Body and the Brain | Expeditionary Learning | Montessori ‘Hands-on’ Learning

Back when I was on my way hitchhiking to San Francisco in 2012, I encountered some teachers who had just attended a conference on the subject of Expeditionary Learning. I wrote about it. https://carolkeiter.wordpress.com/2012/05/17/hitchabout-san-francisco_expeditionary_learning/

Several days ago the subject of Montessori schools and hands-on learning popped up. I had to investigate if these are in fact, two ways of saying the same thing. I have a feeling that they are. Well, ‘jein’ as a German would say, ja und nein (yes and no) together! They are and they aren’t the same. They are two distinct schools of learning, yet, quite parallel and sort of extensions or facets of one another – in that they are each rigorously proponents of hands-on, getting intimately involved in the entire scope of learning about a subject, interdisciplinary and relying on your own curiosity to motivate you to further investigation. Both involve exploring cooperatively as a group and diving into the whole scope, rather than slicing off disparate parts.

Expeditionary Learning?

what is Expeditionary Learning?

The area of study is called embodied learning.

As young children move and explore their worlds, they are learning through touch. Early bimanual training correlates with the robustness of the corpus callosum, a part of the brain that facilitates quick communication between the left and right brain hemispheres.

 

 

Just as body movement and involvement can have a huge impact on learning, so too can the spaces where we learn.

 

Corpus Callosum neural fibers connecting two cerebral hemispheres, brain

Corpus Callosum neural fibers connecting two cerebral hemispheres of the brain

Mind Shift, Kids, Move, Touch, Experience.Learning

Mind Shift – Why Kids Need to Move, Touch and Experience to Learn

 

 

This article featured on KQED news written by Katrina Schwartz March 26th, 2015 “Why Kids Need to Move, Touch and Experience to Learn” describes how Maria Montessori, founder of Montessori Schools, highlighted the connection between minds and bodies in her 1936 book The Secret of Childhood “Movement, or physical activity, is thus an essential factor in intellectual growth, which depends upon the impressions received from outside.

 

 

Through movement we come in contact with external reality, and it is through these contacts that we eventually acquire even abstract ideas.”

Maria Montessori was best known for her philosophy of education that bears her name. It is an educational approach based on the model of human development.

I see that yes, Expeditionary Learning is an extension of what the Montessori school education is for children at a younger age. The Montessori Method are classes which consist of children of different ages together in what resembles more of a real world environment. The younger children (age 3 to 5) focus their ‘work’ on materials that develop cognition through seeing, tasting, smelling and touch through direct experience. Elementary-age children in the upper grades shift away from the concrete (sensory) to focus more on abstract tasks. The materials and curriculum are inter-disciplinary, and children begin to apply their knowledge to the real world. For example, students may study a map of Europe, and not only learn about it in terms of geography, but also incorporate learning about art and history of the continent; a process which allows the topic to be studied from the whole, not merely discrete separate parts.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Expeditionary_learning_schools (ELS) are models of comprehensive school reform based on the educational ideas of German educator Kurt Hahn, the founder of Outward Bound. There are more than 150 expeditionary learning schools in 30 states and the District of Columbia. They are exemplified by project-based learning expeditions, where students engage in interdisciplinary, in-depth study of compelling topics, in groups and in their community in which the students become involved with real topics, in real communities, involving the various different subjects that otherwise would be isolated and sliced out of the entire picture. The emphasis is on people working together and involvement in the whole picture.

History class, ELS, students, curiosity

History class ELS NY students create projects suggested by their own curiosity

Open World Learning http://open.spps.org/expeditionary_learning informs us that Expeditionary Learning is built on ten design principles that reflect the educational values and beliefs of Outward Bound. These principles also reflect the design’s connection to other related thinking about teaching, learning, and the culture of schools.

1. Primacy of self-discovery – Learning happens best with emotion, challenges and support…students undertake tasks that require perseverance, fitness, craftsmanship, imagination, self-discipline, and significant achievement. A teacher’s primary task is to help students overcome their fears and discover they can do more than they think they can.

2. Having wonderful ideas – Fostering curiosity about the world and giving students something important to think about, experiment and make sense of what they are observing.

3. Responsibility for Learning – Learning is both a personal process of discovery and social activity. It encourages both children and adults to become increasingly responsible for directing their own personal and collective learning.

4. Empathy and Caring – Students’ and teachers’ ideas are respected and where there’s mutual trust. Out of the hierarchy, into having an adult being an advocate and older students mentoring younger ones.

5. Success and Failure – Students need to be successful to build confidence and the capacity to take risks and meet increasingly difficult challenges. Yet students must learn from their failures and learn how to turn obstacles into opportunities.

6. Collaboration and Competition – Students are encouraged to compete against their personal best, not against each other. Individual and group development are encouraged and integrated towards valuing friendship, trust and group action.

7. Diversity and Inclusion – Students investigate and value their different histories and talents as well as those of other communities and cultures. They recognize that diversity and inclusion increase the richness of ideas, creative thinking and problem solving.

8. Natural World – A direct and respectful relationship with the natural world refreshes the human spirit and teaches the important ideas of recurring cycles and cause and effect. Students learn to become stewards of the earth and of future generations.

9. Solitude and Reflection – Students and teachers need time alone to explore their own thoughts, make their own connections and foster their own ideas and thinking, They can then exchange these reflections with others.

10. Service and Compassion – We are crew, not passengers. Students and teachers are strengthened by acts of consequential service to others, and one of an Expeditionary Learning school’s primary functions is to prepare students with the attitudes and skills to learn from and be of service.

mid-October Berlin Whirlwind review | Unification Day | Festival of Lights

Now that I’ve remained afloat after yet another day of diving into the labyrinth of job seeking, I’m free to bring together a few concepts that have been – on hold in the fold – relegating this post to be a recap of the quickly whizzing by Berlin events of October. hence, the mid-October Berlin Whirlwind review.

The month began with the celebration of the Unification Day between West and East Berlin. Wir Sind Deutschland | Upwards of 500,000 gathered before the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany for Unification Day | Tag der Deutschen Einheit.
Wir_Sind_Deutschland_We_Are_GermanyTag der Einheit on the 3rd of October, taking place at Brandenburg Gate, where many Berlin festivals take place, along what is called the Fan Meile, which is what it sounds like, a mile of fans, often centered around the country’s biggest sport, fuss ball.

Ironically, I was going to the Brandenburg Gate, not realizing that this was the Unification day. I actually told a friend to ‘meet me at the stage’, among 800,000 people or so, Gareth_aka_Joe_aka_MC_bearpit_karaoketo catch the bearpit karaoke, removed from its usual home at the built-in stadium of Mauer Park. Now it was featured in MAXi size, accompanying the Coca Cola sponsored ‘Festival of Happiness‘.

Here are some photos of the German Unification Day taken on the 3rd of October, 2013 by the Brandenburg Gate.
Coke_Festival_of_Happiness_German_Unification_Day
Coca_Cola_music_festival_of_happiness

And then the lovely boys singing in boy bands arrived. Among them, The Wanted crowd_boy_bands_Cokes_Festival_of_Happiness_Unification_Day_Berlin

Siva_Kaneswaren_the_Wanted

IMG_0004

I feasted on concepts, along with an assortment of pretzels and wines at the opening evening of the Art University of Berlin’s – Künste und Wissenschaften (art & science) Conference October 10th – 12th. Ingesting the blending of concept distinctions between
Perception vs. Experience Experiment vs. Knowledge, while twirling a pretzel around my fingers. On a separate day I watched an experimental music concert featuring new and old instruments.

Symposium performance

Symposium performance

UDK Symposium Ensemble

UDK Symposium Ensemble

UDK Symposium Ensemble

UDK Symposium Ensemble

Coinciding with the Symposium – squeezed between the rainy days on the 10th to 13th of October, was the the ‘street art‘ festival at Yaam. The rain did finally keep Angelz away from his work. “Street Art Meeting” Yaam ‘Alias’

Yaam 'Street Art' festival October 10 to 14th

Yaam ‘Street Art’ festival
October 10 to 14th

Here are a few photos of the Street Art Festival at Yaam, amidst rainy weather conditions.

Occurring prior to the start of this same weekend, was Berlin’s ‘Festival of Lights’,

Berlin Festival of Lights 2013

Berlin Festival of Lights 2013

in which I also accidentally to be at the right place at the right time, coming upon the ‘Opening Ceremony’.
Berlin Festival of Lights 2013

Berlin Festival of Lights 2013 [caption id="attachment_3381" align="aligncenter" width="630"]Berlin Festival of Lights on the Oberbaum Bridge - neon street art rock-paper-scissors Berlin Festival of Lights
on the Oberbaum Bridge – neon street art rock-paper-scissors

Captured above and below, in addition to the fact that it was the last evening of Berlin’s Festival of lights, is that on the Oberbaum Bridge, Oberbaumbrücke, just south of the Warschauerstr. U-Bahn train, is someone’s contribution of neon art which has been there for years. Two circular vessels which light up with the rock-paper-scissors or roshambo game. It’s fun to play against the bridge!. The full moon was looming above on the 20th of October.

rock-paper-scissors on the Oberbaum brücke Berlin

rock-paper-scissors on the Oberbaum brücke Berlin

Here are some photos I captured of Berlin’s Festival of Lights.

Recent warmer days brought out the kids in all of us, and then genuinely some kids, at Gleiesdreiecke.

Gleiesdreiecke Park

Gleiesdreiecke Park

Gleiesdreiecke Skate Park Gleiesdreiecke Skate Park

I was surprised to discover one after another different urethane-wheeled device dipping into the pool; skateboards, inline skates, skooters and some exceptions, bmx bikes. gleiesdreiecke_pool_park_skater_

A letter to my Mother | Berlin sights | Festival of Lights

Hello Mother and Daddy – I know my recently deceased father is present –

I’ve started writing you a letter, that has evolved into a blog. I’ll send it now, and work on the blog. This is a multi dimensional letter that covers a lot of info, that should keep you busy for a while!! I will try skyping you when i get home in the evening. As now, I have internet 24/7 in my room. I decided to send it to siblings as well, in case they feel like reading it.

First, I moved to a new place on Monday. It was a reaction to the former place. I felt that some of the people were not only unfriendly, but becoming hostile. So, I sent out the word to friends here in Berlin (using the internet of course) and within the same day I had responses. Some responded to my S.O.S. about abruptly needing to replace my power adapter for my Mac. Another responded to my realization that if in fact, as I pretty much blatantly sensed was true, someone had tampered with/exchanged my adapter for their faulty one, it might be a pretty good idea to get out of there as quickly as physically possible. I did – later that evening – realizing that it would NOT be in my best interest to stay there even one more night.

Jah of York collective Euromerican

Jah of York collective Euromerican

Jay is an American male friend of mine, who is a singer born and raised in NYC, who has created a band and is working hard on putting his music out there. Jay, also calls himself Jah, short for his real name Jaheed, is a singer just like my friend Saudia, who is also here in Berlin, born and raised in NYC, and making her mark with her music. Both of them have African American roots, both of them came to my rescue. Jah, with the housing, Saudia with the adapter. I met Jah at the bearpit karaoke in Mauerpark in 2010, when i approached him among the entire crowd of people, and asked if he wanted to sing a male part of the song I was about to go onto the stage and sing. We’ve been continuously in touch with each other ever since. He has put together a band and put on a lot of performances, as well as starting an ‘open stage/ open mic’ jam session at a bar in one neighborhood here. He’s a very solid guy, very kind, positive and spiritual. An uplifting person to be around. In the meantime, Saudia has saved the day not only with forwarding me information about work, insights on how to stabilize here in Berlin, and she’s also a bright, spirited person who is uplifting with her humor and hard working. She and I met when we were each peripherally involved in an English speaking play several years ago. We’ve remained in touch when each have bounced back and forth from the USA. She recently absolutely ‘saved the day’ by having an extra Mac adapter cable, which tend to be constructed to ‘deconstruct’ within a certain time frame. (I’m thinking of gathering names/people who have also had this particular Powerbook power adapter cable problem (the tiny cable severing itself) to start another ‘class action law suit against Apple’ to impel them to replace these cheaply made gadgets that are expensive and proprietary to the point that these are irrevocably necessary in order to turn your machine on! Saudia not only sings, but also recently relaunched her accessories line Rose&Young (earrings, necklaces, makeup bags, cuffs, iPhone bags, eyeglass cases and custom orders). The main materials are leather and wool felt. She’s another pleasant optimistic and talented friend to have.
Saudia Young - Dark Kabaret

Saudia Young – Dark Kabaret

The circumstances is that I mentioned that I would prefer to immediately leave my place, and he responded by email, you can stay at my place. He also offered to help me move. I went to his place, parked my bicycle among the others in his courtyard. We chatted for a while, then went together on the train and moved my stuff out in one trip. He had just applied for a job as a camp counselor for a YMCA camp in Spain, and received notice the day before that he could take it. It is not permanent, but the timing was perfect.

As we were heading back on the move, he received an anticipated call, and this guy backed out, declined staying at his place. That left his apt open, with no one set up to move in. I had already gotten cash out of the bank and hadn’t paid the last people because the main renter (grumpy father there) was on a vacation. Because of the increasing hostility there, I withheld my rent (unconsciously and consciously), though I had gotten it out of the bank and was waiting to pay the main guy once he returned from his vacation. I was therefore able to offer Jay cash for the rest of this month (including the fact that he helped me move and was generous with his time and welcoming nature).

I now do not have to ‘watch my back’ and worry about my stuff. Jay left with his band to perform several concerts in Amsterdam over the next 5 days, will be back for 2 days, and his bags are already packed for Spain till the end of November. The place is perfect. Centrally located, handsome and clean flat. He has wireless internet and it is literally in exactly the neighborhood I’ve decided that I prefer. It is within a block of where Saudia just moved.

I just came across this article in the New York Times and am sharing it with you, because it encapsulates why Berlin has become such an attractive place for artists and musicians in the last years. Here’s the article!

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/09/arts/music/classical-musicians-too-make-berlin-their-capital.html?pagewanted=1&_r=3&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20131009

It provokes me to want to work hard and be as inventive and flexible as possible, to stay here, at least for a while. Not just run away, but take on the challenge of finding income and making this opportunity. Here’s the article, simply single or double click on it. Then I have several additional links that you can click on if you want, regarding some of the people mentioned in the article, that I looked up and wanted to read about.

This is the beauty of the internet. The fact that the source of information doesn’t stop with that page, but can keep on expanding, as you can always use a search engine like ‘google’, to look up an additional topic, person’s name, place, etc.
For example, in the article, the writer mentioned these other names with whom I wasn’t familiar, so I googled them:

Itzhak Perlman
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0674221/bio

Simon Rattle
http://www.theguardian.com/music/2013/jan/10/simon-rattle-berliner-philharmoniker

Daniel Barenboim
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Barenboim

Khatia Buniatishvili

Khatia Buniatishvili pianist

Khatia Buniatishvili pianist


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khatia_Buniatishvili
Khatia Buniatishvili at piano

Khatia Buniatishvili at piano

I love you very much and look forward to skyping with you.

Below, I’m sending a link of this conference that I’m going to today, with a new American acquaintance, David, whom I met shortly after I arrived here at this ‘open house’ of the Kompakt music label together with Ableton who produce the music composing/performing software I’ve been using. David and I had an immediate connection because of the fact that I had created some songs incorporating whale and dolphin calls, and he has already literally recorded whale calls sitting on boats, and made recordings of whales, bird songs and cicadas, among other insects and recordings.

David Rothenberg music of nature

David Rothenberg music of nature


He’s also written books on the topics and has already given me some solid critical advice and direction as to the writing of my book. I have finally made the time to hang out with him and join him am looking forward to it. His work is described in his website. http://davidrothenberg.wordpress.com Here’s the link, in German, to the conference I’ve attended for the last two days. http://gs.udk-berlin.de/graduiertenschule-der-udk-berlin/graduale-13/
Forget about trying to read it, it’s in German and I couldn’t find the English, but the program is English. It’s put on by the ‘University of Arts’ in Berlin, and the topic is
PERCEPTION, EXPERIENCE, EXPERIMENT AND KNOWLEDGE Objectivity and Subjectivity in the Arts and Sciences.

We will go to the exhibition of this first day.

Yesterday, I bicycled to this office I remembered from years ago where they give advice to foreigners (from everywhere) who are trying to immigrate/relocate to Germany. I remembered the address, looked it up on the internet, found the address, and went there after hours, just to see if indeed the place is still there, and if they have their office hours printed on the door. The place was open, and indeed they still exist. I’m delighted, I’ll go there prior to going to the VISA office, so that I know ahead of time all the prerequisites, the right angle to approach the governmental office.

Sony Center cyberpunk corporate urban center

Sony Center cyberpunk corporate urban center


On the way back, I decided to swing by the Sony center, an elaborate architectural structure that draws a phenomenal amount of tourists. Above is a wikipedia link that not only shows pictures of this extravagant building and how it looks when it’s glowing in the evening, but also the history of what was there, a thriving community in the center of Berlin, before it was all bombed and leveled. Sony Center Berlin

When I arrived in Berlin in 1995 the first time, this whole area was just a vast field of nothing, then eventually a huge gaping hole when the building construction had not yet begun. There were also eventually, literally hundreds of cranes there, so that around Christmas time, many of these were decorated with Christmas lights!

It is also next to this memorial to the Jewish people who died because of the Nazi regime

It’s not far from all of the new government buildings that were constructed when the German government decided to relocate back to Berlin, from Bonn, in the West.

Government building Berlin, GermanyThey literally had to build all of the buildings, along this canal, near the Haupt Bahn Hof/Main Train Station. Here is a link that provides you with a bunch of pictures of all of these new and old remaining government buildings Berlin. government_buildings_berlin

What happened yesterday after I bicycled by this office in the late afternoon to make sure it’s still physically there, is I decided to swing back through the Sony Center, always swarming with tourists and illuminated by lights that change colors. Then as I was about to head home, I saw this unusually large crowd of people, naturally wandered over, then saw people straining to here some musicians. I made my way in a bit, and leaned over to ask these two young Indian guys if they knew what was going on, and in English, they answered back that they live right around the corner, and that this is the opening ceremony (about to begin) of Berlin’s annual “Festival of Lights”, which will be continuing until the 20th of October. http://festival-of-lights.de/en/

Berlin Fesitval of Lights 2013

Berlin Fesitval of Lights 2013


That was only the beginning of my evening. I wound up bantering back and forth with these two, then going to park my bike at a post to get it out of the crowd and returned to them. We wound up talking for the next 6 hours. I’m going to write a blog about it, because i gathered an astounding amount of information. Both articulate, between active listening and contributing to all sorts of topics, the two of them expounded a great deal of information. One, Kuldeep (the talkative/business marketing oriented one) nicknamed ‘Sunny’, a diplomats son who was raised until 12th grade in Tokyo. He attended the schools of the Indian embassy there, then studied at a university in India (to get closer to his roots) and later worked for Deloitte, a consulting firm in New York city. However, not satisfied with having an abundance of wealth, he left this high paying job to travel on his own and rediscover his spiritual routes. Having then a deeper sense of what his priorities in life, he is now studying together with his friend at the same University and program. The Technical University of Berlin offers a program on Entrepreneurial Business together with computer technical training. The other, Vaibhav (more technically oriented and quiet, yet just as ready to offer pertinent information) nicknamed ‘Web’ is from Goa, India. He attended a technical university there, and now is also here in Berlin. The two of them met at a technical trade show in Canada a few years ago. We had such a resonance and rapport, that they invited me to join them for dinner at their student housing apartment just a few hundred yards away. Sunny cooked, and was extremely articulate. He speaks excellent English, Japanese, Hindi, in addition to several other Indian dialects. Vaibhav pronounced ‘Vibow’ brought up several TED talks, one echoing the subject of happiness that I mentioned I had blogged about.

And another ‘TED talk’ presentation on robotics, given by an Indian man, Vijay Kumar, who is preeminent in the electronics industry.

This man was formerly a professor at University of Pennsylvania. (Vibow loves Philadelphia and wanted more than anything to attend this school, where Daddy and you met). Vijay Kumar has since been consulting with Barack Obama to council him on (probably the more weapons side) of robotics.

The White House hosted a Robotics hangout, ‘The Hangout’ will be moderated by Vijay Kumar, assistant director for robotics and cyberphysical systems,
http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/artificial-intelligence/white-house-to-host-robotics-hangout-on-friday

Vibow is very interested in robotics, and designs apps particularly for robotic hardware. Yeah, these two are exceedingly brilliant and very open to ideas, full of life and energy. I learned so much that I haven’t even begun to notate all that the two of them communicated to me, in terms of culture, business, marketing, language, Indian culture…. It all started because I stopped by this Apple repair one-man-business Freakin’ Mac Store whom I knew by word-of-mouth, and was a customer of for several years.

freakin Macstore repair and parts with a smile in Prenzlauer Berg Berlin

freakin Macstore repair and parts with a smile in Prenzlauer Berg Berlin

Sunny said that among the patents created by start-ups in Silicon Valley, CA between 2006 and 2013, 36% were created by Indians. (I may be misquoting this figure). In the last decades, their country devoted a massive amount of educational infrastructure to the computer/electronics industry, and now they are cranking out brilliant and excellence students, in a very competitive intellectual environment.

okay, i have to get ready to go out now.

love,

Carol