on the door.
Keep knocking, and the joy inside
will eventually open a window
and look out to see who’s there.
(Rumi, version by Coleman Barks)
I say we are obviously as nature around us is. So that is also how our music is. But then our music must also be as we are (if two magnitudes both equal a third . . .). But then from our nature alone can I deduce how our music is (bolder men would say “how the cosmos is”). Arnold Scho?nberg
When I began, I had a very weak voice although with some melodic quality. I did not feel at all in touch with my body.
Through the use of the various sound practices, I occasionally developed a vague sense of being enlivened and having more energy, but this sensation came and went. About one year after beginning, in a group musical practice, I experienced feeling as though sound were coming, not from my vocal box, from my a place in the middle of my chest, near the pulmonary center. At the same time, I heard a ringing sound above the musical notes. These, I later found, were called overtones. I also felt a warm, expanding feeling from the heart and a kind of emotional release of joy.
This condition came and went for another 6 months. Then I had another “heart-opening” experience, which was felt as both massive pain and release of tension around the heart; I cried uncontrollably and felt I was coming apart.
Following this, I began to use the primary sound/music practice of finding a note that resonated in the heart, and singing that note every day for 15-20 minutes, using various mantric sounds. At the end of about 8 months, I could always find my way to this sound. At the same time, any catches in my throat, voice or breath that came up I began to re-experience as inhibitions and old memories that prevented me from intoning a natural sound (that is, saying who I was). report of a client of Dr. Klotz; The Key in the Dark: Self and Soul Transformation in the Sufi Tradition Neil Douglas-Klotz
A Beethoven string-quartet is truly . . . a scraping of horses’ tails on cats’ bowels, and may be exhaustively described in such terms; but the application of this description in no way precludes the simultaneous applicability of an entirely different description. -William James
What we call music in our everyday language is only a miniature from that music or harmony of the whole universe which is working behind everything, and which is the source and origin of nature. It is because of this that the wise of all ages have considered music to be a sacred art. For in music the seer can see the picture of the whole universe. (Pir H.I. Khan)
Dave Kolb and I enjoyed the longest conversation we ever managed to conduct over the fifteen years we’ve been friends and something like, but not really exactly like, colleagues. Our shared interest is the experiential learning theory* he helped conceptualize in the late seventies. He is its principal conceptualizer over the past thirty-three years, a span that began with the publication of the cornerstone presentation of this theory, Experiential Learning, Experience As the Source of Learning and Development(revised 2015).
When Dave signed the copy of the revised edition he gave me, he named us fellow travelers. I like it. Our paths have crossed in conferences and symposia, in workshops and, especially on the softball field on Sundays in Cleveland Heights, at 10am. I encountered Dave and Alice Kolb, his wife and most essential collaborator, back in 2002 when I ventured out to thie softball field for the first time, believing at the time that I was going to assist a documentary filmmaker who wanted to make a short about the Free Play Softball League the Kolbs started as an experiment in open system and experiential learning on the old Adelbert quad.
Yet, the three hour dialog we built together this week was the longest sustained chewing session we ever attempted or accomplished. This moment was favored by dave and Alice being between book writing projects, or, otherwise freed from the usual bearing down of their research agenda. I know this from their presentation at the June conference, a presentation offloaded into a nicely organic collaborative discussion about several of their current interests.
In our dialog, after we covered sundry subjects of interest to aging men and softball teammates, we latched onto one of several subjects that interest me as an independent scholar an fellow traveler. As it turned out, this subject, where is the ongoing theory-making in experiential learning theory happening right now, had come up between Dave and Alice on their morning walk the day Dave and I settled into our chairs on his spacious front porch. After we noted that there aren’t many scholars besides the Kolbs that you can point to, we started to ideate together on shaping (just the beginning) of what the extension and further elaboration of experiential learning theory might grapple with.
This is a big subject. We touched on examples from our different interests that bend the theory-in-use a bit differently than the most secure current conception of the theory supposes is phenomenally the case. This is not a disruptive tangent to the theory because one of the enhancements of the theory would, were it to begin to be formulated, configure the theory to flex more to particular contexts. For example, my creative process does not align with the cyclical or spiral process of the current theory, rather it oscillates between concrete experience and (what I would term,) spontaneous revision, a quality of active experimentation.
We made our beginning in any case. It would be really fascinating to continue and especially to put the handful of inspired (by theory!) persons in our community or out there in the wild together, to do some chewing.
Nowadays, almost all the action in ELT is rooted to its use in consulting, pedagogical, and coaching practices. This usefulness has put evaluative and assessment tools close to the center of those activities. The biggest impact extensive new theory-making could have on current day practice would result from theorizing context-dependent, and therefor distinct differentiations according to context pressures, of the theory-in-practice. This could be given by, for example, idiographic or qualitative difference-making that is focused on particular situations and their particularities. Certainly, from the several ways I may contextualize my own practice as an experiential learning endeavor, I’m able to lightly suggest that enactive, or social cybernetic, or, negative-capable, or, neurophenomenological, or ecological, perspectives, each create different and cogent and positive pressures when these outlooks are used to describe particularities given in specific situations.
Dave and I have noted that the enactive perspective is very sharply appropriate to elaborating a bit more about the instantaneous presence involved in reacting in an embodied and learning ‘full’ way in response to being thrown a pitched ball while acting as a batter.
The triangle at the bottom of the ELT schema reflects a kind of liminal or boundary condition for holding theorization away from its being made practical. Theorizing is begun as an impractical matter.
*Kolb’s Experiential Learning Theory is a theory of learning, not a theory of learning-by-doing. It would pose itself as a meta-theory of learning-by-doing were learning-by-doing ever to be rigorously theorized.
(h/t to Mai P. Trinh for first entertaining my sense that ‘where are the theorists?’ was an interesting question.)
Here And Now
by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Here, in the heart of the world,
Here, in the noise and the din,
Here, where our spirits were hurled
To battle with sorrow and sin,
This is the place and the spot
For knowledge of infinite things;
This is the kingdom where Thought
Can conquer the prowess of kings.
Wait for no heavenly life,
Seek for no temple alone;
Here, in the midst of the strife,
Know what the sages have known.
See what the Perfect Ones saw-
God in the depth of each soul,
God as the light and the law,
God as beginning and goal.
Earth is one chamber of Heaven,
Death is no grander than birth.
Joy in the life that was given,
Strive for perfection on earth.
Here, in the turmoil and roar,
Show what it is to be calm;
Show how the spirit can soar
And bring back its healing and balm.
Stand not aloof nor apart,
Plunge in the thick of the fight.
There in the street and the mart,
That is the place to do right.
Not in some cloister or cave,
Not in some kingdom above,
Here, on this side of the grave,
Here, should we labor and love.
by William Butler Yeats
The intellect of man is forced to choose
perfection of the life, or of the work,
And if it take the second must refuse
A heavenly mansion, raging in the dark.
When all that story’s finished, what’s the news?
In luck or out the toil has left its mark:
That old perplexity an empty purse,
Or the day’s vanity, the night’s remorse.
by Robert William Service
If I could practice what I preach,
Of fellows there would few be finer;
If I were true to what I teach
My life would be a lot diviner.
If I would act the way I speak,
Of halo I might be a winner:
The spirit wills, the flesh is weak,–
I’m just a simple sinner.
Six days I stray,–on number seven
I try to be a little better,
And stake a tiny claim on Heaven
By clinging close to gospel letter.
My pew I occupy on Sunday,
And though I draw the line at snoring,
I must admit I long for Monday,
And find the sermon boring.
Although from godly grace I fall,
For sensed with sin my every act is,
‘Twere better not to preach at all,
Then I would have no need to practice.
So Sabbath day I’ll sneak away,
And though the Church grieve my defection,
In sunny woodland I will pray:
“God save us from Perfection!”
(source) In his 1997 article Thoughts on Visual Literacy, Philip Yenawine describes visual literacy as:
“…the ability to find meaning in imagery. It involves a set of skills ranging from simple identification (naming what one sees) to complex interpretation on contextual, metaphoric and philosophical levels. Many aspects of cognition are called upon, such as personal association, questioning, speculating, analyzing, fact-finding, and categorizing. Objective understanding is the premise of much of this literacy, but subjective and affective aspects of knowing are equally important.”
The three fundamental questions of Visual Thinking Strategy:
Abigail Housen and, later partnered with Yenawine, structure a theory of development around the experience of art. It has become popular as a basis for pedagogy in some schools, in many museums, and, as a foundational practice for art teachers and docents. (See: VTS Basic Manual: Learning To Think And Communicate Through Art; Housen, and Theory into Practice: The Visual Thinking Strategies, Yenawine. The latter article is available at VTShome.
VTS is very close to being in alignment with my own artmaking ethos, except it is missing the body. The body in this case is the viewing subject.
Here are four questions that could restore the body in the process of aesthetic inquiry:
(1) What do your findings feel like as emotions?
(2) What do your findings feel like in your body?
(3) Characterize your sense of your own experience?
(4) What are you doing to understand your experience?
A leading moral and political philosopher, Kwame Anthony Appiah is Professor of Philosophy and Law at New York University. He explores the ideas of the philosopher Hans Vahinger, who argued that our theories of the world involved understanding things “as if” what is in fact false were true.
I had begun this article with reference to Hans Vaihinger’s examination of the two simple words, as-if, which he posits as a fictive device. Until I read his book I was completely unaware that I used them in daily life. Once I did, I couldn’t get as-if out of my mind. Not only that, I found it was fascinating to observe how other people used these words. When I asked if they were aware of the fact, invariably the answer was no. Nevertheless, once they did, they were delighted at finding a treasure right under their noses. From these observations I gathered that the various ways we employ as-if reflects a desire to step outside the routine of daily life, the easiest way being to entertain fanciful thoughts. Such thoughts aren’t to be dismissed outright as a waste of time. If we were asked about them, we’d respond that they constitute an important part of our lives, indeed, are essential to our psychic health. At the same time these thoughts have basis in reality–they arise from experiences in real life–and can reflect our deepest desires. excerpt Some Reflections on Hans Vaihinger (Richard McCambley)
Opening Day, Free Play Softball League 2017, first game in the age of Trumpism. It was a closely contested game if you forget the results of the first and last inning.
This season we’re hoping to attract new players to our league that is ideally described by elder Tom: “It’s a game that people of any skill level can come and play in and learn how to play.”
I convened some of our elders to find out if it growing the game was doable. Oh, and I suggested we’d have to dial back the game’s sometimes fractious, and, at times overly competitive atmosphere. We devised a series of guidances, responses, and contingent interventions, for the sake of recovering the founding ethos of our pick-up game, a game that aspired to be inviting to any gender, and any age between 16 and 96.
What Gurdjieff calls ‘Objective science’ uses the musical analogy to depict a universe composed of a chain of energies that stretches from the lowest octave to the highest: each energy is transformed as it rises and falls, taking on a coarser or finer nature according to its place in the scale. At each specific level, an energy corresponds to a degree of intelligence, and it is consciousness itself, fluctuating within a wide range of vibrations, that determines human experience. (Peter Brook, in notes to his play, Gurdjieff)
The shuttling to and fro of arguments and affects represents the transcendent function of opposites. The confrontation of the two positions generates a tension charged with energy and creates a living, third thing—not a logical stillbirth in accordance with the principle tertium non datur but a movement out of the suspension between the opposites, a living birth that leads to a new level of being, a new situation. (C.G.Jung)
On the Importance of Numinous Experience in the Alchemy of Individuation Murray Stein, Ph.D.
Monday, February 13, I was driving to Wadsworth, listening to a CD, thinking about my livelihood as an artist–such as it is–and a tune started up from my single most favored rock record of all time, The Gilded Palace of Sin, by The Flying Burrito Brothers.
The song was Wheels.
We’ve all got wheels to take ourselves away
We’ve got the telephones to say what we can’t say
We all got higher and higher every day
Come on wheels take this boy away
We’re not afraid to ride
We’re not afraid to die come on wheels take me home today
So come on wheels take this boy away
And when I feel my time is almost up
And destiny is in my right hand
I’ll turn to him who made my faith so strong
Come on wheels make this boy a man
We’re not afraid to ride
We’re not afraid to die come on wheels take me home today
So come on wheels take this boy away
Come on wheels take this boy away
The record was released February 11, 1969. I would hear it for the first time at the Amazing Dynamo Man’s house, draped over his bed, in September 1970. He, Jamie Cohen, and I, had just met, just begun tenth grade as first year sophomores at Hawken School in Cleveland. We fell into each other like rain drops into the ocean.
Forty eight years later, I’m reflecting on art matters having to do with commerce, Wheels comes on, I glance out my car’s driver-side window, and see a flatbed truck passing me on I71.
It’s badged with this logo:
I chuckle, then laugh heartily. The moment was not just a gilded moment of synchronicity, it was a text book synchronicity!
“We put thirty spokes together and call it a wheel; But it is on the space where there is nothing that the utility of the wheel depends. We turn clay to make a vessel; But it is on the space where there is nothing that the utility of the vessel depends. We pierce doors and windows to make a house; And it is on these spaces where there is nothing that the utility of the house depends. Therefore just as we take advantage of what is, we should recognize the utility of what is not.” ? C.G. Jung, Synchronicity: An Acausal Connecting Principle
A synchronicity worthy of the term is required to be deeply disturbing, or deeply disruptive, or deeply derailing. What I have to offer are my happy delusions! I’ve been revisiting Kabir. #326 of his Bijak:
No customers for the word:
the price is high.
Without paying you can’t get it,
so move on by.
In January I had a very simple dream–simple as far as its arc.
(1) I’m on the side porch of a gothic church. It’s a fall day, and the church’s porch is the scene of a rummage sale. I’m picking little costume jewelry pieces up and putting each one back down. I notice some nice oak chairs and old brass floor lamps. I say to the lady, “You have some nice stuff.” She answers back, “I see you’re not in a buying mood, but the prices are right.”
(2) Walking down the steps, with the front of the church rising to my right, I cross a lawn and walk toward an old Chevy station wagon. I walk to the driver’s side and their is a man with a hat, and his wife is to his right, and his son and daughter are in the back seat. The rear has suitcases. I think to myself, ‘It’s an all American family.’ The man asks if I will help him get unstuck. I put my shoulder to the frame of his window to push, and, without much effort I push and feel his car rise a bit and become unstuck.
(3) The car gathers speed and then veers slightly across the front lawn of the church. It crashes into the wall of the sanctuary. I run toward it, but am halted when I see a bloodied brown panther or mountain lion, seemingly crushed between the grill and limestone wall, pull itself out of its predicament and jump over the hood. It stands on the grass and shakes its head once vertically, runs off.
My favorite track from my favorite record.
I traced a circle on the ground,
It was a mystic figure strange
Wherein I thought there would abound
Mute symbols adequate of change,
And complex formulas of Law,
Which is the jaws of Change’s maw.
My simpler thoughts in vain had stemmed
The current of this madness free,
But that my thinking is condemned
To symbol and analogy:
I deemed a circle might condense
With calm all mystery’s violence.
And so in cabalistic mood
A circle traced I curious there;
Imperfect the made circle stood
Thought formed with minutest care.
From magic’s failure deeply I
A lesson took to make me sigh.
Alexander Search (Fernando Pessoa)
July 30th. 1907. 
“I have always been particularly interested to see how people, if left to their own devices and not informed about the history of the [Mandala] symbol, would interpret it to themselves. I was careful, therefore, not to disturb them with my own opinions and as a rule I discovered that people took it to symbolize themselves or rather some- thing in themselves. They left it as belonging intimately to themselves as a sort of Creative background, a life-producing sun in the depths of the unconscious mind. Though it was easy to see that it was often almost a replica of Ezekiel’s vision, it was very rare that people recognized the analogy, even when they knew the vision -which knowledge, by the way, is pretty rare nowadays.” C.G. Jung, The Terry Lectures
Gemini with respect to psyche, broadly conceived, brings into ‘co-motion’ the regressive chthonic and the transgressive totality. At a higher, finer grain, the twin–as image–represents the prospect of the alchemical marriage. As Gemini, its transformative operations take up scattered elements and brings these back into order.
The Twin is the archetype of recursion. With this repetition, the twin holds the potential for any reassembly, be it playful or serious or trial-and-error. The gesture bends back. Its sound is the yielding reassembly of harmony, via sonic palintropos.
Overnight contents separate, and come to be stirred back together. Gemini.
What gets hatched at night, in the lunar phase?
Sometimes the organic pair is subject to fierce moralizing. For example, what of the facile distinction oft made between thinking and feeling, or, head and heart? Their deep structure is blanketed. Heavy associations weigh one of the poles down, like a cinder block tied to a victim’s ankles.
This is like mashing two things together, pulling them back apart, and, finally deciding one has to go! The shadow of the twin is found in the demonization and suppression of the organic opposite, in the making of, and, next, sanctioning against this fallen angel, and finally turning it out (or away.)
(Gemini forensics! Where is the antimony buried?)
A theory of recurrence, such as that of Yeats, in exemplifying the cycling between lunar Antithetical and solar Primary tinctures is a twin study. Fusion with the ideal, and disavowal of the organic opposite provides for the violent dismissal and covering over of this other side.
Where feeling reigns ‘apart,’ this may move vast numbers of voters toward the light cast by the idealized father, concretized to be, well. . .
Leaving, returning. Turning back. . .
Uncovering bends back the cover.
They do not understand how, though at variance with itself, it agrees with itself. It is a backwards-turning attunement like that of the bow and lyre. -Heraclitus
It lifts up the buried: part, aspect, inferior. The twin is at once separate and a unifier.
Gemini’s hidden holistic relationship to all the houses, tracks the pairings which are the relations discoverable in all projections. Cast from to you.
The phenomena of the twin anchors the resurrection and recovery of the opposites.
The Rhizome and the Flower: The Perennial Philosophy, Yeats and Jung, By James Olney
The Harmonia of Bow and Lyre in Heraclitus Fr. 51 (DK)
Jane McIntosh Snyder, Phronesis Vol. 29, No. 1 (1984) JSTOR
 Sacred Geometry of Being: Pessoa’s Esoteric Imagery and the Geometry of Modernism
Patrícia Silva McNeill, Pessoa Plural 6, 2014 (pdf)
 Beyond Fascism: W.B. Yeats’s A Vision and the Complexities of His Authoritarian Politics
Justin Abel, Eastern Washington University (pdf)