Description of current book project for LinkedIn

I am writing a book the working title of which is “Beauty and the Phi Ratio: Integration Curriculum for Home Schoolers.”

I count myself so lucky to have the opportunity to work on this book, which represents a synthesis of my career as a classroom teacher and learning designer. I feel it is vitally important for me to transition into developing this alternative approach for K-12 and lifelong learners, because we need genuine alternatives now more than ever. The overall intention is to help learners have a successful experience of making meaningful connections with conceptual content, to come to self-identify as confident, balanced and independent thinkers. That is my mission.

Being a learner designer and former kindergarten teacher, I started with activities for learners, and have several developed. But I realized that the thinking here is so outside-the-box that people were not seeing the connections I am seeing. So I have undertaken to write a book to fill in some of the dots. In a way the book will never be finished, since there is an infinite number of dots and connections to be made, and that is what learning is. I hope and believe it’s enough if this book gives enough information, asks enough questions, and gives enough direction for us to continue the learning journey together.

The book has several goals.

1. To lay out a rationale for “integrated curriculum,” which means an interdisciplinary approach to learning.

2. To describe the hands-on, experiential, curriculum-correlated thinking skill activities I have developed for home schoolers. The target audience is junior high but these appeal to and can be done by learners of all ages.

3. To provide a model for evolving a learning community around the use of this resource; the model uses the martial arts studio “dojo” concept involving peer evaluation of public performances.

4. To use the notion of “beauty” as a vehicle for reflection, critical thinking and dialogue on media, power relations and self-image, in the context of a historical debate of universal relevance.

5. To explore the geometry of the phi ratio/Fibonacci series to develop awareness of logic, data visualization and to compare world views across time and cultures.

6. To provide access and contact information for prospective participants of the online course, which already exists.

7. To make connections with integrated fields of studies and approaches to life such as meditation, permaculture, and sacred commerce.

An added challenge is to aim as much of this content as possible at the 14-year old reader, to address the “why?” and “how?” and not only the “what?” This is a book and a program I would have loved when I was 14. I believe and hope it will also be a stimulating and useful resource for parents, teachers and everyone involved with and interested in education.

That is a lot to accomplish in a little book! But the further I go with this project, the more I see how coherent it is, which I believe shows the time for these ideas has come. I dare say this book will be one of the most original books on education to come along for a long while. At the same time great ideas are not much use if they can’t be applied in the real world. So along with this book I am presenting an online course constructed in the open-source Moodle environment to enable registration, access to downloadable materials, and forums for discussion and interaction.  To this end I am bringing my 10 years of experience as a learning/instructional designer of digital resources and online courses in the public sector to bear.

However first and foremost I am a teacher, and in the months ahead I will continue to work personally with learners as they go through this material. I invite anyone reading this with an interest in any of this to contact me, and send learners my way! I plan to publish the book as an eBook, and make it available this fall for sale for about five dollars.

Thanks for reading and please get in touch.

 Michael

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June 17 My copyright statement

Having witnessed the bloody copyright dealings and debates from within the educational resource development community, I’ve thought about how I am going to deal with this interesting and tricky topic.

Living in this capitalist system I need to pay some bills, but being a wannabe devotee of permaculture interested in designing something better, I’ve come up with “michaelCenkner-2013-cc-by”

What I intend that to mean is that I created the given image in the given year, and I release it to public use according to the Creative Commons framework; you may sell this image but please attribute me. If you like my material contact me and we can maybe work together in some mutually beneficial fashion.

If you are part of a school or agency, or if you are an entrepreneur who is interested drop me a line. I live for and through discovering opportunities and I think you do too!

On the entrepreneurial side the strategy is that if anyone sells this image that will increase its real value; anyone understanding that would also understand the value further multiplies in the re-use. In this regard I mention the book The Hidden Geometry of Life by Karen French. The movement will be to educate everyone in these important matters, so that people can enjoy learning and relearning simple and profound truths.

Things derive their being and nature

by mutual dependence and are nothing in themselves.

Nagarjuna, ancient Buddhist

As part of that community of truth-expressers I can expect to find yield from the whole adventure in unforeseen ways.  That is the theory of sacred commerce. Contact me by email at cenkner@gmail.com

Thank-you and enjoy!

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Advaita and Quantum Physics (the role of the specialist and the concept of a discipline)

In this video Mooji answers questions from a student of quantum physics, about the mind in the context of scientific disciplines. What he says is very ego-shattering to the specialist in me, the absolute impossibility of genuinely approaching truthful inquiry without completely committing oneself in one’s entirety, “putting the researcher under the microscope.” Around 1:27:58 he talks about Carl Jung’s visit to Ramana’s ashram, while the great master was dying.

For me this is a wonderful discussion of things I am in the midst of these days. In this video Mooji is saying from the advaita point of view what we think of as “progress” is merely a re-naming of things that exist constantly, with the renaming happening because we can’t stand for it not to change, since we need the distraction of process.

I find this very significantly correlating with my finding in the Beauty course, in that

-the whole “hate-case” stance I’m taking about square roots is intended to point to  √5 as an identity, not as a value (which would be calculated). Then by “identity” I mean philosophically it “just is what it is,” the question becomes more how I am in relation to that, rather than the focus on understanding it as part of some process. The gaze is more inward

-the content is universal and timeless.  The point is made in the course that the Ancient Greeks used mathematics (geometry) as a way to improve thinking skills and contemplate Truth and the universe. I am not advocating the Greek tradition but rather presenting it as an alternative perspective on the geometry that is taught in schools, especially at the junior high level. The question in the video is, can this kind of comtemplation in form actually lead to truth? This would be an appropriate question to ask of junior high age students. I personally am working through this question and don’t have a definite answer. Mooji answers, if it leads to stillness.

-the learner is there to come to his/her own truth.

Full disclosure: the theory part of this is that a genuine community of learning will arise from this. People sharing an experience of learning something beautiful and useful in a profound way will want to share the experience, insights, tools and vision they have in common.

-the notion of time disappears from the navigation, when there is no sequence to observe, i.e. there is no definite time relation required between activities. The video in several places discusses Einstein’s notion of space-time, as described by the questioner who is a mathematician.  The arbitrariness of sequence and order is an underlying element to explore and come to terms with in the course. (No one has experienced it yet as of March 15 though.)

-the design is asking for a great personal statement from participants, relative to simply knowing about something. While we were discussing this, my collaborator said “I can do it, I’m a trooper.” Neither she nor I can come through this experience completely unchanged. Mooji challenges all of us with the thought, “The understanding of these concepts in relation to who I believe I am in this moment.”

It appears that the Beauty course (Beauty and the Phi Ratio) has a strong resonance with this teaching, and I personally find a strong resonance with Mooji’s teaching.

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Artist’s (my) description of four recent pieces mentioned in previous post

From email to Tomasz at ISBE recently:

“hi tomasz! novem roku (spelling?), i hope all is well with you!
i am writing to tell you i have four fantastic new pieces that extend my previous expression of the phi ratio in my art. one you will recognize is of ‘summer and winter’ expressed on a like centripetal symmetry; one is ‘heart emanations’ which was a slide in my sacred geometry presentation, however now it will be printed in a rather large and dramatic giclee. by the way i have found an inexpensive and potentially satisfactory printing source. i have one piece being printed by them for thursday, let’s call it the third of this series of four. it is called ‘great lake’ and it expresses a very personal, abstract yet organic view of geometry, somehow related to the gorgeous lakes i experienced in the canadian north, and yet is also classical with a dash of surreal. and the fourth and last is by far the most abstract piece i have done yet and it also features a strong post-modern, self-referential motif of levels or dimensions. this piece, to be called perhaps ‘ticket to the next stop’ is i suspect an iconic canadian image, which is also timely: it incorporates a socio-spiritual text for contemplation and connection. in that sense it is intended for people to not only enjoy but discuss, in ways accessible to elementary interpretation. another possible title for this is ‘i hope all can enjoy’ which sentiment  is expressed in awesome popping spring colours. i am dying to see this in giclee as i saw it on the water in the spring of ’87,  let’s sell 99 of these in 2013. you will see btw that unlike the work of photographers going to giclee this art could not be done any other way, i mean through the combination of manual and digital manipulation and treatment the images go through in the design and realization of the image to canvas, now i have realized that this can only be printed to giclee. and i am grateful to have partners i seem to be able to communicate and connect with to a successful extent, and i’m grateful to you at isbe already also in this regard.
i expect to have a canvas to show you by saturday, so maybe we can set up a time to show you all it and perhaps put it up in isbe immediately. could i invite some people to the gallery for me to introduce this image on saturday?
thank-you gentlemen and kind regards,”

whiteboard-starter

For lunchtime white-board use.

This images btw is not one of the four coming to ISBE, but rather arises from an educational project I’m also working on.

Quoted from email from me to tomasz recently

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Phi Ratio Patterns Art

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Welcome to michaelcenkner.com

Here is a quick overview of my main three creative projects: Phi Ratio Patterns artwork, voyBom vocal harmony body movement, and the Beauty Course.
This year 2013 I intend to focus on introducing my work to a larger audience, so please stay tuned for further developments.

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michaelcenkner.com, 2013

This site gives information about my three primary activities, outside of my full-time job as a post-secondary learning designer (developer of university online courses):

-The Beauty Course, an interdisciplinary online course for life-long learners (esp. home-schooling junior high students) which uses the concept of “beauty” as a way of developing specific thinking skills; reflecting on the important notion of beauty and how it is used in society; and understanding classical geometry involving square roots and the phi ratio

-voyBom vocal harmony body movement, an inclusive musical activity that uses open-tuned guitars, toning, and improv elements to bring virtually anyone, regardless of talent or training, into the “jamming” experience, and

-“patterns of phi” geometric art, which uses permutations of the “phi ratio” found in nature to create organic, harmonious digital images

More infomation on each of these of my pursuits follows below.

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