Workshops

I am available to run workshops on several topics. I charge a fee for these consulting services for schools, conferences and businesses.


1. Introduction to Design Thinking

For six years, after visits to a number of schools where Design Thinking was a part of the curriculum, and reading about design, I ran a middle school program on Design Thinking.  The core principles that I ran our program on were these:

  • Tools make tools make things;
  • Change two-dimensional (or digital) to three-dimensional;
  • What the hands make, the mind understands;
  • Concrete to Abstract to Concrete Thinking;
  • Visual thinking is a third way of explaining things, alongside literacy and numeracy;
  • You solve problems with the tools you know how to use.

In this 2-4 hour workshop (which I can scale to your timeframe), you and your institutional staff will examine these characteristics of design awareness, and learn to see the world in a new light.  Design process, and design thinking, aren’t the only ways to solve the world’s problems — but designs which touch the physical, intellectual, and emotional realms often get us closer to real solutions.  This workshop,  which I’ve run in various iterations ten times now, can help get teachers, librarians, and others, out of the abstract thought processes which tend to dominate the working day and the school day.

2. Introduction to the Palace of Memory

20130518-214441.jpgRenaissance spies and diplomats used this technique to recall the contents of letters and stolen documents without holding on to incriminating information. Classical Roman lawyers remembered the details of their legal defenses and court cases by the application of what they called “Artificial Memories”, and ancient Greek poets identified the identities of the victims of earthquakes… Sherlock Holmes and other fictional characters use the skills taught in this methodology to recall apparently trivial data to great effect. Today, we call these techniques Palaces of Memory.

In this two-and-a-half hour workshop, a group of up to 35 participants will be guided through a series of exercises designed to teach the core principles of what the book Ad Herennium calls “artificial memory”: the method of location, the method of images, and the method of paths; and the combination of these three techniques. Participants will see the methods in use, then perform some basic experiments to learn each technique, and then work through some exercises in combination. Memory champions are able to learn over 60,000 digits of π this way; you’ll learn how to memorize Shakespearean sonnets, story elements, and lengthy lists of unrelated or related words.

The class is only an introduction: many of these techniques require some weeks of additional practice to learn fully. However, you’ll make rapid progress in memory-related skills using Palace of Memory techniques.

What you’ll learn:

  • How to use Methods of Place to store points of information;
  • How to use Methods of Image to recall poetry and exact quotations;
  • How to use the Method of the Wheel to recall and perform long poetic passages;
  • How to use Roman Room techniques to build pathways between places and images;
  • How to use all four techniques together;
  • How to teach students to use these methods.

3. Finding the Divine Voice

I first ran this workshop in July 2013, where more than forty of the forty-five attendees rated it very highly. This workshop is an introduction to choral singing for non-singers, or for people who sang as children but have given it up for a while. It includes basic exercises in tone and breath control, in diction and harmonics, and in actual singing. The class takes about a hour and a half, and both non-singers and advanced singers came away with both practical and theoretical tools for success.

4. Introduction to Geomancy

Geomancy Visual Aids: History of GeomancyI have developed a new workshop on teaching Geomancy. It takes about an hour and a half, with an additional half-hour available for more advanced techniques. Participants in the workshop get a brief overview of the history of geomancy, and then some practical, hands-on instruction in generating the figures, filling in, and interpreting a a shield chart — the most basic form of chart available in these studies.

This is a great introduction to binary mathematics, and includes a brief introduction to the concept of the byte — an arrangement of binary numbers to produce specific patterns or themes of study.  The method of geomancy’s development in Europe from Arabic and African sources may be of some interest in some communities.

One of the participants in the prototype workshop in this series left saying, “I love workshops like this, where I enter knowing nothing, and leave being able to do it.”  Of all the workshops I’ve taught so far, this one had the most immediately positive effect upon its attendees by the end.

Objectives: students will learn the history of geomancy (very briefly), and then learn to: cast figures, fill a shield chart, and develop a basic interpretive framework for explaining the chart to the querent.