the institute for educational studies



Creative Expression: Sharing Prose, Poetry, Music and Art

Participants are invited to share their own, as well as other’s creative expressions, that respond to the questions:

In what ways might prose, poetry, music and art respond to Cosmos and Gaia?

What contexts and processes in education might liberate teachers and learners so that they become catalysts for a “new human” – one whose integral relationship with Gaia is bound by right-action and love?

Philip Snow Gang, Ph.D., Academic Dean of The Institute for Educational Studies (TIES) M. Ed. Programs at Endicott College in Integrative Learning and Montessori Integrative Learning, is a pioneer in the field of integrative, systemic and transformative approaches to education. His newest work is the film, To Educate Eco-Sapiens, where he explores educating in the Ecozoic Age.

He is the author of Rethinking Education, co-author of Conscious Education: The Bridge to Freedom, appears in DeCarlo’s anthology, Towards a New World View: Conversations at the Leading Edge and is creator of the ecological mobile map material, Our Planet, Our Home. His recent article, Cosmos, Gaia and Eros: Integrative Learning, Creativity and the Primal Paradox, was published in the May 2015 issue of About Place Journal.

Awakening the Earth Mind, an Ancient Holistic Mode of Consciousness

The anthropocentric (human-centered) mode of consciousness that has dominated our thinking for the last 20,000 or so years views the world in terms of subjects and objects. Most people implicitly believe that this mode of consciousness is consciousness itself, the only way of perceiving the world and understanding our place in it. However, a second mode of consciousness that we call the holomorphic or Earth mind mode, also exists in us. This is a holistic way of seeing and being in nature that is also part of our evolutionary heritage. This mode of consciousness has been inadvertently suppressed by an overfocus on the anthropocentric mode. But it has been kept alive by indigenous peoples. The question put to conference attendees is: How can we re-awaken the Earth mind to help us face the climate crisis?

John P. Briggs, Ph.D. is the author of Fire in the Crucible and Fractals, a New Aesthetic of Art, Science and Nature, and co-author with David Peat of Seven Life Lessons of Chaos, Turbulent Mirror, and Looking Glass Universe. He is one of 12 distinguished professors named for the Connecticut State University system. He is a former chair of the English Department at Western Connecticut State University and heads the school’s professional writing program. He is the editor of the acclaimed literary magazine Connecticut Review. Briggs is also a professional photographer and fiction writer. He has been teaching creativity and writing for over 30 years.

steven-webAdolescence: giving agency to the autopoiesis of human experience.

Steven Arnold, (New Zealand) M.Ed., Lecturer, AUT (Auckland, New Zealand), Screenwriter

Adolescents may be the tip of the human tree.  They are growing, assimilating, adapting and absorbing their culture, while simultaneously changing, challenging and creating a new culture. In botany the growth process in the unfolding bud is called meristematic activity. The adolescent is the creativity and growth point of the human species, and key to our ongoing relationships with self, other and host. Humans have a cosmic task, to co-habit, co-create, and co-evolve with our host Gaia. This seminar will explore these ideas in order to further know, experience and understand ourselves, our environment to come to know our truths. How do we recognise, acknowledge, nurture and advance the role of Adolescence giving agency to the autopoiesis of human experience?

elizabeth-webIdentity building codes – Neuroscience and Montessori

Elizabeth Fassa, M.Ed,  (Brazil) Psychologist, educator, TIES Alumna

All our life we receive subliminal codes from our environment: codes of behavior, codes of feeling, statements on how one must be to be a boy or a girl… However, these codes are decoded in a very peculiar way by each person. Twin children growing up in the same family, receiving similar codes, will be similar in some ways, but very different in others. This seminar will consider how a person choose (unconsiously) the codes to build his/her own identity. It will also explore how these choices are related to genetics and structure and physiology of the brain; and how they are related to the affective bonds, life experiences and environment. We will also address how they are integrated to build identity.


The Hero’s Journey : Educating Through Authentic Story Telling

Julie Haagenson, (USA) M.Ed, Montessori Adolescent Teacher, TIES alumna and Adjunct Faculty

Joseph Campbell dedicated his life’s work to exploring the common threads that weave together the human story. He identifies it as the Hero’s Journey. Campbell described three distinct stages that underlie myths, legends, and movies from cultures around the world: Separation, Initiation, and Return.  In this seminar we explore this model and look at how the Hero’s Journey relates to our own stories and how  these stories emerge in our practice as educators. Arising questions include: How can we share authentic stories of our experience to connect and educate? How does Campbell’s idea of the monomyth present itself in stories-past and present- and in our own lives?

josette-webGrowing Together Accessing Wisdom with Children

Josette Luvmour, PhD, (United States)  developmentalist, consultant, educator, writer, and researcher.

Deep involvement with the children in our lives can break open our hearts to greater awareness. Everyone accepts that adults influence the child’s development but few realize how much the child’s influences change in the adult. This seminar will explore how sustained effort in conscientious relationship, nurturing the child’s development, can open adults to empathically engage, trust, employ the process of self-inquiry, and to lead to the emergence of new-meaning throughout life. Moreover, with intentional effort, wisdom is a potential. We will consider the questions: How do adults resolve difficult developmental tasks from their own childhoods from actively supplying the developmental imperatives of the child? What is the difference between change and transformation (epistemological change)? What are our innate capacities and how do we development those capacities in relationship? What kinds of relationships bring forth optimal well-being in children and transformation in adults?

lauren-webIncessant Connection, Total Distraction: Learning and Identity in the Cyber-Age

Lauren de Boer, MA, (United States) writer, composer, spiritual ecologist, TIES Adjunct Faculty

We live in a time when our technologies are increasingly colonizing our attention. In addition, there is a premium put on analytical thinking over the intuitive, fast thinking over reflection and contemplation, doing over being, and movement over staying put. Our immersion in the cyber-world is not only changing the way we think, but the physical structure of our brains. This seminar will explore various queries, among them: What are we distracted from? What is the quality of deep thought? What implications does a state of distraction have personally and on a planetary level? What are other queries we need to be exploring?

fowler-webSpirit in Education

John Fowler, PhD, (United States)  TIES Faculty, Senior Team Leader, Denison Montessori School, Denver Colorado, creator of The Time Line of Light

References to the spirit of the child, the school, the nation, and the planet abound. The questions this seminar explores are simple, yet profound and challenging: What does spirit mean through a pedagogical lens? …the lens of science? …culture, literature, classroom management? …professional growth? How might spirit be a force in the preparation of children, adolescents and adults in their various stages of personal evolution? What does it look like in both a sectarian and non-sectarian classroom? What spiritual practices lend themselves to the personal life of an educator? Can we find unifying principles behind these many faces of spirit?

andrea-webObserving Inner and Outer Worlds

Andrea Lulka, (Canada) M.Ed. Montessori alumna, mother and teacher. TIES alumna, dialogue enthusiast, supporter of teachers.

How might learning to simultaneously observe self and other help us come to better understanding of our role in the classroom, the needs of the child in the moment, and the dynamics between the two? The Montessori legacy leaves us with a mandate to observe and perceive the phenomenon before us in a non-prejudiced way. Observation is often conceived of as an act, as something we do in a classroom in order to assess various aspects of the child’s relationship to the environment. What might change in our perception, then, if we begin to conceive observation as an active process as well as an act? A verb instead of a noun. Montessori says, “Even when helping and serving the children, [the teacher] must not cease to observe them…” What might shift if we approach observation as a continuous state of being and a practice which can evolve to become integrated in our way of being? What if we were to apply this to our own responses, reactions and influences?

carolyn-webCommunication That Connects; The Magic of Validating Feelings

Carolyn Magnussen, MA (Norway), Montessori teacher, artist, life explorer

How might a small adjustment in our communication style create deep connection? Tuning into and learning the language of our emotions and validating feelings are powerful tools in creating peace and harmony personally and globally. In this seminar we will explore the senses and survival by asking: In what way does the primal yearning for connection and “feeling good” influence all of our actions? How do the two basic emotions of love and fear show up in our relationships? What it is and how it is the bottom line in all relationships (including our relationship to the Earth). We will also look at new brain research concerning feelings and connection, which includes: learning the language of needs and feelings; mirror neurons- seeing and being seen; the amygdala´s role and how to calm it; validating feelings as the key to connection; and deep listening. At the end of the seminar we will explore healing generational and personal trauma.

kathryn-web2Dancing with Systems:  Donella Meadow’s and Working with Systems

Kathryn Ross, (United States) TIES Faculty; Montessori Educator; observer of systems natural and man-made, big and small

Listen to the wisdom of the system; Stay humble; Stay a learner; Locate responsibility in the system; Go for the good of the whole; Expand the boundary of caring; Hold fast to the goal of goodness. This is excerpted from a list at the beginning of an essay by the late system’s theorist Donella Meadows. Playful and serious at the same time, her words invite us to take a step back from seriousness and the desire to control as we work with systems to become a watcher, a listener, and a dancer.  She invites us to get the beat, and makes the process sound fun!  We all belong to systems.  We teach; we have families; we lead schools; we plant gardens; we belong to communities.  Within this seminar we invite you to consider a system that is in your life and dance with it.  Ask questions about it.  Are there time horizons that can be expanded?  What about boundaries of caring?  How might you embrace its complexity?  What is its wisdom?  What does it have to teach you, and you it?

linda-webThe Evolution of the Ecozoic Human

Linda Engelhart, (United States)  AMI/AMS Montessori educator, M.Ed., TIES alumna, nature lover

Thomas Berry, the author of The Great Work: Our Way into the Future, foresees the need for the emergence of a new human, the ecozoic human. Berry would suggest that humanity needs to return to the recognition that our ancestors had—that we are part of a single integral community. Earth has human and other-than-human members; each being has a critical role to play in the ecosystem. Humankind is at a critical point in the Earth’s history, threatening the balance of life on the planet. In this seminar we will explore and discuss what we need to do as people, as parents, as educators and as world citizens to counter the forces that have brought us to the precipice of ecological crisis and to nurture the new human who will usher in the Ecozoic Era.

ba-webParticipating in the Inherent Spirituality of Children through Age 23

Geoffrey “Ba” Luvmour, MA, (United States) Author, Educator, Head of school, Explorer of consciousness and spirituality

Capacities are innate; development depends upon relationship. Spiritual capacities live in children as they do in everyone. How do these capacities manifest throughout the first 23 years of life? Critically, what kinds of relationships allow the spiritual capacities to flourish? These may be the most import questions facing us. Children who know themselves spiritually… are eco-sapiens. Spiritually oriented adults often impose their concept onto children as to what spirituality should look like. Might this impede their spiritual development? Our conversation will focus on how children organize their world, how their spiritual qualities and expression can be recognized (this will surprise most of you), and the many ways we can participate in relationships that support this natural unfolding. Topics we will explore: How children organize their world; Relationship beyond objectification; Wisdom, The dynamic interplay of organizing principle, relationship, and wisdom; implications for eco-sanity and social justice.

pauline-webA Dialogue on Dialogue and the Question to Life’s Answers

Pauline Matsis, (New Zealand) School Founder and Director, Questioner

In what ways can human brain begin to leave behind the world of the known, the world of time/thought in order to see life without prejudice, judgment, ideas, beliefs, self, and all that human brain attaches to. We call this life, and yet the question arises, Is what one sees as life really life, or is it just a bundle of memories, past thoughts projected into the present, which can never reveal life in all its profound and exquisite beauty, some call this “truth?” In the words of Jiddu Krishnamurti: A dialogue… is a form of communication in which question and answer continue till a question is left without an answer. Thus the question is suspended between the two persons involved in this answer and question. It is like a bud with untouched blossoms . . . If the question is left totally untouched by thought, it then has its own answer because the questioner and answerer, as persons, have disappeared. This is a form of dialogue in which investigation reaches a certain point of intensity and depth, which then has a quality that thought can never reach.

warren-sharon-webIntegrative Nutrition: Our human microbiome and Gaia

Sharon Moliken, MSW, Nutritional Therapist, Natural Foods Chef, community food activist, mother

Warren Moliken, TIES student, Master kombucha brewer, community food activist, humorist

During this symposium we will explore the human microbiome and the our food story as a context for understanding the ongoing evolution of Earth and all life forms. The complexity of today’s life forms have emerged from a cosmic unfolding that began some 13.8 billion years ago. Within this context, participants will explore how an understanding of the body’s second brain  –the microbial universe of our digestion– can transform our understanding of optimal health in order to support the microbiome with sustainable nutrition. We will also seek to understand how nutrition and lifestyle may determine genetic expression. The Ecozoic acknowledges that human activities on the Earth need to align with the all natural systems throughout the planet so that a creative balance can be achieved. Sustainable agriculture will be the keynote to replenish the planet’s most vital life source, the topsoil.


The geologic era that Earth is entering – when humans live in a mutually enhancing relationship with Earth and the Earth community. From

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