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The Brain Lab
Saturday, May 07, 2005

This afternoon Claudia L'Amoreaux and Greg Alter held an open house at their new facility for BrainLab. Despite the name, the lab had no bubbling vats with disembodied brains inside. No electrodes. No monsters. Quite the contrary, Claudia and Greg are very upbeat pioneers in learning. Claudia conducts learning conversations with troubled children when she's not studying Maturana and Pask or working on her documentaries about second-order cybernetics. Greg is a Ph.D. psychologist and authority on bi0-feedback.


Says Greg, "All biofeedback is a 'mind mirror,' a reflection of the combined efforts of the physical connectivity of the brain to the rest of the nervous system, with the more abstract qualities of the "mind." Many forms of brain biofeedback actually allow us to observe different categories of brain activity which have amazing rhythmic and visual beauty."


Of coaching, Claudia says, "The learning coach creates a supportive relationship with the young person that facilitates reflection, critical thinking, motivation and a sense of confidence and well-being. The Learning Conversation braids together three strands of dialogue as needed...the central process dialogue that focuses on the how of learning, a support dialogue that coaches the young person through the more difficult moments brought on by changing how they do things, and an evaluative dialogue that helps the student learn how to measure and evaluate her/his success."

Consider the role conversations play in your life. Recall a few conversations that led to life-changing decisions. Think about conversations you had last week in the context of your work. Bring to mind conversations you've had recently with family and friends. What books, papers, magazines, blogs do you read? What are the conversations you're engaged in with their authors? When was the last time you traveled somewhere you'd never been before? Imagine your experiences there as one extended conversation with the new terrain and its inhabitants.

"We learn by conversing with ourselves, with others and with the world around us."

Laurie Thomas & Sheila Harrie-Augstein,
Learning Conversations

Check the Center's Resource List. Ellen Langer, David Bohm, Meg Wheatley, John Adams, Howard Gardner, Mihaly Csikzentmihalyi... every one of an optimist, seeking the good in everyone and everything. This gives a hint of what Claudia and Greg envision. They help children succeed. Schools try to "cure" learning differences. Greg and Claudia de-stigmatize them and focus on opportunity. If I had a kid experiencing trouble in school, I know which route I'd prefer.

Good luck, amigos.


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