Episode 5: Philip Snow Gang

Philip Snow Gang shares some of the golden threads from his lifelong journey as a teacher and philosopher. Find this episode on iTunes and subscribe to receive future episodes! Read the full transcript of Episode 5 here. 

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Phil speaking with Ba Luvmour over lunch.

Phil speaking with Ba Luvmour over lunch.

Phil Gang started as an engineer working for big corporations. Wanting something for his own children, he turned to Montessori and found his calling. Phil's work focuses on an educational approach and pedagogy that allows children to self-reflect, to wonder, and to appreciate the cosmos through nature. Phil has worked in holistic education for over 45 years, founding institutions ranging from Montessori schools to graduate programs.
We are so excited to share his interview with you.

 

  • Program Director and Academic Dean at The Institute for Educational Studies (TIES)
  • 2016 Film: To Educate Eco-Sapines
  • Author of Rethinking Education and Conscious Education.

Spirituality and Holistic Education

We believe spirituality is integral to Holistic Education. For many, however, spirituality is either consigned to religion or ignored as irrelevant to education. The question naturally arises: Is it possible to include a secular, non-sectarian spirituality in education? And, as spirituality resists exact definition, how can we approach it and bring it into education?

Guests of Meetings with Remarkable Educators tackle these questions directly. Here is a brief sampling of insights that emerged during recording.

Tobin Hart, professor of psychology at West Georgia University, focuses on the challenges of bringing spirituality to education. His interview is a treasure chest of understanding. A brief excerpt:

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It is so tricky, isn’t it [to bring spirituality and education together]. I mean, in a largely secular world to be able to talk about that. I think the thing though that is really common, and that folks can pretty easily get is that we have both moments, and feelings, and also values that are deeply meaningful…. And particularly when there's a spirituality that's really about things like authenticity, and individuality, and creative expression, and then there's a part of a spirituality that's also about interconnection, and receiving, and surrender and that kind of thing.

Tobin goes on to talk about “embodied spirituality,” and how that can be actualized in classrooms for all ages.

Josette and I have had the honor to facilitate Rites of Passage for children, adults, and whole families. We have always wished that they become incorporated in schools. Thankfully, Rachel Kessler led the way with the Mysteries program for high school students in New York City. Rachel has passed away, so you can imagine our delight in finding Shauna Sorce and her work with middle school children and Rites of Passage. She sees this a way to bring spirituality to education. In the interview, she specifies why she does it:

I'm doing it because I didn't have a Rite of Passage as a teenager. I had this deep, heartfelt longing for a mentor or a guide…somebody that I could trust, and put my faith in, and believe in and go to 100%. And I didn't have that… I longed for some kind of an initiation…and a wise elder to guide me. And for lack of having that soul in me nurtured through school, or through home, I sought it out on my own, and it wasn't always in the safest or positive, nurturing ways.

Marni Binder, professor and educator of young children, spent 23 years teaching before she “realized something was missing.” Although she was already profoundly active in social justice, loved by her students, and secure in her profession, she nevertheless experienced an extraordinary transformation. Here’s a brief anecdote from her interview describing a moment of realization:

I remember being in a meeting with my primary teachers and our Ministry of Education in Ontario in Canada stated that we have to teach the whole child. I thought, "Wait a minute." When I asked people if they could tell me, what they thought that meant? Really what they were talking about was integrating. They were talking about some of the domains, but the spirit of the child was missing. And so that to me, that piece of identity and soul, and who that child is, which is so wrapped up in the spirituality of that child, that was the missing piece.

She continues on to describe how she changed her practice based on this insight.

I could go on and on. There’s Jack Miller bringing meditative practices to teachers in training in a way that has influenced literally thousands of educators. And Paul Freedman speaking of spirituality as naturally emerging in children when the school creates the proper nurturing environment. In short, every interview contains insights, practical suggestions, real life stories, and appreciation for integrating spirituality and education.

We look forward to sharing these with you, and for your feedback on these ideas. Meetings with Remarkable Educators is about connection and community, which is vital to our inquiry and appreciation of spirituality in education. We wish you our very best.

- Ba Luvmour

To download episodes of the podcast, visit us on iTunes. Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to learn more about Holistic Education and stay updated on our project.

Episode 4: Paul Freedman

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Paul Freedman embodies holistic and progressive education in a way that few do. He is the founder, head administrator and a classroom educator at the Salmonberry School on Orcas Island, Washington, as well as the founder of the Holistic Education Initiative. His work blends warmth and enthusiasm with a profound knowledge of the whole child. Mention Paul’s name and many have a smile and a story. Visit our website to listen to Paul speak about his work with children and to find links to iTunes, Soundcloud, Google Play and more resources on holistic education.

Find this episode on iTunes and subscribe to receive future episodes! Find a full transcript of Episode 4 here.

Some additional links for those interested in Paul's work:

The Salmonberry School

The Holistic Education Initiative

Deep Education: Re-visioning Teaching and Learning for today, Paul Freedman's TEDxOrcasIsland talk

Episode 1: Marni Binder

Episode 1: Marni is that rare combination of wisdom and energy that many naturally gravitate towards. Dedication, love of children, and commitment to the life on the planet ring throughout this upbeat, informative interview. This podcast highlights:

  • Art Spiritualty and Elementary School Students
  • How holistic teaching practices have contributed to her self-knowledge.
  • Insights to help others transition to Holistic Education

Find this episode on iTunes and subscribe to receive future episodes!

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Episode 2: Demetri Young

High school senior Demetri is the sound engineer for Meetings with Remarkable Educators. He became interested in Holistic Education when he compared it with his life in public school. We were chatting while editing and it turned into a spirited inquiry that we each enjoyed. So we did a Podcast as Demetri insisted that many listeners would not be familiar with Holistic Education. This podcast highlights:

  • The principles and practices of Holistic Education
  • The importance of relationship for learning
  • The importance of meaning relevance in curriculum

Link to transcript

Episode 3: Jack Miller

Episode 3 features Jack Miller, a professor of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at University of Toronto. Considered by many to be the most prominent voice in holistic education, Jack Miller’s work has helped spread holistic practices to countries around the world. In this podcast, Jack and host Ba Luvmour renew their long acquaintanceship, sharing laughter and insight. This episode's highlights include:

  • Jack's success in bringing self-reflective, non-sectarian, spiritual practice to Holistic Education Teacher Training.
  • How life in the frozen North leads to Holistic Education insights.
  • How personal tragedy leads to great creativity.

Find this episode on iTunes and subscribe to receive future episodes!

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Jack Miller is a professor of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at University of Toronto. Learn more about his research.

Jack has recently given talks in Oslo and Bangkok on Holistic Education. He is currently co-editing the International Handbook on Holistic Education (Routledge). Check out Jack's Amazon author page here.

His most recent book: Love and Compassion: Exploring their Role in Education. Love and Compassion is both a practical and conceptual work, and will interest those involved in the study and practise of holistic and contemplative education. In addition to the seven dimensions of love, Miller’s evaluation includes nonviolent action, the love of beauty, and how they are crucial to the practise of teaching.

Full transcript of Episode 3.

The Secret of Their Happiness

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As you might expect, Holistic Educators face many challenges in today’s complex educational environment. Yet I didn’t encounter folks stressed or pessimistic about their efforts, their schools, or their future. So where did all the joy and laughter come from during these interviews? Even though we explored many of the challenges, I walked away from each recording feeling light, alive, and unreasonably happy.

So as I listened to the recordings of our conversations while editing, I selected comments that might reveal the secret to the joy that they shared. In the end I believe I caught a glimpse of the secret.

Debbie Millon and Marni Binder told of knowing that something was missing and that something *needed to be found. They went back to school, sought Holistic Education colleagues, risked money and job status and seniority. I find it compellingly interesting that their fields of engagement are so different. Debbie is Head of School at Wingra; Marnie is both a professor at Ryerson University and teaches art through holistic practices.

That diversity of interest and expression can be seen everywhere in Holistic Education. Most see the importance of parents and parenting. Our very own Josette has taken this as her vocation. Like Debbie and Marni, she knew she had to reshape the understanding of the possibilities in parenting.  Amazingly, parents who engage holistic child development can access greater cognitive and emotional understanding. The surprise: beyond that, they can also access wisdom. Wisdom-based relationships in families—amazing.

There there’s Jack Miller telling us of his 12 years working with students and administrators in the frozen north of Canada as a laboratory in which the need and possibility of Holistic Education appeared. Phil Gang credits the inspiration and much of the material for his film Educating Eco-Sapiens with creative revelations that came to him as he grieved the passing of his adored wife.

As for me, this sense of knowledge and its attendant joy have been in my bones for the whole of my life. Circumstances eroded the barriers; expression instantly followed.  

This is just a taste of some of the educators you will meet when listening to Meetings with Remarkable Educators.

And the secret? I guess my italics have given it away. There is great joy in connecting to a feeling of deeper knowledge of what is needed. That joy somehow includes a willingness to engage challenges as opportunities and the courage to fully live life.

Who the Heck Are Ba and Josette Luvmour?

At this point you may be wondering: Who the heck are Ba and Josette Luvmour….and why should we care?

Josette and Ba Luvmour have lived and worked together since 1984. They are each educators who later started several Holistic education schools, a holistic learning center for families and children, and many whole-family immersion programs (in both California and Oregon).  Teachers of children and parents, they are also teachers of other teachers (undergrad and graduate master’s students)—many of whom went on to start their own schools in the USA and Canada using Natural Learning Relationships child development and holistic approaches in their teaching practice.

Two energies born into different physical lives, they each began their particular journeys learning and preparing through diverse experiences. Their life paths intersected to become a third entity—a loving relationship. Continuing together, knowledge and wisdom availed themselves through life experiences, reflection, meditation, and spiritual connection. Their life’s work emerged weaving in and out of a joint venture.

Together, Josette Luvmour, PhD and Ba Luvmour, MA co-created and developed Natural Learning Relationships (NLR) – a holistic understanding of child development that supports optimal well-being in children and families. NLR was the basis and philosophical foundation of the schools, learning center, programs they founded, and in their writings. They created and executed Rites of Passage programs for youth that incorporate developmental sensitivity and whole family transitions. Moreover, they founded two non-profit organizations which have been dedicated to awaking the greatness in humanity since 1985. They built a 35 acre retreat center and school in Northern California, before moving to Portland, Oregon in 2003.

They each have extensive independent school experience from all vantage points: as parents, program directors, facilitators and teachers, administrators, teacher-training courses and on-site support, parent-educators, founders of learning centers and schools, and board members (e.g., vice-president and board secretary).

In addition to publishing six books together that focus on building positive relationships with children, their writing has been published in NW Kids Magazine, ENCOUNTER: Education for meaning and social justice, Paths of Learning, Journal of Adult Development, Journal of Humanistic Psychology, Parenting Matters, Family Post, Holistic Education Review, Mothering Magazine, and Naturopathic Doctor News, and other popular magazines and publications.

Josette received her doctorate in human development in 2009. She is a writer, and consultant in human development, educator, and public speaker. She specializes in how adult and child develop together, and adult transformational learning.

Ba with his granddaughter, Naomi.

Ba with his granddaughter, Naomi.

Ba is a master educator with an MA in psychology and education. He has dedicated his life to discovering how to restore and deepen optimal well-being in society and the world. He is a mentor to professionals in all matters relating to children, families, and education, meditation facilitator, family consultant, educator, writer, and podcast host about holistic education.

Josette and Ba are continually inspired by all those who learn with children and Grow Together to access greater self-knowledge and ultimately access wisdom. Among these can be counted other remarkable educators (as featured in their podcasts)—as well as parents at the schools they started and worked in, other teachers who have incorporated Natural Learning Relationships into the way they now teach in other school settings, and their colleagues.

Josette and Ba live and work together in Portland, Oregon. They feel graced to reside near their children and grandchildren with whom they enjoy close relationships.

 

Introducing "Meetings with Remarkable Educators"

It is a great pleasure to present the podcast Meetings with Remarkable Educators. My wife, Josette, and I have always had a deep commitment to children, to the evolution of consciousness, and to education that brings forth success in every endeavor of life—academic, social, career, relationship, emotional competence, relational confidence, and greater knowledge of self and our world. We are proud to announce our latest expression…the launch of Meetings with Remarkable Educators in January 2018 that will showcase the inspiring life work of experts who are committed to holistic education.

Each episode of MWRE will treat you to an in-depth conversation between me, Ba Luvmour, and leaders in the field of holistic education. My lifelong passion is education and conscientious relationships with children. These are the stories and big ideas that often get missed in the crush of the unrelenting one-size-fits-all educational approaches. Episodes highlight one remarkable educator’s life’s work and personal inspiration. The entire series of bi-monthly podcasts is meant to be a resource, a guide, and an inspiration that we hope will become a useful and integral part of your life.

We are honored to introduce you to remarkable educators such as Dr. Tobin Hart, author, teacher, and co-founder of the Childspirit Institute, dedicated to understanding and nurturing the spiritual world of children; Dr. Jack Miller, leading practitioner and teacher trainer in Holistic education; Philip Snow Gang, creator the Film: To Educate Eco-Sapines; Paul Freedman, Co-Director of the Holistic Education Initiative; Marni Binder, creative artist and teaching chair in early childhood studies — to name just a few. We trust you will find every one of them worthy of your time and attention.

These 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. These educators understand that meaningful relationships among all the people within any school (teachers, administrators, parents, and students) are the foundation for successful learning. They are remarkable because they leave nothing out; and know there is always something greater. Humble, inquisitive, caring, and committed to all life, these remarkable educators are jewels in our communities and in our culture. In short, meaningful educators are inspired people who inspire others. Their aspiration is for well-being to emerge everywhere and spiral up and up—a natural emergence as breathtaking as it is unpretentious. Academic excellence blossoms; social and emotional development ripens.

We hope these podcasts act as an important convergence of voices in this field and a central hub of an emerging community, connecting and inspiring parents, academics, and educators. Our excitement to embark on this journey with you is increasing as our 2018 launch date approaches. We invite you to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Patreon to receive updates on the podcast’s launch and to participate in giveaways of exclusive materials, eBooks, posters, personal connection, and more.

This is education as it ought to be—a natural fulfillment of our birthright to self-actualize, to know ourselves as whole and worthwhile in every creative endeavor engaged. Wisdom cannot be taught but it can be inspired. The remarkable educators in these podcasts offer keys to connection with children in such a way that each student develops personal integrity, authenticity, and dignity to hold themselves and others with respect, honesty, and wholeness—and to access wisdom. No other educational approach is as relevant to meet the needs of today’s troubled world—for each student to access purpose and personal fulfillment in a meaningful and satisfying future.

Our hope is to inspire and ignite your heart’s passion to invite meaningful relationships with the children in your life. We look forward to your participation and are grateful for your interaction with us going forward. Stay tuned for updates and episodes in the near future!