Category Archives: AEPL

AEPL Summer Conference 2009

The Believing Game as a Model for Thinking

YMCA of the Rockies, Estes Park, Colorado

July 30–August 1, 2009

Conference Flier (Right Click to Download)

Click Here to Register


The purpose of this conference is to explore the believing game, which Peter Elbow also calls “methodological believing,” as a way to think more clearly.

We contrast the believing game with the “doubting game” — being skeptical, questioning, criticizing all ideas in order to uncover hidden flaws—which has come to dominate our culture’s conception of good thinking. The believing game challenges the monopoly of this skeptical tradition: it represents the ability to enter into all ideas in order to uncover hidden virtues. It asks us not just to listen to all views that differ from our own and hold back from arguing with them; not just to restate them without bias (as Carl Rogers advocated); but actually to try to believe them. Believing and doubting are both necessary tools or methodologies for scrutinizing and testing ideas, but “believing” is a refreshing and underused method that can enhance our lives as well as our ideas, and that provides a powerful means of developing our thinking.

We will gather in the beautiful Colorado mountains to interact with Peter Elbow and with each other. After Elbow’s introductory plenary, he will participate in two other plenaries designed to collect and explore the richness of perspectives that you as conference registrants bring with you. Our goal is to provide a venue for each of you to enrich and deepen your understanding of the believing game and its possibilities.


Automatic Alerts When AEPL Members Post to the Blog

Several features have been added to the AEPL blog page so that members can be alerted when a post has been published or a comment has been submitted to a post.

If you wish to add an RSS feed to your browser or home page, use the buttons on the right side of the blog page that look like this:

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These services are fairly easy to set up. If you have any questions, feel free to email the blog administrator.

Sunday, July 20, Conference Call

Greetings to you all!

This is to remind you that we will resume our conference calls tomorrow, Sunday, at the usual time, 9 pm Eastern, 6 Pacific.

Julie Nichols, Professor of English at Utah Valley State College, will be leading our discussion. To call in, dial 218-936-6666 and use code 9936250#.

I’m hoping to schedule a call for next week, the 27th, on the two recent conferences that some of us attended, on Democratic Education in Troy, NY in late June, and on Nonviolent Education (organized by Michael Nagler) in Berkeley this past weekend.

I won’t be able to make another call on Sunday for several weeks after that, due to travel plans. DO feel free to use this blog to keep up the conversation! Contact Betsy DeGeorge: if you have questions about posting or commenting. And be sure to see the absolutely terrific and extensive montage of photos with musical accompaniment that Richard Ressman (Gabriele Rico’s husband) posted on our website (the full address is on Betsy’s email from yesterday). It was truly wonderful to see all those faces and sights and dances again!

Hope they’re matched with voices on the call tomorrow!


Welcome to the AEPL Blog

We have invited AEPL members to join in this positive blogging dialogue.

If you wish to participate, contact the blog administrator, Betsy DeGeorge at

I Love the World: Boomdeyada

Greetings All,

For those who havn’t seen this yet, here’s a wonderful 1 minute video
that instantiates some of our discussions…..awareness, embracing, etc.
I’m incorporating it into my Wisdom Therapy work and my teaching.



Conference Call Sunday, June 22

Hi, everyone!

On last week’s conference call, we talked about the diversity of folks at the conference, about the challenges of taking the work of the conference back into the “real” world, and also all agreed that it would be good to continue our community by offering the next series of conference calls to the leaders of the concurrent sessions at the conference, so that more can have a sense of the richness and diversity of the content there.

To that end, I’ve asked Grace Feuerverger to lead the next call, which will be on Sunday at 1 pm Eastern, 10am Pacific. 218-936-6666 code 9936250#. You might want to check out Grace’s two books Teaching, Learning, and Other Miracles (foreword by Bill Ayers, blurbs by Maxine Greene and Richard Rodriguez) and Oasis of Dreams (about an Israeli-Palestinian joint community). Sorry for the short notice, but this is the only time Grace is available before the 4th of July.

We will try to schedule another call next Sunday. Let me know if you’re interested in leading one of these in the future.

Hope to talk to many of you on Sunday!


Biographies of Conference Presenters and Participants

Biographies of Conference Presenters and Participants

Anne Adams:
Anne has designed and led seminars, workshops and educational programs for professional groups, individuals, corporations and educational institutions for more than 30 years.

She has been a teacher, school director, university instructor, a manager in an international educational corporation, and a business consultant to both large and small corporations. She received her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees from the University of Michigan in Clinical and Educational Psychology, and her PhD in Transformational Learning and Change from The California Institute of Integral Studies, San Francisco, California.

Her company, ACS, provides consulting in organizational transformation to all people in companies and educational institutions, specializing in large-scale cultural transformation and change, communication skills, team collaboration, integral leadership development, coaching and individually designed programs.

Anne has worked with many Fortune 50 companies, nationally and internationally. Her commitment is to have people create exciting, compelling futures and together bring those futures into reality. ACS educates clients in what it takes to achieve breakthrough results.

Dave Arbogast:
Dave is an English Specialist for Loudoun County, Virginia Public Schools. He taught high school and college English for 26 years. He is a member of the Northern Virginia Writing Project and is a regular meditator.

Michele Blumberg:
Michele has been an educator and educational consultant for 30 years. She is currently on the faculty of Global Village School and also teaches in the MA in Contemplative Education program at Naropa University. She also serves as curriculum designer and consultant to Jewish Family Service, Parenting and Youth Services. She is one of the creators of StoryValues, a program of character education for schools.

Cristy Bruns:
Cristy’s twenty years of teaching has taken her from employment training for welfare recipients to college English courses, currently at Chapman University in Orange, CA. She recently completed a Ph. D. in English and education at UC-Santa Barbara under Sheridan Blau, with a dissertation entitled, Why Literature? The Value of Literary Reading and Its Implications for Pedagogy.

Lorraine Lum Calbow and
Lynn Ann Wojciechowicz:
Sharing Wisdom Through the Oral Tradition: The Storytelling Circle
Lorraine Lum Calbow—Counseling & Storytelling Faculty Emeritus of South Mountain Community College
LynnAnn Wojciechowicz—Storytelling & Humanities Faculty, Director of the South Mountain Community College Storytelling Institute

In a storytelling circle format, participants will share a story from their own lives, or a parable or folktale that captures the wisdom from within. After the stories are told, participants will discuss universal themes that apply to the following conference questions: How might the education of teachers, at all levels, be designed to evoke wisdom? How can the understanding of wise teaching and learning be extended beyond schooling?

Brent Cameron:
Brent is working on a Ph.D. in an attempt to explain the amazing discoveries in human learning in programs in Vancouver BC Canada over 25 years. The program he began for his daughter has grown to over 1000 learners and has won numerous national awards. It is recognized as a new paradigm for learning beyond schooling and is based on epistemology and love. The book SelfDesign: Nurturing Genius through Natural Learning was published 2006.

Epistemology of Wisdom

Returning to the place we never leave and knowing that place for the first time is the hero’s journey. It is a human journey in learning where everything learned takes us further from our truth. Unlearning is the second part of a journey in the rediscovery of the obvious, which is essential to our transformation into the fourth and final stage of human development. After 25 years working with children and families free to learn who we are and free to discover our purpose here as human beings, we have discovered some insights into the epistemology of being human.

Sally Carless:
Sally is the founding director of Global Village School, an international K-12 homeschool diploma program focused on peace, justice, diversity, and sustainability. Passionately committed to a vision of a more just and peaceful world, Sally believes that education is a key component of progressive social change.

Bradley Comann:
Bradley says: I have taught writing for over 25 years at community colleges, Penn State-Erie, and now at UC Santa Barbara. I have a pedagogical interest in the intersection of Buddhist philosophy, composition theory, and the art of the essay as found primarily in Creative Non-fiction. But, in addition, some recent insights from sports psychology have come to me as a source of wisdom in the classroom.

John Creger:
Soon to begin a 21st year observing his sophomores at American High School in Fremont CA, teacher-researcher John Creger believes they have helped him stumble on a model of learning that will guide the renewing of purpose in the American high school–from the demoralizing pursuit of industrial production targets to the satisfying cultivation of skilled souls.

James S. Davis
Born and raised in the southwest Missouri Ozark Mountains, Jim Davis began teaching high school English in 1966. Following graduate work at the University of Arkansas and at the University of Missouri, he joined a regional agency in Cedar Rapids, Iowa in 1973 as a Language Arts consultant. Co-founder and director of the Iowa Writing Project since 1978, he has also served as a school improvement consultant for the New Iowa Schools Development Corporation. Major professional involvements have included the Missouri Association and Iowa Council of Teachers of English; NCTE, specifically the Conference on English Education, the Commission on Composition, and the Russell Award Committee, among others; and numerous consultancies. He “retired” in 2003 to join the faculty in the English Department at the University of Northern Iowa, where IWP simultaneously relocated.

Michael S. Katz:
Michael S. Katz, a Professor of Philosophy and Education at San Jose State University, teaches courses in moral issues and philosophy of education; currently past President of the North American Philosophy of Education Society,he does scholarly work on the “ethics of teaching.” He received his B.A. in English literature from Amherst College (1966) and his Ph.D. from Stanford University (1974)

Theo Koffler:
In 2007, Theo Koffler founded Bewteen4Eyes, a San Francisco-based non-profit that brings practical mindfulness techniques to human service providers (and the populations they serve) in conflict and post-conflict communities in Africa and the Middle East. Between Four Eyes is based on the premise that one of the best ways to break cycles of mutual hatred, anger and fear is to create a domain where mastery of one’s emotions and behavior is reclaimed in order that cultural biases dissolve, and hearts and minds flourish. Our workshops offer processed-based curriculum that addresses skills to nurture one’s wholeness, while exploring how to care for oneself and others with compassion. Its innovative educational strategy is secular and draws on tested approaches and theories, including social and emotional intelligence, human and cognitive behavior, social psychology and attention training.

Contact information:
Theo Koffler
415 488-7155

Mary Leonard:
Mary is a literacy coach at Ulster County Boces in New Paltz, New York where she tries to foster teaching from the heart, soul, mind and body. She has published two chapbooks of poetry: Twenty-first Century Flint and A Girl.

David Marshak:
Education for the Evolution of Consciousness: The Evolution of Integral Consciousness

The spiral dynamics developmental model, created by Clare Graves and carried forward by Don Beck, Christopher Cowan, Ken Wilber, Steve McIntosh, and others, helps us to understand the global challenges of our time and gives us insight about how education can embrace integral consciousness as its outcome goal for young adults.

The insights of Rudolf Steiner, Sri Aurobindo, and Hazrat Inayat Khan along with Maria Montessori, James Hillman, and others inform us about how we can promote the development of integral consciousness by young adults through an education founded on each soul’s own expression, defined behaviorally as appropriate freedom within appropriate boundaries.

Integral consciousness is wisdom. It’s not so much “reclaiming” though as the potential for democratizing access to wisdom for the first time in known human history and making it available not only to special “wise men/women” but to hundreds of thousands or even millions of young people all over the planet.

Activities: Two short presentations; small group conversations; and a whole group discussion in Socratic seminar format

Address the conference theme: I don’t agree with the description of history stated in the conference theme. Public education did not exist prior to the Enlightenment, so it has never manifested “the evocation of wisdom in the human person” as its central aim. Public education—better to call it “schooling”—is a modernist form, so inevitably it furthers modernist ambitions.

Prior to the Enlightenment very few people were educated by institutional functions, and those who were so engaged mostly were in the service of a particular church. So I don’t see any eclipse. Rather it never was. The task is not “reclaiming the wisdom tradition;” rather it is claiming wisdom—or to use my preferred phrase, integral consciousness—as the purpose of education.

This is a brand new idea. It’s not that we did not have wise people in the past, but rather that wisdom for the most part did not result from education provided by an institution.

In working on this task, we need to use the many powerful tools of post-modern consciousness to deconstruct schooling and the fertile and powerful tools of integral consciousness to replace the broke-down mess with new, far more organic, and developmentally-aligned (or, as I’d say, aligned with unfoldment) forms of education.

So I address the conference theme by engaging it in a lovely argument.

Carlo Monsanto:
Carlo is from the Caribbean Integral Institute (Curacao, Netherlands Antilles)
Carlo’s presentation: Awaken YourSelf: Dis-cover the dynamics of ‘Inner Response Dialogue’ for Integral Awareness.

In our ACM Living Awareness programme the process of learning is described from the growing awareness of the learner, his/her individual capacity of dynamic self-organization and self-learning and how this can be seriously limited by the so-called ‘Inner Response Dialog’ or IRD. The ‘Inner Response Dialog’ is defined as a filter that consists of patterns of traumas and called-up pathogenic responses that mostly act from subconscious levels of experience. By making the IRD visible and transparent through ACM Dia-Gnosis, in time the barriers imposed by these subconscious responses disappear.
The learner is firstly assisted in an awakening to his/her own capacity of dynamic self-organization and inner navigation; and alignment with his/her true inner purpose that is connected with the emergent Self. Based on the aforementioned the learner then starts creating new states of integrated awareness. Apart from this holistic diagnosis the ACM Living Awareness programme offers a wisdom tradition based (nonlinear dynamic) theoretical framework that assists learners in seeing an interconnected reality. At the same time learners are offered a series of health and contemplative practices to make this growing integrated awareness essentially continuous.

Julie Nichols:
Julie is currently assistant professor of English at Utah Valley
University (Orem, Utah), taught creative writing and writing-as-therapy
1975-1995. From 1996-2002 she studied and co-authored two books about Integrated Awareness (TM), a hands-on healing modality, with founder Lansing Gresham. She and husband Jeff have four children and five grandchildren

Michael Olin-Hitt:
Michael is Professor of English at Mount Union College—a liberal-arts college in Alliance, Oho—where he teaches Fiction Writing, American Literature, Native American Literature and Wisdom Literature. He has recently published the spiritual memoir, The Word of God Upon My Lips: A Christian’s Journey into Prophecy. In this book, Michael reveals that the mystical awareness usually understood as deep-trance channeling has been known since the dawn of human consciousness by shamans, oracles, prophets and other mystics. For him, the most fitting way to understand his trance state is in the Judo-Christian tradition of wisdom prophecy.

Helen Papoulis:
Helen teaches kindergarten in a bilingual (Spanish/English) classroom in San Francisco. She is also a practicing acupuncturist.

Mary Papoulis:
Mary plays violin in the Cascade Quartet in Great Falls, Montana. She also plays in the Great Falls Symphony Orchestra, and works with private students.

Nan Phifer
Author, Memoirs of the Soul
Oregon Writing Project
University of Oregon

Gabriele Rico:
Author of the best-selling Writing the Natural Way and Creating Re-Creations: Inspiration from the Source, co-author of textbooks, including Discovering Literature. On Advisory Board of New Moon’s website to provide creative activities for girls 8-12 years. Her translations of contemporary poems, entitled The Root Hunger for Angels, bring her back to her first language.;

Unutterable invisible
alternate realities
dot our inner landscape. Rainer Maria Rilke

The essence of Wisdom is knowing and not knowing simultaneously. Wisdom requires activation of empathy, altruism, intentionality, all of which, new research shows, are generated in the pre-frontal cortex behind our foreheads (the third eye). The PFC leads to a bridging between material and spiritual realms This part of the human brain, which has doubled in size over the last million years, is the last to mature, the first to be compromised in dementia. We will explore role of the PFC’s time-awareness in assessing the consequences of our actions as well as the negatives in intensified future-consciousness at the expense of wisdom traditions. And perhaps we will have time for an intuitive, creative writing activity to tap into the “inner landscape” Rilke speaks of.

Shani Robins:
Saturday: Wisdom Therapy: Learning, Integrating, and Applying Mindfulness Meditation, Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, and Humility Training.

Wisdom Therapy is an integrated training that aims to facilitate the multiple Western and Eastern dimensions of wisdom, including the cognitive, behavioral, physiological, social, environmental, and spiritual dimensions and to do so with lightness and humor. Wisdom Therapy includes mindfulness meditation, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and Humility training. It aims to facilitate the development of wisdom that tends to develop over the longer periods of the lifespan. This workshop will include Mindfulness Meditation, short humility inducing visual illusions, videos on the grand scale of events, and experiential Cognitive-Behavioral role playing

Sunday: Wisdom Therapy Applied: Reducing the Cognitive Distortions, Fear, and Anger of the Ego While Transcending that Ego

Wisdom Therapy applies Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, Mindfulness Meditation, and Humility in an effort to decrease anger, fear, and self-centeredness and increase well-being, mindfulness, humility, and compassion. This workshop will review the conceptual constructs of Wisdom Therapy but will emphasize it’s applications to anger and anxiety in everyday life, work, and clinical settings.

Shani Robins, PhD, is an Assistant Professor at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, in Palo Alto, California, and an Instructor at Stanford University and U.C. Berkeley. He completed his B.A. in Psychology and Philosophy from UCLA in 1989, his M.A. and Ph.D. in Cognitive Experimental Psychology from U.C. Santa Barbara in 1996. He is a licensed psychologist, the author of numerous scientific journal articles and book chapters and pioneered the field of Wisdom Therapy (

Jody Swilky:
Jody is a Professor of English at Drake University who specializes in the teaching of writing and courses concerned with multicultural studies. He has published articles on issues pertinent to multicultural education, the teaching of writing, and the politics of schooling. For the past two years he has worked on imagining, writing and revising the documentary, A Little Salsa of the Prairie: The Changing Character of Perry, Iowa.

Theodore Timpson
President, Young Spirit Foundation

Theodore (M.S., Bank Street College of Education) has taught at many grade levels in alternative educational settings that specifically address the whole child. Young Spirit Foundation is bringing together parents, teachers, and faith leaders to recognize, understand, and support the inner experience of children in schools.

Nichola Torbett:
Nichola has been writing and thinking about the intersection of love, meaning, and politics for almost twenty years. Helping to coordinate Representative Dennis Kucinich’s presidential campaign in 2004 convinced her that 1) so many Americans want a more compassionate culture rooted in open-heartedness rather than domination, and 2) many of those Americans are afraid to stand up for that “unrealistic” desire in the absence of evidence that there are many others who want the same thing. She is committed to building networks in education, law, and other professions as a powerful way for Americans to demonstrate to each other that they are interested in more than looking out for themselves and that they are willing to challenge cultural messages aimed at generating fear and instead develop practices within their professions to foster compassion, kindness, empathy, and awe and wonder at the grandeur of creation.

Nichola has degrees from the University of Toledo and Indiana University at Bloomington. She got her professional start in educational publishing, trying to use textbooks and educational materials as a mechanism for inspiring compassion. She has read widely in cultural studies, theology, and psychology and brings the insights from that reading to her organizing efforts.

Nichola Torbett
Director of National Programs
Network of Spiritual Progressives

Joonna Smitherman Trapp:
Joonna says: I’m a native of Texas, West Texas, which has its own version of wisdom, a kind of gritty folk wisdom that moves slowly and unevenly like a sidewider snake in the sand. I teach at a small college in Iowa with religious ties, and surprisingly, wisdom doesn’t come up as a topic much except for prayer for individual wisdom, which I take to mean “discernment.” I’m currently heading up my college’s reevaluation of general education, and I think wisdom needs to be a part of that discussion–I’m hoping this conference will move us in that direction. I’m a historian of rhetoric and a 19th century Americanist. I also teach spiritual writing and film. My research specialities most often find expression in oratory as literature and the American gothic tradition. I’ve been a part of AEPL for two years now.

Lynn Ann Wojciechowicz: See Lorraine Calbow

May 11 Conference Call

Next week, May 11, will feature conference participant Tom Gage, who is an Islamist as well as a teacher of teachers of English, along with Yetkin Yildirim of the Gulen Foundation which works, as I understand it, to advance spiritual, nonviolent education in the Islamic world. We may have other speakers as well to participate in this cosmopolitan conversation about the substantial large-scale forces already working in the world to bring about wholesale educational transformation toward wisdom.

The procedure is simply to dial 218-936-6666, follow the prompts, and then enter the code 9936250#. The call will last about 90 minutes, if we can contain the enthusiasm to that!

Conference Call May 4

Hi, everyone!

We resume our calls tomorrow with a very exciting reunion: the first time the three founders of the Assembly for Expanded Perspectives on Learning of the National Council of Teachers of English (the sponsoring organization of the conference) have been in vocal touch for over a decade. Dick Graves, Alice Brand, and Charlie Suhor (the last of whom many of you have gotten to know through these calls) will talk about how this organization came to be and the place it has served in the lives of many over the years. I hope you’ll come to see that we have served as a kind of mobile, professional ashram, a vehicle and sacred space for wisdom much like those of the traditions we studied in Armstrong’s The Great Transformation. I hope we can get a great number of you on the call.

The procedure is simply to dial 218-936-6666, follow the prompts, and then enter the code 9936250#. The call will last about 90 minutes, if we can contain the enthusiasm to that!

Next week will feature conference participant Tom Gage, who is an Islamist as well as a teacher of teachers of English, along with Yetkin Yildirim of the Gulen Foundation which works, as I understand it, to advance spiritual, nonviolent education in the Islamic world. We may have other speakers as well to participate in this cosmopolitan conversation about the substantial large-scale forces already working in the world to bring about wholesale educational transformation toward wisdom.

We’ll also try to reschedule the call with Svi Shapiro, if he’s better by now.
I thought the last call before the conference, on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, should be given over simply to a conversation among the conference participants as to their responses to these calls as a whole and their hopes for the upcoming conference. I hope you can think about taking a little time out of your holiday weekend for that.


April 20 Conference Call–Thomas Merton

Larry Inchausti will be leading our call Sunday, April 20, on Thomas Merton and other assorted matters. If you’re not famliar with Merton, he was a major influence on Parker Palmer. An aspiring literary critic, trained at Columbia by Mark van Doren and others, he chose instead to lead a monastic life that led to a different kind of literary career, as the author of what is probably the most powerful oeuvre of wisdom literature of the last century. He is our great contemporary precursor. Do join us, ESPECIALLY if you are unfamiliar with him!

To enter the call, simply dial 218-936-6666 and follow the prompts. Our code is 9936250#.