From Stone to Stone across the Unknown Sea

John challenges conventional thinking, exploring the concept of inclusion through the lens of connectivity operating at the level of metaphor, imagination and empathy. He sees these connective forces as wellsprings of creativity and drivers of the “inclusionary impulse in our thinking”. He also shares a set of practices for putting these connective forces to work as pedagogical tools aimed at catalyzing new perspectives and greater coherence across the disciplines.

John J. Cimino, Jr.

October 13, 2015

The working principles, techniques and mental models advanced here are first and foremost practitioner perspectives based on more than forty years of field practice and context driven innovations in the arts and sciences, K-12 learning, higher education, executive education, leadership development and global affairs. Imagination is understood to be a groundworks capacity of our neuroanatomy and nature as human beings animating virtually every enterprise of our daily life in proportion to the value we attribute to its activity. “As a Man is, so he sees. As the Eye is formed, such are its Powers”, says the poet, William Blake (Erdman & Bloom, 1982). Cultivation of the imagination is seen to be the work of a lifetime and the clear objective of any meaningful education.

When art works, play’s the thing
Let’s play. Let’s agree to think playfully about the concept of “inclusion”. Literally, figuratively and with as much imagination as we can muster, let’s endeavor to apply this concept experimentally to a raft of strategies and thought processes that concern us as educators. Einstein (1949) called such ventures “thought experiments” and I am more than happy to follow his lead. Our universe will be an interior one, however, though no less populated with stars, with darkness
and with light. We will seek the cohering forces in this universe, the connective inclinations which facilitate a unified and therefore more inclusive perspective amid the myriad and diverse manifestations of detail. As in the physical universe, these deeply basic concerns are likely to be found operating quietly in the shadows, nearly invisible amidst the more showy brilliances which catch the light and, therefore, our minds with greater frequency and ease. Indeed, most of our
research and expertise of late has projected us in precisely the opposite direction toward ever more refined and differentiated approaches to teaching and learning. My hope for us here is to grasp again and perhaps more deeply than before the quiet integrators both practical and principled that enable the center to hold as we reach out to learners of every brilliance, wavelength and potential.

A Quick Rant on ‘Inclusion’
Inclusion begins with a recognition of distinction, difference, otherness then moves toward a deliberate calling together into collective embrace or community; a process of building connections (“only connect” said Bateson (1973) in his Steps to an Ecology of Mind); enlarging the field of attentiveness, meaning and identity; looking with purpose to the periphery for new ideas, outliers and innovation so as to increase the value proposition of one’s endeavors; seeking the underlying unifiers across a diverse array of phenomena; the pursuit of wholeness; Niels Bohr’s (1934) principle of complementarity which encompasses apparent opposites thereby revealing greater truths (“the opposite of a small truth is a falsehood, the opposite a great truth is another great truth”); the complement to distinction and differentiation, that is, unity and
integration; love, empathy, universe.

Finding Beauty in a Fractured World

Music, Leadership and the Inner Work of Art