The Riddle of the Coins

Good morning at Maths at ALC-NYC.  An aspiring Mathematician joined us this morning and has presented us with a riddle…

You have inherited 8 gold coins.  7 of them are real, and one is fake.  The fake coin is lighter than the real ones.  You conveniently have a scale to measure the weight of the coins.  What is the fewest number of times you can use the scale to find the false coin?

Thanks to Max Baranov for sharing this puzzle with us.  Reply with your answers in the comments.

Love and agility,



Cook n00bs!

Every Friday a beautiful and tasty thing happens at ALC-NYC… cook n00bs!  This offering is presented by @nhoopee, and I can attest to it’s popularity and awesomeness as a regular participant.  This week we made taco pie.  Here are a few photos of the n00bs in action.  Thanks @nhoopee!


With love and agility,



ALC-NYC Summer 2016 Acknowledgements

I am using our reflection/blogging time on the final day of ALC-NYC Summer 2016 to acknowledge these awesome people, without whom this inaugural NYC-based ALF summer facilitation workshop would not have been possible:

@tomis for gracefully transitioning from coherence holder (in order to allow Abby and I to co-plan/hold/facilitate our first ALF training) to program participant, yet powerfully facilitating conversations and breakout groups.

@serenagermany and @pigsfly for providing childcare and awesome student perspectives on ALC-NYC

@drew for his creation-myth animation, story-telling, and map sharing.  Oh, and also for Geoguessr!  We were driving along here and the seasons started cycling… haha.

Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 12.45.26 PM Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 12.45.46 PM

@abram for making time in his current WIP overload, pre-wedding blitz to come and offer his unique perspective on ALCs as a volunteer ALF and self-directed academic.

@douglasawesome for facilitating werewolves, running a spawn point, and helping make the SRB offering possible.

@starwars, @heartabby, @muffinsthecutest, @agilesaylor, @fireballdeath, and Zoe for showing up like a normal school week to support adults at the training in seeing self-directed learning at ALC-NYC in action.

Alex Patz for sharing her awesome, informative, and invaluable perspective as an Agile parent.

@nhoopee for offering a cook n00b session honoring my most prized dessert creation, the Banana 3.2.2 (actual version 1.0.0 – thanks to @timotree for writing the Changelog in Atom)

Yoni and Angela, for running the partner acro workshop in the park.  It was a HUGE hit and inspired a call for more at the ALF Summer 2016 Main Event.

Tim, Julia, Nancy, Jules, Victoria, Sarah, William, Danielle, Katherine, Kalli, who showed up powerfully, authentically, and openly, ready to work, play, learn and share.  We literally could not have done it without you.

Taasha and the dapper gentleman who brought wonderful catered lunches each day- it was such a huge help not to have to prepare lunch for myself (or anyone else) for 2 weeks.

@bear, for graciously sharing his notes on the Archetypes game.  It was a huge success and dare I say one of the most popular offerings =)

@melody for stepping in powerfully to facilitate, co-create, and play with us.  Your training is now complete.  ‘Join us…’ Together we can rid the galaxy of this destructive educational conflict, and hold space for the self-directed learning of all humans.

@abbyo (The Administer, The Contessa, Furiosa, Ms. Frizzle, The Emporer [see above link re: what she has foreseen] ) for co-planning and facilitating a wonderful 2 week training with me.  I am really proud at the space we held and for all we accomplished.  Always all the love, agility, and gratitude to and for you.


With love and agility,



The 5 sharing forms of Gratitudes

This week @abbyo and I co-facilitated the first week of our ALC-NYC summer facilitator training!  I want to acknowledge her for all the planning and logistics-ing that she did to make it all possible, and for her partnership in facilitating.  Also a big shout-out of gratitude is due to @tomis, @drew and @abram for their participation and facilitation this week.

I love the feeling I had Monday morning; that I could walk into the school and wait for the 15ish people to show up without any notes, visual aids, or a concrete plan for an order of topics, workshops, games, etc.  That’s one of the great things about ALF Summer events, in my experience- you can trust that the huge kanban that will act as a schedule will get filled up with juicy topics that are relevant to the needs of the program participants, and that there will always be (way more than) enough to fill the hours of each day.

I’d also like to mark an achievement for myself in this first week of our program… I facilitated the Archetypes Game for the first time at an ALF event!  And what’s more, the participants found a lot of value in it.  If you’re an ALF or ALC network member who isn’t familiar with it, ask me!  Hopefully I can facilitate a game at the 2016 “Main Event” in Charlotte in a few weeks…

reflect that the balance of work and play has felt perfect so far.  I get the sense from the group that we are balancing activities/games of movement (thanks to Yoni and Angela from The Muse for leading the partner acro workshop!) and play with serious, deep conversations about ALC tools, practices, and root philosophies very effectively.  I’ve learned 4-5 new improv games to add to my facilitation toolkit, learned a new way to explain the ALC Network via one of @drew’s awesome maps (upgrade!), fallen asleep during two afternoon sessions.  No, I DO NOT declare failure for doing this!  It’s an indication about how much I trust @abbyo to facilitate and play with the power of our awesome group that I feel comfortable enough to catch a few zZzz.

Finally, I want to clear that I am tired.  Not the frustrated, exhausted, wish-I-could-just-sleep-in-because-it’s-summer-and-I-need-my-summer-to recharge-because-I’m-a-teacher, damnit (!) tired, but the kind that comes with being very present and authentic with people who want to learn how we be, think and do all week.  Now that I’ve written it, I can release it and go home happy tonight, looking forward to a weekend recharge and to learning and playing more next week.


With love and agility,





Talkin’ bout bloggin’

Homage above to my favorite NBA player of all time.  I thought of his famous rant today when @douglasawesome and I were talkin’ about bloggin’ earlier this afternoon.  You can find his thoughts on our ALC-NYC blogging practice here:

Douglas came to me feeling like he didn’t have much juice to blog today.  Writing about his week had become repetitive and boring, he said.  Expecting to feel inspired in a one-hour time window week after week is unreasonable, I said.  Blogging is an important part of our ALC culture, and central to the ALC-NYC student agreement.  Eliminating it altogether might make life easier for @abbyo and I when the final hours of the week hit and we are riding the caffeine wave until the kids leave for the week, but it would mean removing an important part of the way we embody the ‘Agile Root’ of shareable value from our culture.

What if more opportunities existed throughout the week to blog, together?  This would honor our creative flow and rhythm, and address the concern some students at ALC-NYC have about the day feeling too short on Friday (we clean up at 2pm rather than 3pm in preparation for “blogging hour”).  It would also clear up a personal problem for me around our blogging pattern.  I usually end up supporting the kids in blogging by helping them spell, insert pictures and video, or typing as they dictate their stream of consciousness (check out @starwars’s epic post that reached WordPress’s word limit for a blog post that was mostly dictated to me), and end up having little or no time to write my own blog posts.

I’ve had 4-5 posts in drafts for months now… it really isn’t an excuse that I don’t have time on Fridays.  I could easily set aside an hour or two over the weekend and blog then.  But for me, there’s something nice and nourishing about blogging with others.  The group inertia is helpful to my focus.  It is my intention to hold more time throughout the week next year for people to blog.  Hopefully that will honor people’s flow, promote blogging when creativity strikes, and allow us to hold and nourish an important means of sharing the value we create at ALC-NYC every day.

With love and agility,



Crash Course Psych & IAT Tests

Yesterday in InterALC Psych, we learned about prejudice, discrimination, and implicit bias.  I had been waiting for the right moment to suggest taking the Harvard IAT Tests in Psych class, and yesterday it finally came.

After the crash course and ensuing discussion, a few of us took the IAT test on Good/Bad + Self/Other bias.  Here are my results:

Screen Shot 2016-02-23 at 1.12.35 PMSo… I identify more with ‘good’ than ‘bad’…

I don’t necessarily believe in the good/bad dichotomy, especially when it comes to describing the basic nature of a human.  I’ve had a post about Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil in drafts for over a month now, and my notes will directly relate to the concept of good/bad and any implicit bias.  I’ll edit this to add a link when I finally publish it (this Friday, I hope).

A Great Adventure

This week @douglasawesome and I decided to go on a great adventure… into the hinterlands of Agile Badger, our ALC Network Minecraft Server.  It all started when @pigcraft8 wanted to build an item elevator, and told us he needed packed ice to do so.  I thought this would be easy to find, knowing full well there was a snowy spruce biome only steps away from my dark oak tower.  However I was mistaken… it turns out packed ice is found only in the rare Ice Plains Spikes biome.

Equipped with only the bare minimum of tools, food, and two boats apiece, Douglas and I set out to find the rare source of packed ice.  Many Minecraft days later, we had found not one, not two, but THREE villages (one in a desert), and a HUGE mountain we could barely see the peak of through the snow.   We entered through a spruce biome, not knowing what we would find at the summit.  What we found was… a Savannah.  On a mountain top?  I had never seen such a thing.  We immediately set out to build an outpost among the tallest of the “timotrees,” wondering if we would ever return to our respective homes in the cloud-scraping heights of the dark oak tower and the newly erected shanties of Hoboville.  Here is what we built:

2016-02-05_14.57.24 2016-02-05_14.58.17

Notice the “Y” coordinate … I wasn’t kidding when I said we found a HUGE mountain peak.  Our plan is to abandon our outpost among the trees to continue the search for packed ice… check out @douglasawesome’s captians log for more details.



Star Wars Psychology: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Today we continued discussing The Dark Side of the Mind.  We warmed up with a Force Awakens video with a theory about Rey as Palpatine’s granddaughter… pretty thin if you ask us.

After some more theory-based talk about Snoke, we looked at the differences between Sith and Jedi training as it relates to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs …


Self-actualization, which we agreed is part of ALC culture, is described in Dark Side of the Mind as “turning possibilities into realities.”  This is what self-directed learning makes possible, through intention-setting, achievement, and reflection.

We also discussed the way the Sith train vs the Jedi.  @jacobcb explained that historically, young beings sensitive to the dark side of the force were taken to the world of Korriban, a harsh environment full of deadly creatures, where they would be trained as Sith.  It seems that their masters believed the young trainees would become stronger by being denied the needs in the first three levels of the pyramid.

The Jedi, conversely, seem to embrace the hierarchy at all levels.  Though it is well documented that attachment is forbidden to them, they are encouraged to love all life as a representation of the Force.  Belonging can be understood as being a part of the Force and thus connected to all beings, or on a more finite level as a belonging to the Jedi Order.  Esteem shows up in the process of being named a Jedi Knight after a period as a padawan, and then for some, being named to the Jedi Council.  

We closed our discussion with a list of Jedi values/characteristics that Maslow found as commonalities in emotionally healthy people.  They include:

-An unbiased view of reality

-Acceptance of themselves and others

-Simplicity (i.e. owning very few possessions)

-Social interest

-Self-reliance for their own needs

-Focus on problems outside themselves

-Profound personal relations

-Creativity (though this one seems questionable, some of the ways Obi-Wan and Anakin got out of tight situations in the prequels confirm this)

-Great tolerance


What do you think, ALC community?  Are these values one that relate to the roots of our Agile Tree?

***Big thanks to @timotree, @kingthanos, @jacobcb, and @douglasawesome for joining Star Wars Psych today!

Star Wars: The Force Awakens [Spoiler Jihad-free] Review

Hello Agilites!

Today I am tired, but also…

…the first time I saw Episodes IV, V, and VI.  Last night, after waiting 4.5 hours (only 2 of which I was expecting- see this vlog by @douglasawesome for more info), I finally saw Episode VII- and my oh my was it worth it.

First of all, I need to give big props to Disney and J.J. Abrams (talk about something I never thought I’d be saying, @jacobcb) for staying true to the story architecture of the original films (IV, V, VI).  They really blew the prequels out of the water in many ways, but I especially appreciated the way old characters and themes were interwoven with the advanced effects and shiny new characters.  For example, anyone familiar with this scene will feel some measure of deja vu during a similar scene in The Force Awakens.  Even the planets featured in the film are distinctly reminiscent of those visited during the first six episodes, without actually being the same worlds.

There is also a fair bit of humor sprinkled throughout the film, which is a nice break from what feels at times like a darker side (yuk yuk) of the Star Wars Tri-Triologies.  It is clear that J.J. Abrams means to blur the distinction between light and dark, and that the Force will manifest itself in new and interesting ways in episodes VII, VIII and IX.

I chose, wisely I think, not to see the film in 3D.  I may return to the theaters to see it again in IMAX 3D, but I can happily report that the visuals in Episode VII are stunning.  The landscapes, special effects, green-screen characters, space battles, and of course, lightsaber duels, were all beautifully done.  Visually, I give the movie an ‘A.’

I really cannot wait for everyone at ALC-NYC to see this film, because I think it will provide juicy discussion topics for “Star Wars Philosophy.”  The conflict, ideology, and morality embedded in the film left me waxing philosophic on my train ride home.  I could feel the force, flowing through meas I recalled some of the more emotionally charged scenes.

On my personal film rating scale, which assigns value based on how much I would be willing to pay for a ticket, firmly entrenches The Force Awakens as one of the best films I’ve ever seen, coming in at a value of $50/ticket.  For reference, when I first saw Revenge of the Sith in theaters, I gave it $25.

Go see it, ASAP. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.