I am lucky on three counts that the following books were ever written. One, I worked at a university that valued book writing and understood a book sometimes takes years to write. Two, Mony Cunningham and David Wood at Wood N Barnes took a chance on my first book, The Leader Who is Hardly Known, and from that point on, worked closely with me to identify a market for the kinds of things I wanted to write. Three, my wife and daughter, Manyu and Clare, understood how important writing was to me and accepted that I would hide out in coffee shops to write for hours on end.
The Leader Who is Hardly Known: The Art of Self-Less Teaching in the Chinese Tradition. (2003, revised 2014)
“This is a brilliant piece of writing.” Dan Garvey, former President of Prescott College
I am going to use this space to acknowledge the influence of Richard Brautigan in the naming of this book. I’ve never told anyone this before, although some readers who were around in the 1960s and 70s probably figured it out on their own. One of my favorite books during that time was Brautigan’s Trout Fishing in America. In the book, “Trout Fishing in America” was both a character in the book and the actual act of fishing. As I began to write anecdotes about a teacher whose effectiveness is based upon directing attention away from himself, I wanted to give him a name that reflected his philosophy of education. I tried a couple of Chinese names to suggest a Taoist perspective, but as the stories were based on events that really happened to me, I could never picture the guy as Asian. Eventually I realized that if Brautigan could name his character “Trout Fishing in America,” I could call mine “The Leader Who is Hardly Known.” (Wood N Barnes, 202 pp)
The Processing Pinnacle: An Educator’s Guide to Better Processing (2006, revised 2012)
“It’s rare when a teacher requires you to buy a book for a class and you, number one, read it and, number two, enjoy it.” Anonymous reviewer on Amazon
When I taught experiential education at the university, students were largely a captured audience, and I made sure that they were introduced to both the theory and practice of processing/debriefing. When Dan Miller, Buzz Bocher, and I taught the same subject at workshops and training sessions away from the university, the theory portion did not always go as well. Participants often wanted a cookbook of practical techniques for effective processing, but did not always want to discuss the theory behind the techniques. Dan, Buzz, and I thought that if the theory was put in book form, practitioners who were not interested in it at a workshop might read a book on the topic once they’d used and had time to reflect on the practical techniques. (Wood N Barnes, 216 pp)
Rediscovering Dewey: A Reflection on Independent Thinking (2011)
“Simpson covers both the breadth and depth of John Dewey and repackages his most essential and relevant ideas into a readable and approachable book… The result is an exceptional book.” Paul J Hutchinson, Boston University
Like most experiential educators, I knew a little bit about John Dewey, having read Experience and Education and Democracy and Education. When I decided to learn more and I dove into the volumes and volumes that make up Dewey’s complete works, I realized how little of his insights about education I actually understood. He really believed education was the one institution that could maintain a healthy democracy. In Rediscovering Dewey, I tried to summarize three years of intense research of Dewey’s writings and contemporary commentaries (both pro and con) on Dewey’s writings. The results are a clear indication that Dewey’s ideas are perhaps more relevant today than when he wrote about them. (Wood N Barnes, 224 pp)
The Chiji Guidebook: A Collection of Experiential Activities and Ideas for Using Chiji Cards (2010)
Cavert and Simpson contribute to the field of experiential education by inviting readers to facilitate in ways that blur traditional lines between experience and processing.” Blair Nesbitt, Trent University
Many years ago I helped to create Chiji Processing Cards, but it had never occurred to me to write a book about the many ways to use the Cards. When Chris Cavert, a fellow author at Wood N Barnes Publishing, suggested that we cowrite a book about Chiji Cards, I jumped at the opportunity. Chris is an expert at writing experiential education activity books, and I knew that I would learn a lot by collaborating with him. The result is instructions for twenty-five different ways to use Chiji Processing Cards. This book is very different from anything else I’ve ever written, but for experiential educators who use Chiji Cards, The Chiji Guidebook is a useful reference book.
Chiji is a Chinese word that means “key moment,” but within the definition is both the moment itself and the person’s reaction to that moment. (Wood N Barnes, 112 pp)