Thursday, December 12, 2013


Bill Coperthwaite with students of Clear Spring School, 2002
Each year Bill Coperthwaite would make calendars as a fundraising project for his Yurt Foundation. They were illustrated with his own pen and ink renderings of yurt designs, and contained meaningful quotations relevant to a simple, intentional life.

This year, I sent in my check about a week or so before Bill was involved in his fatal car crash, so I was not sure it would arrive. It did today. My address on the envelope and his return address were inscribed in his own hand, and the post-it note inside wished me well. But the envelope also included an obituary note, telling me it was posted by friends.

It was such a sweet and sad thing to get this calendar in today's mail. I will look at it each month and cherish the threads of friendship that bring those of like mind into the company of each other. The quote for February from William Ellery Channing, famous Unitarian minister is as follows:
My Symphony

To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not rich; to study hard, think quietly, talk gently, act frankly; to listen to the stars and the birds, to babes and sages, with an open heart, to bear all cheerfully, do all bravely, await occasions, hurry never; in a word to let the spiritual unbidden and unconscious grow up through the common. -- Channing
I cannot think of a more fitting turn of phrase than these words to summarize the ambitions of a man who lived life to the full, and yet will be missed.

Map of the flow inside the middle brain
You might like this article describing how the brain likes surprises. Neuroscience is busily mapping the brain, learning about the relationship between its various parts. Much of this study can illuminate our understanding of how the hands engage the mind, and bring the whole body to attention in learning. If you were to observe a classroom full of kids and measure them on a scale used to measure human depression, both when the teacher is present, and when the teacher steps out of the room for a few minutes, you might see the difference. This is not to suggest that kids be left on their own, but that they should be offered learning opportunities in schools and not depression. You might be interested in the term salience, or saliency which has to do with noting when things are markedly different from normal, thus eliciting a state of surprise and wakefulness, in the Striatum and Nucleus Accumben. Educational Psychologist Jerome Bruner called this state, in which the whole body is awakened to a state of learning, "Effective Surprise." It helps to explain why doing the exact same thing over and over again doesn't exactly constitute real learning.

Make, fix and create...

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