The Regenerative Education System and Practice — Part 2

To get caught up, start with part one of this series here.

Photo by am JD on Unsplash

The Seven Premises of Regenerative Education Based on Living Systems

An attempt at articulating The Regenerative Paradigm for Education is offered here by comparing the older paradigm, to expose the errors, with the living systems view. It is illustrated through the 7 Premises that are intended to show the difference in what an education system and process looks like in each world.

Premise One: Engage with Wholes

Learning is best and deepest, i.e. tied to reality, when it is happening in the context of a Value Adding Process, not abstract courses by an arbitrary categorization of fragmented subjects. Key is developing learnings in the process of contribution learners are making (in real time) to a specific greater whole intended to create a particular value beyond the school, organization, family. There is simultaneous actualizing and potentializing. Learning and manifesting.

What that looks like

To unwind the centuries of defining education by fragmented subjects conducted in a classroom format we ensure that each learning event is being applied to a place and role in creating something for a beneficiary. And the group of learners is creating something together, as well as individually, in the process. They may be creating a new system for a community group, serving a set of clients with services, or running a business. Nothing, no learning, is cold storage to be used after the course is done. It is all applied, in real time, before the next installment, next gathering, or next use of ideas. It is always in a stream of events, preferably over years and a lifetime, rather than programs and chunks.

With young children it may be a garden or farm where produce is provided to a community or entity, large or small, paid or unpaid, but it matters significantly to the life of the entity. It is not an add-on gift they can use or recipients can just be grateful for but ignore it. It must matter to the core of the beneficiaries life. The farm is not something they do for the school, one another or the teacher, but for a next level of greater whole in the world that counts on them.

This can be done with sports if the work is directed toward something greater than the team winning. It must be for the community they live in that can gain significant value beyond pride. It needs to include more than on the sports field. Like working with kids in neighborhoods, the players themselves, to build not just sporting skills, but character and discipline applied to other areas of the beneficiaries’ life and their future. It requires a significant and meaningful external considering contribution in ongoing ways. The sports work is seen as the means to grow themselves to do this greater work, not the end in itself or for themselves alone.

For adults, it may be conceiving, creating and delivering goods or services to an external beneficiary (to their world and to teams/colleagues involved). This could be coaching sports teams to take on the level of external contributions, or leaders to a business that serves customers, or conductors of art or music events and schools. But it is always being of service to specific entities and communities who count on them for that value, not as volunteers doing work that is auxiliary to the core of their life and work.

We have had classrooms that fragment ages, subjects, and performance levels since the beginning. A unifier is having community to community relationship. This moves to developing the whole being whether adult or child. It takes place in a process of making a difference to others’ lives, not for its own sake nor primarily for personal return. The learning becomes an instrument in service of the offering to the beneficiary. It is never learning for a delayed role in some hypothetical future place. Specific communities and people are in mind with a specific contribution from the learnings and the learning is specific to the contribution. Not generic.

This value adding process design erases the tendency toward the first of the seven capability gaps fostered by the old paradigm. The old paradigm is based on understanding life by dissection into smaller, often called simpler, ways of studying a whole. E.g. dissecting frogs, fruit flies, or a child by diagnoses. The value-adding process evokes a whole when it has one system serve another. And they are seen as nested, one system within another, from cells within a body to the living body of Earth.

Why this is needed by nations in the 21st Century?

This is needed for 21st century education because the simultaneous learning and doing inside a value adding process speeds up change, provides a sound basis for innovation, and is relevant because it is specific. It also creates a steeper learning curve for all to grow faster not just in knowledge but in inner-being processes and personal development. People begin to see meaning in their lives by understanding what is significant to work on that will make a difference rather than an abstract idea of “changing the world.”

Premise Two: Evoke Essence

The second premise demands a process that activates the learner’s agency and initiation of, or in, the value adding process, awakening and supporting essence expression and reciprocity. This premise is speaking to the need to move from seeing the dissected parts of the old paradigm which sought to find categories of sameness to give some order. Because the mind does need order. The new paradigm gives a better way to get order than associating by categories. The work here is to awaken the connection to the core of each life form (e.g. student, learner); that which makes it what it uniquely is. In ancient wisdom the term is the essence of the being. It is uniqueness but that is not enough. It is something that it is that if that were taken away, it would no longer be itself. There are no lists to choose an essence from, because it emerges from the being. Where you have a tendency to classify even uniqueness based on “none other like it in existence” which still means it emerges from comparison rather than what is at the heart of its being.

This premise invites all education systems and processes to support each learner to discover that essence. This happens through finding specific value arenas in the value adding process, in which they are called to contribute to other beings (individual or shared value grouping) that also have essence. Then they can create an essence to essence expression and connection by the offering they make.

How does this happen in education?

When a learner is pulled toward work they see what needs doing for another being or group of beings, and the first door is opened. They see it and can take it on as the work they want to do. It is likely an evolution in their current role. It will require new understanding and ableness to work in that arena. Essence is what sees the need and chooses the work.

The education system must design and develop a Contribution Infrastructure that makes self-initiated new direction and contribution possible, inside the value adding process of the learning context. This means there are no generic assignments from others, no external grades, no rating and ranking of the results. It must be fully-self-directed to wake up and nourish essence.

The old paradigm is all about categories. This premise undermines and excludes categorization as an option. It stops comparisons by class or rank. It supports agency being expressed into the world and creativity coming to the foreground. The infrastructure provides some framing for learners to think into, but no procedure that sets the choices. The infrastructure invites ways of ordering and organizing that are inclusive of the levels of complexity and contribution that are to be considered and it makes clear the whole of the work necessary to make a functioning system. But at the intersection of these, the individual being sets their work in motion.

For example, in primary school an older child may select to be part of a mentoring program of cascading grade levels. They will need to get better at mentoring others, at the arena they want to help in, (e.g. animal care on the farm) and consider the level of complexity and stretch (move to understanding animal husbandry and how it fits with the farm). There are no pre-proscribed programs, or the agency dies. The top level of mentors have to respond to the needs of the student mentor and set their own path of stretch, complexity, and contribution. We have nested growth at this point.

Why the 21st century needs this ableness

Again, we have simultaneous learning and change, which is faster, deeper and more demanding of innovation. But we can also no longer afford to have any child or adult miss seeing clearly that they belong and are needed. No one will continue to think that there are higher or lower success levels in the value system based on class and rank. We need 100% of a population feeling that they are a part of the work of a commercial, social, or planetary process. And they can make a difference. Our current system of categorization undermines every business, community, nation, and Earth as a whole. But this is all imbedded in the education systems and its process design, and it must be “designed out” to bring about rapid and real change.

Would you like to join me in redesigning education at the systems level for the benefit of each and every learner? Find out more about the The Regenerative Education Community and send any questions to carol@carolsanford.com

Sr Fellow Social Innovation, Babson | Best Selling/Multi-Award Winning Author | Regenerative Paradigm Educator

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store