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Episode 212: Joe Layng Pt 1: Degrees of Freedom

This is part 1 of a three part conversation with Dr Joe Layng. To begin I should say that Dr Layng is not a horse person. This conversation is going to cover a lot of important concepts, but for the most part we won’t be talking specifically about horses.

I asked Joe to talk to us about degrees of freedom. This is a topic that I have heard Joe talk about several times and every time I have the same reaction. This is something we need to understand more clearly. It is relevant not just to our horses but to so many of the choices we make for ourselves. Whenever I hear Joe present on this topic, I want to share what he’s saying, and that is of course what equiosity is all about. Dominique and I get to share ideas that make us sit up and take notice.

So first, a little background. Dr Layng has over 40 years' experience in the experimental and applied analysis of behavior, with a particular focus on the design of teaching/learning environments. He earned a Ph.D. at the University of Chicago, where he collaborated with Paul Andronis and Israel Goldiamond.

He is the co-founder of Headsprout and was its senior scientist. At Headsprout, Dr. Layng and his colleagues designed, tested, and implemented highly successful Early Reading and Reading Comprehension programs. Over 4 million children have learned to read through the Head Sprout program.

Dr. Layng has held a number of positions in schools, universities, and other public institutions related to instructional design, educational technology, large-scale performance improvement, and clinical behavior analysis.

I met Joe at the Art and Science of Animal Training conference. His presentations have always been for me one of the highlights of that conference. I could easily go down any number of rabbit holes with him, but where we are going to begin is with degrees of freedom, what this means and what the implications are for our animals and for ourselves. In the bigger picture, this discussion will help you understand the origins of some of the divisions and the violence that fills the news headlines every day. It will also help us find solutions. It’s an important topic on many levels, and one I hope you will share with others.


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