Saturday, September 19, 2009

Casting, occasionally, our anchor in the ocean of time

In recent days, the Learning Development Institute has started organizing so-called Lakeside Conversations. These dialogic events are being hosted by Lya and Jan Visser on behalf of the Institute. Following is a brief description of what these conversations entail.

Here is what we have in mind with the Lakeside Conversations.

The Learning Development Institute has, over the ten years of its existence, organized transdisciplinary dialogue that usually involved groups of participants of several tens to more than a hundred people at a time. Examples are the debates on the Meaning of Learning (MOL), those around the Book of Problems (BOP) or concerning the Building of the Scientific Mind (BtSM). Traces of these past events can be found in various locations on the Web site of the Learning Development Institute. On an on-and-off basis, we have also opened our house to receive guests from the LDI community or sympathetic to LDI's mission and had very interesting conversations with them. Based on that valuable experience, we have now decided to become more proactive in this area and, still on an ad hoc basis, wish to host, whenever the opportunity arises, conversations about things that matter at one of the places where we regularly live in southern France and The Netherlands, or even where we may be traveling, such as in South Florida.

These events are called Lakeside Conversations or, in French, Conversations au bord du lac, not only because of the setting of where we spend part of our time in the Low Countries, literally in the immediate vicinity of a small lake, called Lingemeer (Lake Linge), but also inspired by the opening lines of a poem written in 1820 by Alphonse de Lamartine.

And so, driven on ceaselessly toward
new shores, carried beyond return into eternal
darkness, shall we never cast anchor for a
single day in the ocean of time?

Click here for the full translation of this beautiful poem.

We are glad that these localized meetings have a much smaller ecological footprint than the larger ones we will continue to organize from time to time.

This is how it works.

Typically, these events take place around dishes and glasses whose delicious, refreshing and uplifting contents we share as much as the thoughts, ideas and experiences we bring to the table. While, by nature of these events, participation is by invitation, anyone is welcome to indicate their interest in participating by writing to us. In other words, if you are part of the LDI community, i.e., if you have ever seriously collaborated with us on implementing LDI's mission, don't hesitate to be in touch if you happen to be in or to be traveling to The Netherlands or France or any of those multiple other places where we may be, because we stay never very long anywhere. We shall be happy to host you, as many of you have experienced in the past, and invite, whenever possible, like minded spirits to cast their anchor at the same place, so that we can all share thoughts, food and drinks. In the spirit of social networking, those invited are welcome to suggests others whom they feel should join the party. This may include joining at a distance via some form of teleconferencing, such as by using Skype video or audio, via telephone, or employing a video link using the H.323 standard.

Here is what we like the Lakeside Conversations to focus on.

We feel that there is no shortage of issues that serve as food for thought. Some of them may be related to LDI's current work in the areas of Building the Scientific Mind (BtSM) and Learning for Sustainable Futures (LfSF). However, we are naturally also open to any suggestions. Over time, we assume some workable process will emerge to ensure that matters of discussion reflect the interests of the community of those who participate in these conversations, while at the same time serving to propel LDI's work forward. They may well turn out to fall in line with Christopher Phillips's ideas of the Socrates Café.

Just as a start, during the past three weeks we had conversations about the development of Basic Books in Science for the Life Sciences (Sept 2, 2009); Collective Intelligence (Sept 13, 2009); and Learning for Sustainable Futures (Sept 17, 2009). No more than a start, but the success of these initial Lakeside Conversations and the enthusiasm they generated among those who participated, encourages us to continue to develop this model further.

To stay tuned join the Facebook page of the Learning Development Institute, which will announce forthcoming events whenever they are being planned long enough in advance, or check out regularly the Web site of the Learning Development Institute.