Growing our Imagination is Powerful

by: Josette Luvmour with excerpts from the Richard Lewis interview 11/27/18

The man who has no imagination, has no wings.

~ Muhammad Ali

The innate ability to imagine influences everything we do, think, dream, and create. Richard Lewis has worked in public schools for over 50 years to bring forth the incredible natural ability of imagination in children and adults. Moreover, he attracts a multi-talented group of artists to help him in this important work. Working with children from the youngest (in kindergarten) to the oldest (even adults), he said,

…the imagination is a natural act of being. It's not a segment of thought, but it might be the very nature of thought itself. And if that's the case, then it opens up a whole level of thinking by the child to see that they have a sense of control, a sense of empathy with their imaginative life.

A hidden gem in Richard’s interview is when he talks about teacher workshops in which he uses the same process that he uses with children to re-activate their adult imaginations. In his interview, Richard showed us how adults develop and grow beyond their fears. He said,

In the same way that the child is afraid, the adult is often afraid.

…sometimes they [teachers] get so excited. … that we can't stop them. It's almost as if they've rediscovered their own marvelous sense of childhood and it’s a way of perceiving.

I always comment on that and I say, "Well in a way it's that the link to childhood doesn't end. It's a continuous process." So that even though you were perhaps put in a position where you were being asked a question that I asked of children, that your ability to visualize and to imagine is still there, and it's still as powerful as ever as it was in childhood.

In my life, I have held many positions from mother, to teacher, program director, teacher-trainer, professor, and board member (to name a few). The job was always more interesting and fulling the more I allowed myself freedom to express my imagination.  Engagements that invigorate my imagination these days include my hobbies of seamstress, garden-maven, and caring for my two creative and robust granddaughters. I’ll grant there are many mistakes but with imagination, turning mistakes into new creations is satisfying.

Our ability to be imaginative doesn’t have to diminish as we grow older. From the fields of academia, to business, to parenting or teaching, and to the arts, imagination is essential to the emergence of great ideas. Rediscovering our imagination can happen in our relationships with the children and grandchildren we play with, and that may help each new generation change the world. What about you guys? What do you do with your imagination?

Buckminster Fuller on Maria Montessori

Buckminster Fuller, an actualizing genius, knew of the importance of making mistakes, of failure. In our era mistakes and failure are frowned upon, shamed, and even punished (though we could easily show that shaming is a barbaric form of punishment). So few educators sees the value of mistakes, no doubt because of the shaming they endured when making those mistakes as children.

Our guest on podcast 23 is Steven Arnold, Montessori educator, talking about his work with teens. During the conversation he returned time and again to the importance of mistakes. I am sure he would fully endorse Fuller’s words below.

Fuller recognized one of the few actualizing geniuses in education, Maria Montessori. Here’s his tribute:


All children are born geniuses. 9999 out of every 10,000 are swiftly, inadvertently, de-geniused by grown-ups. This happens because human beings are born naked, helpless, and – though superbly equipped cerebrally – utterly lacking in experience, therefore utterly ignorant. Their delicate sensing equipment is, as yet, untried. Born with built-in hunger, thirst, curiosity, the procreative urge, they can only learn what humanity has learned by trial and error – by billions upon billions of errors. Yet humanity is also endowed with self-deceiving pride. All those witnessing the errors of others proclaim that they (the witnesses) could have prevented those errors had they only been consulted. “People should not make mistakes” they mistakenly say. Motivated entirely by love, but also by fear for the futures of the children they love, parents, in their ignorance, act as though they know all the answers and curtail the spontaneous exploratory acts of their children, lest the children make “mistakes.” But genius does its own thinking; it has confidence in its own exploratory findings, in its own intuitions, in the knowledge gained from its own mistakes. Nature has her own gestation rates for evolutionary development. The actions of parents represent the checks and balances of nature’s gestation control. Humanity can evolve healthily only at a given rate. Maria Montessori was fortunately permitted to maintain, sustain, and cultivate her innate genius. Her genius invoked her awareness of the genius inherent in all children. Her intuition and initiative inspired her to discover ways of safeguarding this genius while allaying the ignorant fears of parents. But the way was not always easy. Hers was the difficult frontiering task of genius.

Buckminster Fuller

Sunset, Maine - August 19, 1975

Forward from "Education for Human Development, Understanding Montessori" by Mario M. Montessori, Jr.

Podcast 23 is up and it’s a doozy! Renowned Montessori educator Steven Arnold talks with Ba about the Peace Experiment, a model for a teen sensitive innovative high school. Imagine the freedom to learn in areas of your interest and to keep your own schedule. And that all-important Montessori principle that mistakes are integral to learning, there is only safety and support to explore at the Peace Experiment, so valuable for a high school.  And why “Experiment” and not “school”? Listen and find out.

Steven’s fundamental understanding? "...I want the teenagers to experiment. I want them to feel like this is their world and they can do whatever. I suppose, giving high faith, I trust in the teens..." 




Google Play:

Why Politics Happened This Way--a tribute to Alice Miller

The recent commitment that we have to bring forth the greatness of others, as exemplified by the podcast Meetings with Remarkable Educators, reminded us to call forth the work of a great psychologist who made a profound and lasting impression upon us, Alice Miller. Here she predicts the current state of politics—an inevitable outcome of the poisonous pedagogy.

Alice Miller was a Swiss psychologist and psychoanalyst of Polish-Jewish origin and who suffered the ravages of non-relational parents and the holocaust. She survived, and for more than 40 years engaged children in order to see the effects of parenting and education on their lives. Universally acclaimed for changing the way we approach children, she was, In a word, brilliant, compassionate, and certainly prescient about the future of a world without proper care for children. Listen to these chilling words written around 2005.

  • Poisonous pedagogy is a phrase I use to refer to the kind of parenting and education aimed at making that child into an obedient subject by means of overt or covert coercion, manipulation, and emotional blackmail.

  • There is a good deal that would not exist without "poisonous pedagogy." It would be inconceivable, for example, for politicians mouthing empty cliches to attain the highest positions of power by democratic means. But since voters, who as children would normally have been capable of seeing through these cliches with the aid of their feelings, were specifically forbidden to do so in their early years, they lose this ability as adults. The capacity to experience the strong feelings of childhood and puberty (which are so often stifled by child-rearing methods, beatings, or even drugs) could provide the individual with an important means of orientation with which he or she could easily determine whether politicians are speaking from genuine experience or are merely parroting time-worn platitudes for the sake of manipulating voters. Our whole system of raising and educating children provides the power-hungry with a ready-made railway network they can use to reach the destination of their choice. They need only push the buttons that parents and educators have already installed. By the time we learn to think conceptually, a functioning emotional mechanism is already in place. The nature of that emotional mechanism will determine in many respects precisely how we think, when we finally do.

Hidden Depths

Many listeners have expressed appreciation at the Teaching Story that is embedded in each Podcast episode. Teaching Stories have many interpretations and we have provided Patrons ( with an educational perspective in each newsletter. Alas, there are many more stories than there are newsletters. So we will write posts about Teaching Stories for all who visit this site as well. Of course, Patrons will still receive the newsletter with Expanded Show Notes, Parenting Tips, and Teaching Story Interpretations. along with all other gifts.

The Story (from Episode 21 with John Creger)

Hidden Depths

One day the wise fool was in the market, and saw birds for sale at $500 each. My bird, he thought, which is larger than any of these, is worth far more. The next day he took his pet hen to market. Nobody would offer him more than $50 for it.

Then the wise fool began to shout, “Oh, people. This is a disgrace. Yesterday you were selling only half this size at 10 times the price.”

Someone interrupted him. “You fool. Those were parrots, talking birds. They are worth more because they talk.”

“Fool,” said the wise fool. “Those birds you value only because they can talk. This one, which has wonderful thoughts and yet does not annoy with chatter, you reject.”

The Interpretation (as it pertains to Education)

Talking birds, talking heads, chattering away to meet expectations with little of substance to say is an everyday experience in most schools. Speaking up, doing well on tests--in short performing as expected is prized and leads to rewards.

Parroting information is mistaken for wonderful thoughts. The quiet ones who dwell on a subject are overlooked, especially in classes with more than 20 students. Most teachers are trained to equate verbal-linguistic skills with intelligence and so have minimal ability to connect to students who may have profound insight but lack the socially validated way of bringing those insights forth.

Most people value the external and the display and miss the inner depth.

The Podcast Producer Appears

I have known Demetri for six years, since he was 11 years old. While seeing him only intermittently I have continued a friendship with his dad, Nathan, who is the architect of this website and an enthusiast of the coming podcasts.

Me (upon returning from the conference): I have the recordings. Now to the editing.

Nathan: Are you Ok with that. Seems like a big job and I know you are not the most agile computer user…

Me (gearing up to conquer the editing software): I am ready. I have been studying and playing with Audacity. Seems like I can do it.

Nathan (trying to hide his smile); Uh, OK. But did you know that Demetri loves sound engineering even since he discovered Dub Step?

Me: He’s played the music for me. But I didn’t know it went any further.

Nathan: He’s totally into it. Want me to ask him if we will work with you on Meetings with Remarkable Educators? I think he would dig it.

Me (pretending to ponder): You sure?

Nathan (not trying to hide his smile): Oh yeah!

And so a producer appears. What a blessing! Unbelievable what this young man can do to create quality sound.

And, what a relief. Because, as you might have guessed I am not the most agile with computers…

A serendipity: Demetri has developed an interest in Holistic Education. He says that we need an overview podcast that speak to what is, and what isn’t. I asked him if would join me to create it. He has agreed.


Stay tuned. These podcasts are a’comin…

Post Conference Excitement?

Nine podcasts recorded of a significant cross section of Holistic Educators. So why the ? in the title of this blog?

Editing. Given what I know of editing this task, given my history learning word processing, the existence of this and the next two keyboards are in danger.

At the conference David West, brilliant Indigenous mentor living in Southern Oregon, told the story of making a basket under the guidance of Grandmother. Each step of the process, from getting into the canoe, to the relationship to the tree from which the bark will be taken, to the weaving, to the application of pitch, is done consciously and conscientiously so that the end product achieves the goal—holding water. As I listened I thought of the scintillating recordings and felt some anxiety about editing them well, and I wondered if I could apply this teaching to my editing.

We’ll see. No Grandmother around, though, and limited trial runs, suggest that I will have to find  a new level of attentiveness. In preparation, I have started saving for new keyboards.

But David West, and the other soul-filled educators that I didn’t have the time to record, is the second reason for the ?.  for the excitement I feel to develop Meetings with Remarkable Educators podcasts is tempered by sadness. Not only for missing the opportunity with David West, but also:

  • Dr. Prapapat Niyom of the Arsom Silp Institute of the Arts in Thailand (, and her meaningful Real Life curriculum
  • Prof. Dr. Fred Korthagen of Utrecht University and his critically important work on Core Reflection
  • Min_Young Song & Dea-Hyung Lee and Hyun-Mi Kim revealed their work on Social and Emotional Healing for Teachers in the Republic of Korea (South Korea). Of the many, this excited me tremendously for teachers need completely different support from Teacher Training to Professional Development opportunities. Their four-day immersion retreat for practicing teachers, were it available here, would enliven, enrich, and encourage highly skilled people to engage teaching as a profession.
  • Sunisa Chuencharoensok, Director of Roong Aroon School, in Thailand—See Josette’s FaceBook post

And, of course, many others…

Maybe I will be able to talk with them on Zoom. But, until then, on to editing.

Wish me good fortune (and minimal expense).

From the Holistic Teaching and Learning Conference

I have but a few minutes to write, which is unlike previous conferences where I often wondered what I was doing there and what there was to learn. To be fair, there were many personal connections that were meaningful, though the presentations in the old format of keynote speaker and break out sessions with inadequate time to explore deeply led to the aforementioned free time. I have come to realize that I thrive in person to person interaction.

Not so here. I can only encourage conference leaders to go to the HTLC website and study the schedule. Briefly, venerable elders start each morning with calls for community followed by stories and insights. Then there are interactions with neighbors on important topics. We just finished inquiring into how we can serve and connect with public education and in so doing awaken awareness of  each student, of one another, and of ourselves. The environment drips with meaning, care, and connection.

On to the podcasts. It is a daunting to be new at this and to be in the place with perhaps the most potent potential for allowing  the experiences and insights of holistic educators to all who read this. It is more intimate than I imagined. I rejoice in the personal time I have to explore their backgrounds, motivations, challenges, and (many) idiosyncrasies. If I edit well it should be worthwhile and meaningful for parents and educators. It certainly is so for me.

I have met with Four Arrows, Jack Miller, Tobin Hart, Marni Binder, Sam Crowell, and others. I name those as they have a web presence. Look them up. So interesting!

I have to run. More later.

A Golden Opportunity

From September 15th thru 18th a golden opportunity comes to Ashland, Oregon—The International Holistic Education Conference. So many remarkable educators will be there that I don’t anticipate having much time to sleep. They come from Thailand, Canada, Japan, Denmark, Mexico, and just about every state in America. Specialties abound in language arts, teacher training, parent education (Josette’s presentation), holistic school administration, art, music, curriculum design, pedagogy, evolution of consciousness, children and death (my presentation), project based learning, non-sectarian spirituality, and on and on. Whopee! I am excited.

And as I know many of these educators I will have golden moments of podcasting. Already Paul Freedman of Salmonberry school on Orcas Island, Jack Miller, whose book The Holistic Curriculum remains a standard in the field, Debbie Million, Head of Ingra School in Madison WI, Marcia Osoke, of John Muir Magnet School, Yoshi Nagamura from Japan, and Marni Binder, arts and language arts master, from Toronto have agreed to be on the Podcast. I am sure there will be more to come.

Perhaps, you too will come. If not, then it will be my pleasure to share with you through the Podcasts the remarkable teaching from these remarkable educators. Podcasts to begin in early October.

Meetings with Remarkable Educators

I have name for the coming podcast series: Meetings with Remarkable Educators. What does this title mean? What constitutes a remarkable educator?

Remarkable educators shift paradigms of learning. Their schools call forth greatness in their students. Their pedagogy brings clarity to the way humans learn. Their philosophy of life lends clarity to our own. They present a beacon of light; a way to actualize each of our potential while respecting family, heritage, culture, planet, science, each child, and the (non-sectarian) essence of spirituality. Their schools can found in cities, in woodlands, in farmlands, and in most countries. They understand that meaningful relationships among all the people of the school is the foundation for successful learning. They are remarkable because they leave nothing out; and know there is always something more. Humble, inquisitive, caring, and committed to all life, these remarkable educators are jewels in our communities, our culture.

In short, they are inspired—filled with the breath of Spirit. Naturally they inspire others, including yours truly. Everyone’s aspirations are nurtured as well-being spirals up and up—a natural emergence as breathtaking as it is unpretentious.

This is education as it ought to be, as it is naturally, as a fulfillment of our birthright to self-actualize, to know ourselves as whole and worthwhile.

I am honored to introduce you to Remarkable Educators. Podcast begins in early  October.

Why Podcast

Here I am, 70 years young, free of institutional commitments. I have a well-deserved reputation as a pioneer in holistic child development, as Natural Learning Relationships is being used by educators, inspiring thesis’s and supporting many families and parents. I am in demand as a mentor and as a consultant on all matters family and education. My two grandchildren live next door and are a source of endless delight and learning as are their parents. I am never short of ideas for this blog and for my other, more freewheeling (controversial) blog, I love my wife. I often become absorbed in the beauty of nature.

So why podcast? The technology requires expertise that I am just learning and do not find easy to master. I sort of believe I will be a competent interviewer but early results suggest much polishing needed. Editing requires considerable patience and dexterity.

My answer: Genuine need. There are brilliant holistic educators who know how to bring forth the greatness in students, in teachers, and in parents. They live in schools that call themselves progressive, or holistic, or independent. Their message needs to be heard. In my 30 years in the field I have been fortunate to know many of them. And so the podcast will be their voice, their work, their life. You can be sure their voice is exciting for it takes skill, insight, and courage to strike out from conventional education.  

And striking out from conventional education is what is needed as conventional education has struck out. I won’t produce the litany of failures here. Listen to the podcasts and hear the difference.

Caveat: there are great public school teachers, though not many and often constrained by the school’s stifling infrastructure. And there are independent schools masquerading as progressive. It helps to keep in mind an old Persian maxim: There would be no counterfeit if the real did not exist.

At the risk of offending just about everyone, parenting and education is the absolute preeminent field to actualize well-being for each of us, for our community, society, and planet. There is no field in second place. Somewhere around tenth is racism (including feminism and gender equality) and environmentalism. The need is so prevalent that no one sees it—a classic “the emperor is wearing no clothes” situation.

I will meet you on the podcasts. First edition will be the beginning of October.