Seminar at Organic College

A couple of weeks back I ran a half-day seminar on sustainability themes for the students at An tIonad Glas, the Organic College in Dromcollogher, Co. Limerick, Ireland – organiccollege.com (many thanks to Catherine Caulwell for setting it up for me 🙂 ).

An interesting mix of themes – a brief practical intro to dowsing; the labyrinth as a generic model of the skills-learning process; and futures and other ‘big-picture’ approaches to sustainability issues.

The dowsing part was something they’d specifically asked for – they’re hands-on farmers, after all – and seemed to go down well, though there’s a limit to how much I can do with thirty students in a one-hour session! Most of them got the basic principles and practice to work, anyway, which was good.

The labyrinth was probably the part that went down best (you’ll find more on the basic ideas in chapter 4, ‘Thinking about thinking’, in “Elements of pendulum dowsing” – now a PDF e-book for free download from the Tetradian Books website). They had a lot of fun making it – we drew it out as a group in the car-park (with non-organic flour!), which again was a hands-on practice-piece for site layout – and I used it to lead them through both the individual and social-interaction aspects of learning skills. One guy who’d been quite cynical and ‘anti’ the whole thing suddenly ‘got it’ about an hour later: came up to me with a bright smile (his first of the day) just as I was leaving and said “that labyrinth thing, it’s brilliant!”, which was kind of nice. It definitely does works as a tool to get over the otherwise very abstract notion of ‘the skills-learning process’ because it’s experiential – people not only see the metaphor but feel it through direct experience.

The final section was, I’ll admit, a bit of a mishmash (what would be called a ‘mashup’ these days, I guess?) – some general ‘big-pictures’ ideas and tools, such as Spiral Dynamics, Cynefin, Causal Layered Analysis and others, all illustrated with sustainability examples. Dunno how well it went down: certainly got people thinking, from what Catherine said later, but the real impact probably won’t hit them for a year or two, I’d guess.

Good practical experience for me, too: been a while since I’ve done a seminar like that. Many thanks to all.

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One comment on “Seminar at Organic College
  1. Ah Tom, only just found this blog years after your visit and wonderful workshop(s) with us…

    The dowsing paved the way for a full project dowsing the main college site a year later which identified the width/depth of the strong ‘leyline’ running down to the church. Unconnectedly a later group put a gateway almost exactly running with the line!

    I discovered a photograph of the labyrinth workshop in and amongst the director’s print photographs a while back… I will refind and upload it in the near future for memories sake.

    I brought some visitors off to Lough Gur and the grange circle there recently and thought of our trip there… did you have photographs of that day? It would be lovely to see them.

    Peace, Catherine.

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