Join us as we traverse the landscape of regenerative education with Dr. Kevin House, an education futures architect at Education in Motion. Dr. House introduces us to the concepts of critical literacy, multiliteracies, and eco-literacy, which he brings together in the innovative Human Literacies Framework and the Green School Literacies Framework. These regenerative approaches to education develop fluency, build upon strengths, and offer a vision of education that echoes the wisdom of Indigenous knowledge systems. This unique model cultivates interdisciplinary awareness and empowers students with a sense of agency, paving the way for hyper-personalization in schooling. We further delve into the realm of digital literacy within a regenerative education context and explore the ongoing ability for digital self-regeneration throughout life. It is a fascinating conversation rich with insights and fresh perspectives.
(0:00:20) – Regenerative Education and Literacies
Kevin House’s framework promotes critical, multi-literacies, and ecological literacy, resonating with Indigenous knowledge systems for a more humane society.
(0:10:53) – Regenerative Education
Human literacy framework promotes interdisciplinary awareness, personalization of students, and pro-social purpose in education.
(0:22:02) – Digitizing Identity in Regenerative Education
Regenerative knowledge systems, digital literacy, cultural intelligence, and holistic worldviews are explored to apply to education and life.
Resources mentioned in this episode
“Pedagogy of the Oppressed” by Paulo Freire
“Multiliteracies: Lit Learning” edited by Bill Cope and Mary Kalantzis
“Cultural intelligence: the competitive edge for leaders” by Julia Middleton
0:00:20 – Anna
Welcome to Creative Praxis. I’m Anna Griffith, an assistant professor in the School of Creative Arts at the University of the Fraser Valley.
0:00:28 – Kyla
And I am Kylan Mitchell-Marquis, an undergraduate honor psychology student at the University of the Fraser Valley and a research assistant working on the podcast.
0:00:36 – Anna
I would like to begin by acknowledging that Kyla and I live and work on the territory of the Stó:lo peoples, Halq’eméylem-speaking people of the river. This season, we are deeply immersing ourselves in ideas of regenerative education, which resonates in many ways with indigenous knowledge, traditions and worldviews. A big component of regenerative education for us is decolonizing our approaches to teaching, learning and knowing. While we will be speaking the season to people from around the world, it’s also important to stay grounded in the teachings and knowledges of the particular and specific place we are so lucky to live in.
0:01:11 – Kyla
Our guest today joins us from Singapore. Dr. Kevin House is an Education Futures Architect at Education in Motion, an Associate Professor in Practice at Durham University, and also holds a Fellowship at the Chartered College of Teaching.
0:01:24 – Anna
Kevin has spent almost thirty years in global education. He has taught and led in schools in Africa, Europe, and Asia. More recently he held a senior position with International Baccalaureate working on curriculum design and policy before joining Education in Motion, EiM for short.
0:01:41 – Kyla
He began at EiM by establishing the group’s ConnectED Institute for Learning and Research and is presently developing interdisciplinary literacies frameworks and credentialing models for the Green School International and School of Humanity.
0:01:53 – Anna
evin gained his doctorate in education from Bath University where his thesis was awarded the Jeff Thompson Prize. He has published academic work on educational values, pluriculturalism, collaborative learning communities, digitizing twenty-first-century skills, curriculum and assessment design, and educational leadership. Welcome Kevin, we are so honoured to be speaking with you today!
0:02:16 – Kevin
You’re very nice. I’m very happy to have the chance to share Great.
0:02:22 – Anna
Your work on the human literacy framework is really robust and impactful, and it’s offered almost as a way to balance out traditional focuses in education. So I’m wondering if you could please explain the big three categories of literacies that anchor your work.
0:02:39 – Kevin
Sure, much of the work has evolved over the last, I would say, three years and the theoretical kind of research foundations are largely based around three different interpretations of literacy.
The first one would be building on Paulo Freire’s work around pedagogy of the oppressed, the notion of critical literacy, so in other words really learn on a journey to critically interrogate their accumulation of knowledge and development of knowledge.
Secondly, the multi-literacies work that Bill Cogue and Mary Kislansis have been working on for the last gosh, 20, 30 years and the really powerful aspect of their interpretation of the term literacy, moving beyond just the traditional interpretation of literacies is moving to a multi-literacy environment where, in a time where the digitization of media is ubiquitous and our engagement with that media proliferates, we as consumers of knowledge and creators of knowledge, need to be able to navigate those literacies with a level of fluency.
And that resonates very profoundly with myself and those that I work with. And then, finally, within the context of environmentalism, a combination of concepts of literacy that have evolved in environmental thinking and theory over the last 30 or 40 years. So from environmental literacy to ecological literacy, the notion that we develop a very complex systems approach to understanding the interrelated, interconnected aspects of the way we live when we are trying to solve some of the impending climate crises that we face at the moment. So for me, all three of those different theoretical interpretations of literacy come together in the human literacy framework that we use with school of humanity and with the green literacy framework that we use with the green schools international, and for me, both fall into the notion of what I perceive as being regenerative education.
0:05:10 – Anna
And one of the things that comes to mind when you’re speaking about these is the. I see a lot of parallels with Indigenous knowledge systems in terms of the complex systems, the inter interdependence, interconnectedness that the frameworks really seem to support, and I really love this idea that you’re talking about. Our ability to navigate with fluency, I think, is a really powerful component to that.
0:05:38 – Kevin
Thank you, yeah, yeah, no, I mean. For me that’s a really important point about using the literacies frameworks as opposed to the existing competencies, capabilities and mastery frameworks that you see in many different parts of the world. It’s that piece, that connection between literacy and fluency. I think as a knower we can have a wide range of literacy, but we all have particular specialisms or areas of the national purpose that we develop quite sophisticated levels of fluency in, whereas in some other areas of literacy we may have perhaps a lower level of fluency. But for a learner, particularly in the context I’m working with, regulatory, education, having fluency and understanding and appreciating that fluency can have different depths and levels of sophistication across, if you think about it in a disciplinary sense, across different subject areas. I think it’s a really important thing to acknowledge, absolutely.
0:06:41 – Kyla
You’ve discussed how attending to these areas or this model could result in a more humane society and a sustainable future. Can you describe how you see this happening?
0:06:56 – Kevin
I think for me much of that goes back to the notion of what does it mean to be humane, particularly within the context of the current era. I think obviously much of my career has been in international education. I’m quite well versed in many of the, I guess, strategic and cultural drivers in international education which, from its inception in the 60s the idea of the international baccalaureate was very much driving on many of the goals established by the United Nations and the notion that evolved through the idea around international mindedness. I think to some degree that that falls into this. I think that in itself evolved into local citizenship or recently, the DEIJ and the agendas that are being driven on there, particularly within education. I think all of those sit for me within understanding of the humane, but I think within the context, all of those things also being aware that those perhaps have some level of cultural bias in that they’re largely narrative, driven by Western culture.
And much of my career has been spent in Southeast Asia and in Asia generally, I’m really looking at the world through different perspectives.
It makes me realise that to be fully humane is to be mindful of understanding of, not just of other cultures in a compassionate systems kind of way but really understanding that our epistemological perspectives are. You know we’re kind of hardwired to have some cultural biases there and I suppose to be truly humane is to be quite deeply aware of that and I suppose, also going back to your point earlier about Indigenous culture, I think one of the things that’s emerging from me around the idea of what it is to be humane is the acknowledgement of many of the Indigenous knowledge systems because of colonialism and other drivers, many of the very rich perspectives at looking at the world, particularly through a complex systems, land being eroded or forgotten, and I think in some cultures now where we are starting to acknowledge and pay more attention to that, what it is to be humane has become far more sophisticated. We’re looking at the world than it was perhaps 50 years ago, particularly from a Western perspective.
0:09:55 – Anna
Absolutely. There’s so many things going through my mind at this moment, partly related to the kind of emphasis that you’re placing on diversity, whether that’s pluriculturalism, diversity of perspectives and worldviews. I know in the past you’ve talked about kind of like neurodivergence and all of that. When I think about regenerative systems, I think that the healthiest systems are the most diverse. They’re the richest, self-sustaining, they push us to see the world in different ways. So I’m wondering if you can unpack a little bit about the connections that you might see between regenerative education and diversity. I know that’s kind of a vague term, but regenerative education and diversity of thought, of perspective, of culture.
0:10:52 – Kevin
Yeah, I’ll have a go. So for me, a lot of my interpretations of regenerative go back to the work we would do with the literacy frameworks which fundamentally started out particularly in the pre-tertiary space around knowledge and the tax on the means of knowledge and effectively how we both build institutional knowledge but pass knowledge on to future generations through education. And I think in an era now where, again going back to a Western tradition, our way of creating taxonomies with epistemology is very much driven by a disciplinary perspective, and I think one of the shortcomings of a disciplinary perspective is that it, at very fundamental level, establishes a dichotomy in that you’re either this discipline and everything else is not this discipline, you know, or you’re looking at it. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I think there’s already there’s a tension there to prioritize certain levels of expertise in a disciplinary field over and above another, because the lenses through which you understand non-summarinings, you become more expert in a particular disciplinary area, inevitably as some kind of impact in terms of making you fundamentally, I think, in some ways less diverse in yourself as being. And so with the regenerative frameworks, the human literacy and green literacy frameworks, we were really trying to take disciplinary knowledge and say, okay, could we reevaluate and, in a sense, recatalog it? And so the frameworks.
Each framework sits around six literacies and within each literacy we have kind of three concept domains. I think of them as, and then within those nine knowledge dimensions, and fundamentally you can see elements of traditional disciplines within them, but the idea is to try and reposition them in different conceptual, through different conceptual lenses, as a way of trying to promote more interdisciplinary awareness in the way that you create curriculum and create learning design and, potentially, evidence learning at the other end and develop outcomes. So for me, that’s doing one thing in that it’s trying to mix up the traditions that we have to try and create more diversity in terms of pathways, personalization of students, trying to rethink old problems. But also the frameworks are designed in a way to try and allow for and acknowledge that to be a learner and to be authentically learning within an educational system, institutional or life, you are creating new knowledge and of course, I think most particularly compulsory schooling doesn’t acknowledge that. You know, when it’s vibrant, when it works, you as a know, are creating new knowledge and, albeit very small, albeit, if you like, adding a grain of salt to the pile, but it’s still really, really important to understand that and that creates a certain amount of agency and I think that allows for a much wider range of diversity.
And for me that goes back to my own personal viewpoints on neurodiversity, and I know neurodiversity in and of itself some find is a loaded term, but then I think you know the DSM5 and all of those specific disorders, as they often get labeled, I think are also incredibly problematic. And so, yeah, ultimately, I think diversity in terms of the way you look at the creation of knowledge systems in effort to release to, diversity in terms of the way you use a knower, look at the world and the way you accumulate knowledge, and for me that’s quite powerful in how we create more. A colleague recently called it hyper personalization in schooling for students before they get to tertiary. And, of course, one of the barriers that we might come to in a moment, one of the barriers in this, I think, is kind of big brand tertiary education which, for all the rhetoric it might attach to itself with its innovation labs, except for the reality is it’s a very conservative education and business model and that I think is stifling the potential to have more innovation and diversity in compulatory education.
0:16:07 – Anna
I agree 100%, and as much as people say that we want to embrace interdisciplinarity, there’s few opportunities to do that within higher education often, and it’s not given as much credit. And yet it’s one of the skills that businesses, companies, workforces say that our students are lacking when they leave higher education and enter the workforce. And so another thing that really resonates with what you’re saying is this idea of really personalized learning and purposeful learning, because what I see in regenerative education are the potential for everyone contributing their really unique voice, their gifts, whatever they are really passionate about and have an aptitude toward, and then they develop this fluency, as you mentioned. There’s maybe more place for that individual voice and perspective to shine through, whereas in some of the regular classes that we teach, unless you speak the codes of academia already, you might not be recognized or valued as much.
0:17:23 – Kevin
Yeah, absolutely. I mean listening to you speak and sum it up in that way. I mean it makes me think back to what we were talking earlier about. You made education and I think this falls into that. There’s a paper by Seattle Moran I came across last year where she talks about pro-social purpose and I think that’s, for me, is another part of human education. I think it’s another fundamental part of another big influence on me that I often talk about. What classes elsewhere.
I think Gert Biesta’s work around purpose of education for me has always been a very deep and meaningful provocation Because it’s again, it’s something quite close to my own heart. Having been immersed in education from different perspectives teacher, practitioner, educational leader and then kind of researcher and so forth I’ve often come back to that question what is the purpose of education? And of course, biesta talks about three functional purposes, if you like. Functional dimensions qualification, socialization, subjectification, and those things resonate a lot with me, particularly the latter, the subjectification piece, and finding that in with Sian and Rahn’s work around pro-social purpose. I think a big driver within compulsory education is about finding yourself, it’s about defining yourself. We don’t really acknowledge or pay enough attention to that because we’re all, education is an industry and it is an industry, whatever the rhetoric around learning might be. Fundamentally isn’t it industry? Drives on using the financial markets as a proxy for evaluating what quality looks like and what learning looks like. By default, we tend to place a lot of value on grades and qualifications within quite a narrow set of skills or knowledge that’s being assessed and evaluated and awarded, to the detriment of thinking about the subject.
Me as a knowing subject, and I think, particularly in adolescence, into early adulthood, really try to figure out who you are, your learning journey and your experiential journey. Those things are really intertwined and totally interconnected. But of course, our education system because it I think it’s industrial biases doesn’t really acknowledge that enough make space for enough. And going back to what I was saying about Sian and Rahn’s paper for me resonates because I think that idea and this relates to the humane is that giving adolescence into early adulthood a rich journey that allows them to try and find a pro-social purpose for their life, particularly for this generation facing the crises that we do face, that our generations and previous generations have not had to face, having a sense of pro-social purpose.
So, in other words, I think the social is really important, my acknowledging me the individual, very big driver in Western perspectives, but also, you know, me as an individual, is a meaningless concept unless me as a social being, is a very, very important part of the creation of me as a self. But also, rather than the rhetoric around passion, these days I much prefer the rhetoric around purpose because that for me leads more to action. So if you take pro-social obviously very more, very more of a up the optimistic perspective, but pro-social purpose I think is a wonderful way of looking at what can be a driver within a humane context. And that purpose in a diverse immunity can be very, very different and you know it can be large, it can be visionary, strategic, or it could be small, but it’s still purpose and it’s still important.
0:22:02 – Kyla
Yes, yeah, what I’m hearing is, you know, we talked earlier about diversity and we talked earlier about, yeah, this sense of interrelatedness and it seems like what you’re discussing with this is huge, like regenerative knowledge systems, and I hope you can speak to like, if you can speak to how, how these regenerative knowledge systems can promote this holistic worldview. There seems to be this connection with interrelatedness, diversity and how a holistic worldview with a focus on complex systems, reciprocity, equity, diversity, inclusion, reflexivity and collaboration how are they all interrelated in some way?
0:22:41 – Kevin
Sorry, I really got that now, so Sorry, no.
0:22:44 – Kyla
I know, I know.
0:22:47 – Kevin
I haven’t got that, but so I suppose again I want to bring it back to the space in which I spend most of my time working and thinking, which is the final years in a student’s journey or a learner’s journey within the context of the compulsory education paradigm. So really, you know early adulthood and why I, you know obviously I’ve been working in that space most of my career, but I also really enjoy the challenges that are created within that, because I think that that’s the space where so much of what you just summarized there comes to kind of a sharp point in that, some kind of acknowledgement by society that has incredible repercussions for you as a human being happens around the age of 18 in many, many cultures that have access to education to that level, and I have to acknowledge that that is a privilege. Still, although it’s been a goal within the United Nations for well over half a century, we still haven’t achieved that by any means, and we still see countries where, particularly for women, that’s still something that’s not accessible, which is a travesty for us as a species. But looking at the way in which it’s played out over the last 150 years, as we’ve industrialized education, it’s created incredible access, but it’s also created, I think, an incredible burden in terms of the institutional way that we approach, acknowledging what someone is at the age of 18. And so, in the spirit of regeneration, complexity, diversity, many of those mathematics I think it’s interesting to look at.
Why does it come to such a narrow point at the age of 18 and what are the repercussions of that? And fundamentally, I’m talking about credentialing, I’m talking about qualifications and how those effectively determine what your next steps are in life. For me and I’ve spoken about it elsewhere I think it’s because it’s quite a visceral thing for me, not in a bad way, I think in a very good way, but being someone who had a child with one I didn’t really have, you know, I had state education in my country to the age of 16. At that point, for a variety of reasons, I didn’t go into education. I came back to it much later, 10 years down the track, and because of the society I lived in, I had access which, in that particular society, is no longer there for someone of my profile. You know.
There, I think, what interests me is how all of that complexity comes together in basically a set of qualifications or diploma or transcripts in different contexts and what that allows you access to, and also the systems of the next step, specifically tertiary, and what are the gateways and what are the obstacles to those gateways. And so I suppose, for me, I’m really intrigued to see how could we, particularly with the ubiquitous digitisation of our lives today, like it or lump it. It is here, it is real. The digitisation of our identities in the next decade is going to accelerate. I think you know the way in which you’re defined as an individual through a digital wallet or some form of digitisation around your fundamental credentialing. So what you leave? An Austrian education with your insurance, your medical history, your taxation, your credit history all of that is going to be living there. It creates an incredible amount of challenges in that spirit, around the ability to regenerate as a self as you move through life.
The limitations in my place on diversity, but also looking at, well, what kind of opportunities does this digitisation create? And for me, going back to what I said earlier, how could the regenerative hyper personalisation approaches to education look in terms of my ability to have digital wallet that could show areas of breadth? You know back to the literacies. I was talking about areas of breadth and areas of depth in a digitised wallet with micro credentials where I could stack expertise in particular areas throughout my life that might be areas of passion or focus for me or areas of professional skill that I might want to stack. And I think it’s really important that we try and bring that digital literacy in a wider sense of the concept of digital literacy my ability to create a sophisticated, holistic portrayal of myself through a digitised set of credentials but also have the digital knowledge to understand how I build versions of myself or multiple selves that exist in professional and private social media spaces. I think it’s quite sophisticated set of mindsets and for me, I suppose that’s an epimatic that my thinking hasn’t really developed yet around the notion of the regenerative self.
What does the regenerative self or selves look like within the context of the digitisation of what that means, the proliferation myself? How do I stay rooted in that? So, borrowing from Julia Middleton’s idea around cultural intelligence, she talks about core and flex. I think her idea of core and flex for me in terms of the regenerative self is quite an interesting concept, because what’s my core self and what’s my flex selves in the digitised landscape that I’m going to be inhabiting and how can I have positive impact in that pro-social sense within that, and how do I navigate that? So I suppose it’s a very meandering approach to the summary that you just offered me, but I suppose that notion of how can regenerative education create regenerative selves, how can we use the digitisation of identity in the emerging landscape, how can that happen?
And I suppose another area is also with the explosion of the Pandora’s box, which is Generative IA and LLMs that have emerged in the last few months. What do we look at when we are at that sharp point I talk about at the age of 18? What is it we think we want to acknowledge and share and, if you like, value in a learner, given that, realistically, some of my stakes exam will sit and rose for a month in May in the Northern Hemisphere and right away, thousands of words in written examinations. I think, for one reason or another, that’s not going to be the way we evaluate evidence of learning and growth over time in the future. And so I think there’s some wonderful challenges there and wonderful opportunities in the widest sense for regeneration.
0:31:26 – Anna
In the work that you do, given all the context that you work in, what gives you hope?
0:31:34 – Kevin
That’s a good question, I suppose. Fundamentally, I think, as a species even though we get a bit caught up in our own hubris I think we’re great at things like pattern identification, we’re great at making tools and we’re great at using things like analogy and metaphor to make connections through things, and I think many of those particularly the last area, that idea about the connections we can make and that neurodiversity and acknowledging that within our communities that think in very different ways.
A lot of the concerns around the AI that I just mentioned pattern identification, for example yeah, sure, we’re going to have AI that we have AI that maybe is quicker, faster at doing some of that and potentially can work to create tools maybe more efficiently than we do. But it’s the spark of ideas by analogy and metaphor, which I think is the richness of the human spirit and I think that, for me, is always optimistic and fundamentally, we’re playful, you know, although we try to we try to do our best in the current model of education, many contexts to kind of tamp down playfulness. I think we are playful, you know, and that playing with metaphor and analogy is something that is a fundamental part of our spirit and I think that gives me a lot of hope. So, whatever we catastrophize about in terms of our relationships with emerging technologies, for example, or our problems with the current crisis facing the whole planet, I think there is always a way through. It won’t necessarily be an easy way, but I think there’s always a way forward.
And, going back to the theme that’s run through the whole conversation today. We’re regenerative as a species, as all species are. And you know, even if maybe part of our purpose on the planet is to get to a critical tipping point maybe that’s part of the complexity of the life of the planet, you know the guy or S sort of way is that that’s part of our role is to take it to that point so that the planet itself will emerge and continue to regenerate in ways that maybe won’t have 9 billion of us on it. But I don’t necessarily think for me that’s particularly awkward concept to try and digest. Of course the journey from that to something else may be uncomfortable for us as a species.
But you know I don’t kind of catastrophise about that because that’s such a long term view. It’s like the reality around historically how that transition would take place in terms of the planet potentially regenerating itself. You know we’re talking in timeframes that we as human beings really can’t understand anyway. So I suppose that the planet, I think, will regenerate, I’m certain of that, for as long as it will regenerate as a star, you know, within the solar system. But we’re all rather within a planet in a particular part of the solar system. But the thing about human spirit, that idea to playfully use an abatement metaphor and find creativity through that, that’s the thing that gives me hope.
0:35:59 – Anna
That’s a really powerful and beautiful way to close. So thank you so much for this really rich conversation. My mind is spinning. Thank you very much for your time. You can find our guests’ contact information and any resources they mentioned in the show notes for the episode. If you want to stay connected with us or learn more about our work, visit my website, annagriffith.ca. There you’ll find additional resources and ways to contact us directly. We would love to hear from you, so if you have any feedback, suggestions or topics you’d like us to explore in future episodes, don’t hesitate to reach out. The Creative Praxis podcast is produced by me, Anna Griffith with support from Kyla Mitchell-Marquis. Sound editing is done by Brendon George, with music from Wattaboy on Pixabay.