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Come Fly with Me: ClickerExpo 2018 Courses that Expand Your World

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On a 3.5-hour plane ride from Denver to Boston, I read. When was the last time you read for 3.5 hours straight? There was no wifi—just me and my unread copies of The New Yorker. Except for the noise of the engines and the Lilliputian seat dimensions, it was the perfect environment to dig in. (Okay, yes, I fell asleep for some of the time, but only for 15 minutes or so!)

One magazine article I read laid out the case for a model of cancer-treatment research based on altering the environment a cell thrives in, not just the cell. Put another way, the thesis was that cancer research has been, primarily and perhaps short-sightedly, focused on the seed and ignoring the soil it lives in. Another article explored in great depth what might have been lost when we gained “civilization.” It challenged the accepted wisdom of progress and the accepted history that life before civilization was, as Thomas Hobbes wrote, “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”

Granted, I just gave you the abridged version of these articles, but I think you get the gist. I’m a junkie for counterintuitive thinking and ideas that enhance understanding of the world around us.

I’ve been reading The New Yorker for about 15 years, the same number of years that we’ve held ClickerExpo. The ClickerExpo program is carefully curated to bring you the best thinking, practices, and protocols in behavior training. The result? Courses that change your worldview, are both mind-blowing and super-relevant at the same time, and that are, like The New Yorker pieces, often counterintuitive.

Below are six courses offered at ClickerExpo 2018 that I think you won’t want to miss. Go ahead and register and then fasten your seatbelt! We’re going to fly.

P.S. At the end of the flight, I felt great. Better than great, actually, which was a small miracle given my cramped space. I had my worldview expanded. That sort of self expansion, as anyone attending ClickerExpo knows, is reinforcing. There was enough reinforcement that I barely noticed the punishing seat!

Learning is the heartbeat of the world: The Learning Planet with Susan Friedman
How wide and deep do the laws of learning go? We know that they apply to canines, kids, crustaceans, avians, and so on. But do they apply at a macro level, with the earth itself, and at the micro level, with our genes? Learning is at work on scales you have never considered!


The value of free: Free Cookies? Non-Contingent Reinforcement for Frustration with Sarah Owings
Ignore unwanted behavior. Mark and reinforce only desired behavior. These statements are both bedrock principles of training practice. Would you ever train by providing reinforcement systematically that was NOT contingent on desired behavior? Maybe you should! Examine the behavioral power of free in this Session.

A is for Arousal. S is for... Science: Arousal: Science, not Sex with Lindsay Wood Brown 

There are words so common in the language of behavior that we rarely give them a second thought when they are used or heard. Arousal is one of them. What’s the relationship between arousal and emotion? Do phrases like high arousal and low arousal aid or hinder training conversations and understanding? How does arousal relate to other words often used as synonyms, like drive and aggression? Join Lindsay Wood Brown and look at something you think you know in a whole new way—a topic that’s not about sex, but is still sexy (in a nerd kind way)!

Control freak

I’m fascinated by the concepts of control and choice and the roles the two play in shaping behavior. Control and choice have implications not just for training protocols but for parenting, managing people, and self-growth. For this year at ClickerExpo, here are three courses on control and choices that will oxygenate your brain.

Please Sir, May I Have Some Food, Water... and Control with Susan Friedman is a groundbreaking presentation that makes the case that control, like food and water, is a primary reinforcer we have not acknowledged.

Dr. No: How Teaching an Animal to Say “No” Can Be the Right Prescription with Ken Ramirez is a counterintuitive Session that demonstrates how increasing an animal’s control over his outcomes reduces unwanted behavior. When an animal has the ability to say no, it increases the probability of saying yes.

Animals in Control: The Choice Is Theirs Join Eva Bertilsson, Emelie Johnson Vegh, and Peggy Hogan for this Session and Lab! See how communication between trainers and animals about choice is implemented through specific training protocols.

Make space to expand your world. Join the training and behavior community at ClickerExpo in 2018. Learn more!

About the author
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Aaron Clayton is President of Karen Pryor Clicker Training and TAGteach International, and a member of the ClickerExpo Faculty.