Category Archives: Wisdom Conference

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


Sunday, May 11, Plus What’s Up Next

Hi again!

Thanks again to Dick Graves, Charlie Suhor, and Alice Brand for a warm and moving reunion last week! I will be posting transcripts of that and earlier calls in the coming weeks before the conference.

We are going to switch speakers in our call May 11. Svi Shapiro from the Network of Spiritual Progressives will be on. This is a movement–hold onto your seats–to bring wisdom to democratic politics. Most of our speakers–Matthew Fox, Michael Nagler, Riane Eisler, and Robert Inchausti–as well as several participants and I myself have been involved in it. You can find out more from

The procedure is simply to dial 218-936-6666, follow the prompts, and then enter the code 9936250#.

The following week (May 18) will feature speakers from international movements for wisdom education, including this week’s scheduled speakers–more to follow.
The weekend before the conference is Memorial day. I thought it might be best to have the call in the morning, and just to debrief about the calls in general before the actual conference later in the week. We can talk about that tomorrow and the next week and see what you’d like.
We hope to have the full schedule out soon–there’s been a lot of bureaucracy to deal with recently that has kept us from finalizing it. Let me put a few things on the table for you:
1) We have a number of students and others who need help coming to the conference. Two people have already made donations that are covering several hundred dollars to fund scholarships and one is a $300 matching grant. If you would like to make a tax-deductible donation to AEPL (a 401c3 through our sponsoring organization, the National Council of Teachers of English), please write to me and say how much you are willing to pledge. This will help greatly, not just these individuals, but all of us, in helping to make our conference more diverse.
2) We are able to accommodate all of you in the main conference lodge–with not a single room to spare. We do also have access to four cabins that are more isolated, but a bit more primitive, if any of you would prefer to be more by yourselves. Here is their description: (Heat and electricity in rooms, no water. Sinks, separate compost privies and shower in buildings nearby, standard bathrooms in nearby buildings.) If you’d like to move to one of the cabins, let me know, preferably by Tuesday, as I need to submit our housing list the next day.
3) If any of you who are presenting have books that you would like to sell, you may either bring them to the conference, or have us order them for you. Get your order to me by Wednesday if you’d like us to order them for you. We are ordering through Barnes and Noble and returning what does not sell to the B & N store in San Jose, so there will be no losses on them.
All for now! I’m looking forward to winding down my bureaucratic role very soon and simply enjoying you and the conference! See you very soon!

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.


Wisdom Conference Call–March 2

Dear AEPL conference participants and others:

This is just to remind you of our upcoming call Sunday, March 2, in the evening, and of the storytelling guidelines offered us by Lorraine Calbow. (Below) We’ll judge how much time to give everyone when we know how many are on the call–so try to be on time if possible, and do announce yourself, if you ARE late, at a change of speakers, so we can make time for you at the end. My own story is, to a large extent, posted on the conference website–so I’ll defer to others in the interest of time.
> To enter
> the call, simply dial 218-936-6666 and follow the prompts. Our code
> is 9936250#.

I’m especially looking forward to this particular call, as it will be a chance to attach stories to your voices and faces!


Wisdom Conference Call–Storytelling Circles

Greetings All,

Bruce asked me to send out some ground rules for a storytelling circle. Storytelling circle is a good way to build community, but I have never done over the phone! Now I will be offering a presentation at the conference where we will have a storytelling circle where short wisdom stories will be shared as means to getting at a few of the conference questions.

But here are points of consideration for a storytelling circle:

1. It is always good to have a few prompts such as: What drew you to this conference? What are your own views about the nature of and importance of wisdom and your experiences of it in the classroom. Or, I would phrase it just a little differently: Tell us a moment or a story that illustrates why are coming this conference or share a moment or story that illustrates why you are a teacher or educator. It is common for listeners in a circle to have one story in mind, but as other stories are being told, another story will pop in and asked to be told.

2. One person shares at a time with no interruptions or asking of questions. No repeating of stories heard in the circle without permission from the person telling the story. (Usually I have several different objects in the circle. When a person is ready, the grab an object, hold on to the object while speaking, and put it down when finished. I would recommend some kind of vocal cue for us to announce “I’m ready to tell my story” and then one’s name and use the same vocal cue when finished.)

3. Time is always a challenge. I recommend short stories from 3-5 minutes to start so we can hear many stories. Bruce said he thought we can do at least this general format the next two times.

4. After everyone in the circle have told their stories, I usually have participants to talk about the common themes as well as the different perspectives that they noticed. I don’t know if we will have time to do this or not, but I am sure it will naturally happen.

I hope this helpful for next week’s call. Looking forward to hearing interesting vocal sounds and stories!


Wisdom Conference Calls

Dear AEPL conference attendees and others:


Our 14th annual conference, “Reclaiming the Wisdom Tradition for Education”, is gearing into action, even though we will not actually gather together for another three months. We are happy to announce a series of weekly conference calls that will begin next Sunday, February 17, and continue up until–and perhaps after–the time of the conference. We will feature many of the conference speakers, along with others who are unable to come but have much to contribute to our theme, and develop something of a common knowledge base around our topic. (Summaries will be sent out and posted on our blog––for those unable to attend.) To some extent, we will also try to build a learning community, but the possibilities for this will necessarily be limited, given that there may be as many as 150 people on these calls. (They will also be the national education conference calls for the Network of Spiritual Progressives. And you are all welcome to send this message to anyone you think might want to join us on these calls–just have them write to to be put on the announcement list.)

Our plan is to proceed chronologically: beginning with the development of wisdom in human biology, pre-history, and history; continuing with its partial eclipse in the modern Enlightenment; and leading to contemporary developments through which an understanding of the central importance of wisdom in education has been–and can be further–regained.

“When Wisdom Was Natural”: Our first speakers will be the philosopher Werner Krieglstein, Professor of Philosophy at the College of DuPage in Naperville, Illinois, and the novelist Mary Mackey, Professor of English and Writer-in-Residence at CSU, Sacramento. They will be speaking about the time in human pre-history, the Neolithic partnership cultures, in which the relational way of knowing and being that we now call wisdom (and that we now see as something quite rare and treasurable) was much more a part of the normal fabric of life than it is now.

We’ll begin with very brief introductions–just your name, hometown, and teaching field; continue with 40 minutes of talk by Werner and Mary; and conclude with Q & A for the speakers and a final discussion of the implications of what they have said for the conference theme. The call will last between 60 and 90 minutes, beginning at 9pm Eastern, 8 Central, 7 Mountain, 6 Pacific Time on Sunday, February 17. If you come into the call late, please don’t introduce yourself until the speakers and Q & A are finished. To enter the call, simply dial 218-936-6666 and follow the prompts. Our code is 9936250#. You’ll be charged only your regular long distance rates.

Recommended reading: Riane Eisler, The Chalice and the Blade, particularly Chapters 1-3; Mary Mackey, The Year the Horses Came; Werner Krieglstein, Compassion: A New Philosophy of the Other, particularly Chapters 5-6.

Our next speaker will be Gabriele Rico, Professor of English and Creative Arts at San Jose State University, who will be one of our featured speakers at the conference and has been on the Advisory Board of AEPL since its inception in 1993. She is the author of many works on the teaching of writing, including the best-selling Writing the Natural Way. She will speak on the features of our brains that enable us for wisdom. The time has yet to be arranged, but most likely will be the following Sunday, the 24th.