Regenerative Pedagogy

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If the purpose of pedagogy is to further learning, why do so many educational processes and systems, embodied in our schools, result in turning students off to learning, dampening curiosity, and hindering natural inquiry?

Regenerative Pedagogy is the application of regenerative design to learning systems. The learning systems that exist today are the remnants of school systems devised in the late middle ages, are based in concepts of humans as overlords of nature, and often present separated systems of mostly intellectual learning. Although there have been many educational reforms over the years, mainstream education still aims at ‘training’ or ‘preparing’ a population for economic productivity. Despite recent movements toward ‘child based teaching’ and in infusion of activities based on the outdoors, observing nature, or planting gardens, much of mainstream teaching remains divorced from ecology and from natural systems thinking.

More and more, we are realizing that our economic models are not sustainable, and are not regenerative in the larger population. We have learned that the resource extraction that drives our economic productivity is not sustainable, that the resources themselves are not renewable, and the model of extraction is not regenerative. We face a world where our relentless pursuit of material wealth has resulted in the degradation of nature, of social interaction, of spiritual growth. A model of separation and a scarcity mentality permeates our current economic, social, and thus, educational models.

Regenerative processes create sustainable systems that mimic ecosystems and integrate pedagogy with nature.    There are two important concepts here; sustainability and integration with nature.   Current pedagogy is not sustainable- all too often it involves processes that break down the natural curiosity, ingenuity, and productivity of children. It only sustains, instead, models of society, culture, and economics that have created a fragmentation in the ways we view ourselves, our nature, and nature itself. Current pedagogy is divorced from nature, both the nature of the child and Earth’s natural processes.

If we are to make pedagogy regenerative we need to start with the vision of systems that will not waste the enormous resource that is our children, that will rather build upon the natural talent and potential in children as well as on models of nature.

If we are to integrate pedagogy with nature, we will need to apply all the tools of regenerative design to the design of learning systems.

If we are to create regenerative pedagogy we need to immerse ourselves in nature and in natural principles that will guide us toward regenerative design. We need to practice deep ecology, find and immerse ourselves in the deep ecological experiences that bring deep understanding and awareness, and lead to deep action and deep commitment.

REAP is an initiative to further deep ecology experiences and ecological design in teaching and learning systems. The first aim of the initiative is to improve the understanding of ecology and ecological systems thinking through deep ecology experiences.   Without the deep experience, there is no true initiative for change, action, and commitment.

A second aim is to provide training in permaculture design and deep ecology principles for pedagogy.  Short courses offered to teachers, administrators, and other school staff will focus on developing awareness of holistic social and ecological models.

The third aim is to develop ecological and permaculture based pedagogical solutions in schools, or in spaces and places that replace schools.   These are provided through The Small Earth Institute,

The REAP blog will offer resources for and discussions of deep ecology and permaculture based teaching and learning.

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