Get ready for a fascinating conversation with Jos Eussen, a social entrepreneur who passionately champions a radical transformation of our formal education system. Jos guides us through his concept of OPEDUCA, which focuses on transdisciplinary, whole-student learning. He brings a fresh perspective on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), emphasizing the need for continuous critical thought and empowering young people to be entrepreneurial and take ownership of their future. Our discussion extends to the concept of regenerative education and its crucial role in reconnecting young people with the world and different cultures. We discuss the urgent need to break away from the traditional system of teaching and instead, foster interconnectedness and learning with everybody. Prepare to be inspired and challenged as we rethink education and sustainability together. As Jos says, let’s not just evolve; let’s revolutionize education.
(0:00:19) – Education for Sustainable Development and APEJCA
Jos Eussen emphasizes self-reflection, creativity, transdisciplinary learning, and the importance of people, planet, and profit.
(0:16:19) – Regenerative Education for Interconnectedness
Regenerative education seeks to reconnect young people with the world, bridge divides, and create a better future.
(0:31:13) – Reimagining Sustainability and Education for Change
Consumption, production, regeneration, education, sustainable development, local-global learning, reconnecting to land and place discussed.
(0:38:40) – The Power of Whole Student Development
Whole student development focuses on potential, learning from each other, collaboration to foster wisdom, industry’s role, and taking action.
(0:49:20) – Power of Connection and Understanding in Society
Breaking down cultural divides, connecting with others, and forming meaningful relationships are discussed to move forward.
Resources mentioned in this episode
0:00:19 – 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.
0:00:27 – Kyla
And I am Kylie Mitchell-Marquis, an undergraduate on our psychology student focusing on gender and sexuality at the University of the Fraser Valley and a research assistant for the podcast.
0:00:36 – Anna
As we begin, I would like to acknowledge that we are recording today on the traditional and contemporary territory of the Stó:lo peoples, who have stewarded this land and their communities since time immemorial. As we commit to indigenization and work to decolonize our thinking and behaviour, one very important lesson from Lorna Andrews, who is the Indigenous Teaching Specialist at UFV, keeps coming into my mind, and that is about seeing and teaching students in a holistic way, considering how our practices can nourish the four domains of self the mind, heart, body and spirit. Today we are joined by Jos Eussen, and, although he speaks from a very different context, his perspectives on education are similarly focused on the whole person.
0:01:23 – Kyla
Coming from a 20-year career in private industry as an economist and eventually CFO and CEO, Jos became a social entrepreneur, initiating the OPEDUCA project, which binds together the knowledge and action of industry, education, science, regional governments and societal institutions for sustainable development. The OPEDUCA concept that was developed effectuates a transition process of formal education towards transdisciplinary learning, merging education with company development.
0:01:49 – Anna
OPEDUCA considers ongoing learning processes as a thread throughout and beyond formal education. It focuses on continuous learning on future, defining themes in direct cooperation between education and industry toward local to global learning. Jos sees learning as something that can happen any time, any place, through any device, with anybody, and encourages learners to define their own and our common future.
0:02:16 – Kyla
Starting a transdisciplinary program at Maastricht University in 2023, Jos presently focused on the recalibration of knowledge structures in companies, management and employee development for strategic sustainability and empowerment of the next generation of future-oriented business leaders. Welcome, Jos, and thank you for joining us.
0:02:35 – Jos
Thank you very much for such a warm, complete, fascinating intro. I’m enjoying it myself, I have to admit.
0:02:42 – Anna
Thank you for having me Great. It is wonderful that you have joined us today. And to open, I’m wondering if you can discuss what education for sustainable development, or ESD, is from your perspective and then talk through how APEJCA extends or challenges or augments it or helps us to move through ESD’s various dimensions.
0:03:05 – Jos
All right, perhaps let me kick this off with perhaps redefining ESD a little bit. Let’s bring it back to the human scale. I think it’s about continuous critical thought about where we are today, how the world became as it is now, how it can unfold in the future, and to allow young people to celebrate that thought every day, to look in themselves, to celebrate society, to get in touch with the world again and continuously reflect on how it can become and how they can have a place in that future. How can they be entrepreneurial, how they can take ownership and, most of all, not be assimilated in the unsustainable presence we created altogether.
So I sometimes say you no longer have the future. We should realize they are the future. So the future is not mystique, it’s not uncertain, it’s not gloomy, it’s just walking around us. We just have to look it in the eye, we can pick it up, we can talk to it. So I’m very positive, whereas we face multiple problems, I’m afraid that ESD and all the education innovations we discuss daily make a world of themselves while the world is out there and youngsters are walking our streets. So I truly believe, without talking politics or pressure groups or anything like that, that the youth, the next gen of this world, should be taken care of in a much more respected way. That is what ESD should be about.
0:04:59 – Anna
That is one of the most hopeful and really inspiring ways of thinking about the future, because so often we hear it is doom and gloom and there’s a lot of fear, and I know that many of the young students in our classes or the students that I teach, and even my kids, they have a lot of anxiety about what is facing them. But to hear you speak about the future is in our children and that we can celebrate and teach these skills of deep self-reflection and not even teach necessarily. I think we have this propensity to do that as humans. But if we can get out of the way and we can keep fostering that, keep fostering creativity and wonder about the world, it seems really hopeful. And so is that something that you do in OPEDUCA? Would you say that that’s maybe one of the interventions you make in ESD?
0:05:54 – Jos
Yes, I think let me illuminate that a bit. We started from anger. Let me put that. We used that very negative frame In 2004,. We were astonished, flabbergasted, actually woke up coming from industry and out loud discussing youth unemployment and pollution, drugs and indeed anxiety, fear. That’s what we sensed and we gave words to that.
Beyond the system, sometimes I tell people I’m from the dark side of the force, from industry, this idiotic idea of people, planet, profit. I think that’s the first thing we should get rid of. Perhaps you should even get rid of the SDGs, but get to that later, right, I think that’s the first thing. We should get to that later. People, planet, profit start with. That has this illusion that there is a divide between what we do as people. The way we produce and consume is something different than we ourselves. I think there is no demarcation line between people and profit. Profit and economy is what we do, what we are, how we behave. So what we made of ourselves on earth today is who we are. We should be open to that. We created this. It didn’t came upon us, nobody accepted. So if we take people, planet, profit and realize planet is never there and if you’re not there, you’re on the menu. It should be at the table. So people, planet profit is about people talking to people about what other people should do. That’s the way we lost 50 years in 1972, at least two generations and that woke us up.
So the main question was what keeps us from progressing, from regenerating, from recreating? What is it? Perhaps we put systems in place indeed that were very precious and systems we needed for many, many years, but now that we became this interconnected, vulnerable world, this one world we still think as ice, we dream of we, but we still are individuals with their own hopes and concerns and careers. And so, from anger and astonishment, we start poking around and questioning people with the Columbia or Indonesia or Kenya, or back home in Maastricht. We ask what do you need? What do you want? What is it actually? We want babies and a dog to walk. We want babies and a dog to walk and nice shows on TV, and we want to be healthy. We want a house without leakages and no storms and not too cold and not too warm. So it was the same story and the same deep wish everywhere People wanted to be connected and safe and live together. And going a step further, people said we want to learn about water and food and health and construction and the energy we need.
So our next question was yeah, why don’t we teach that? Yeah, we cannot command learning. I think that’s a big, big mistake. Through our educational system, we created the illusion that we could command learning, but a child learns as of the moment it’s born, even before that I think. So we cannot command it. It’s a natural process. The best we can do is guide it and hug it and facilitate it and make this wonder of learning happen ever more profoundly and more explicitly.
Then what we did I think there we went into a danger zone is that we organized this education, this facilitation of learning in schools, which was very good for ages, absolutely so, but we organized it. And from this illusion of organization, we created the idea we could control and we could regulate and we could measure how good people were if they could jump across. Yes, goals we set for ourselves. And then it became even worse. We systemized schooling, we put it in laws and structures and we have consultants and ministries and NGOs and UNESCO. And then we got last week. We lost track, because it’s all about learning. It’s still about this human unique capacity that we can learn that we can project the future, and I think we should go back to that essential belief we can project, foresee and create a future.
So what began with anger and astonishment ended up in a story of hope. And if you want to reconnect and understand Earth, you have to be with Earth. You have to be in the region, in the woods, close to people and animals and biosphere. You have to feel part of life again, and that is the critical. I hear youngsters speak out loud evermore. What did you do to Gaia? What did you do to us? So we are afraid now and or we are angry, like Greta and then this young voice should not be penalized.
Giving youth the place and we read it now in UNESCO 2030. And, with all due respect, hearing the youngsters voice is not granting them a seat in commissions that do not function anymore. It’s more than that. The student central means allow these young people to learn about water and food and healthcare and care for the elderly. Why don’t we do that? That is the main question. The OPEDUCA concept, to answer your question more concretely, proposes a very old fashioned way of enhancing learning, that is, embedding it again in Earth and in society, on the street, with the bakery on the corner, the elderly people in home care just get our feedback on the ground again. That’s what OPEDUCA concept is.
0:12:07 – Anna
It’s nothing new. Yeah, I think it’s really inspiring what you’re saying, because there are these concepts about place based learning, which I really I believe in a lot of those ideas, but you’re talking about place based learning in this really expansive way that includes interfacing with community, with businesses and industry, and it’s I’m really struck by this idea that you’re suggesting like a nature needs a seat at the table, and so do students, so do the future, because it’s not enough to just say, oh, we’ll listen to the voices if the structures don’t actually allow for real input from students. And so and I also really hear you saying that that these are not like brand new concepts, just like many of the ideas about regenerative education also are not new concepts. This is indigenous wisdom, it’s indigenous ways of stewarding land and place and community that we are. We have been traumatized out, we don’t haven’t paid attention to your colonization and beyond that, we’re now recognizing this is if we are to save ourselves, this is the way forward.
0:13:21 – Jos
Yes, very much so, as sometimes referred to my grandmother with a very small farm, you know, took house, a few pigs and too many cats, and it was completely sustainable. Nothing came in or out that that that was negative to our world. She was peaceful and this peace, this inner peace, makes me nearly jealous. She proved to become 96 and the biggest wish for her which I it sounds harsh, but she it would be good if you drop that in our own garden, because that would be perfect and that would be the celebration of life. Instead, we have a healthcare system that took care of her for years, unfortunately. But I think you got the point that we were sustainable. We’ve always been sustainable, but now, due to our systems, we are seeking conflict. We, as we’re waging war with industry, but we are industry. We damnify Twitter. Yeah, we should do the shouting, should stop, but we are Twitter. So what again made me angry off those many years in ESD was that there seems to be an elite in educational yeah, in a facial reformation that says, okay, we’re going to invent it all on you, it’s not necessary. So, place based education, problem based, activity based, case based and all these learning theories, as, as a simple bookkeeper from origins. I didn’t understand. It was all about human learning and it seems as if there was an industry created that like a layer of folk who was across over education, and it’s crowded. It’s a community as such. Research is, consultants and publishers and all these together apparently don’t realize that we’re running away from schools we built, from this very old fashioned thing we got in.
Many countries would wish they would have schools. With the late Ken Robinson, with my highly respect, I had the opportunity to discuss. Why did you say this school skill creativity? Because you also damnify teachers, and teachers are, most of them, wonderful people. They teach about ESD and regenerative education out of natural inclination. They love children, they love development and through all the system, through this layer of form, through all this researching and excuse me to put this blunt all this edu blah blah, which is extremely expensive and extremely taking us, deluding us, we lost sight of the kids it’s learning and the teacher.
So ESD and I think, if you allow me to say so, regenerative education doesn’t need to be all that complex. It needs to be less and not more. Of course we need professional teachers. We need teachers that go out in the world again. They don’t need to wear white robes and stand above a small hill like the old Greek philosophy philosophers. But give me a little bit of that. Let’s get back to honoring instruction, to not only hearing but listening, to sit together in silence again. Read a book, be shocked when somebody touches you. That’s deep learning. There is human fantasy, that’s human creation. So we don’t need lesson plans or projects to do to manifest creative thinking or entrepreneurship. We need that. We have that intrinsic capacity as humans and our kids have it. So we have to unleash our youngest learning capacity and if we do so, we will unleash the transformative capacity of education.
We should not be alone. They should be connected, reconnected within their region and they should be reconnected globally. For me, and again black and white and a bit harsh, we shouldn’t learn about Africa, we should learn with Africa. We should even learn. It’s not the time to say so fully realize. But put a black and white again. We should learn with Russian culture.
There is a critical in that country. It is rich and old and has many things to learn. Us and we Dutch, we generated wealth, like many Western European countries, on the cost of Africa and Indonesia and the end totes we got some things to correct there. So it is so arrogant to now, from this ivory tower of the Western world, come on sustainable development. We should be deeply ashamed. We should finally take the time to sit and be silent and listen to people. So this interconnecting, this reconnecting of young people with the world as it is, also includes reconnecting them with the world, with cultures, and cross these borders. Oh the nonsense that we have borders and countries. It is wonderful that we have cultures, but it’s actually absurd that we drew lines on a map and say here’s my territory and there’s yours, and we can be friends, but perhaps we will be enemies some days. No, that’s none of these times anymore.
0:19:00 – Kyla
Yes. So what I’m hearing from you is that there has been this historical drive to separate us, separate us and look at us disparately in terms of like. We are going back to what you said about the people, planet and profit and trying to organize our system, trying to organize people, trying to measure people, trying to control people in this way, when, ultimately, from what I’m hearing, from what you’re saying, that regenerative education should drive us towards this interconnectedness with everybody, learning with everybody, instead of learning separately or trying to control people individually in a sense. So, just, I would like you, if you could, to expand on like what do you see are the key differences then between ESD and regenerative education? And, if I could, just to add on to what you had said earlier, if you can expand on like, what do you think it keeps us from regenerating? Based on what you had talked about, and the last one very briefly.
0:19:57 – Jos
We’ll come to that later. We are honest. We call up in this system. So if we just shout out regenerative education, is it? Then it will be another flower blossoming somewhere. It will not be a new tree with deep roots. It will be again a new manifestation of some wild, creative thinking about education. So it needs to be much more, much more than that. Let me also be very realistic. We are on this pathway already. We are 50 years behind approximately. We are on a pathway that has a very ugly divide waiting for us. We can all believe what I say and be hopeful and go that pathway.
It also may be possible we end up in a diaspora, and that Asimov told us lessons many don’t read anymore. He pictures us a world of 14 billion people on one planet that crumbled down under his own weight. He pictures a second and a first and a second foundation where to go. But he also wrote about a world with only 20,000 inhabitants that are all happy and have all the space to breathe and all the food to eat, if they were not just 40 billion but merely 20,000, served by robots. And let’s be realistic In our system of power and divide. Presently. We’re still presently in that reality. There might be forces working towards the 20,000 scenario and I agree this sounds very ugly and very negative, but we should face that truth. Earth can also be a wonderful place for less people. If I set this in a hole full of 200, they would now be whistling and booing at me.
Well, let’s face the fact. Even if we become sustainable for 7 billion, 10, 15, can we be sustainable for 40 billion without war, without envy, without jealousy? In order to achieve that, this world full of people, we need an intellectual capacity, even ghost, like connections and swift communications to prevent us from defaulting. So there is this left or right in the pathway. In our near future, will we control ourselves? Will we all grow intellect, compassion and this deep human thing we are again? Or will we wage war and do what we naturally do Because we decimate our population? That’s the fact.
That’s the way I speak to my students. We are still producing these ugly genes. We are eating these hamburgers. We still believe TikTok is welfare. Let’s face the facts. We still have wonderful young people that say let’s buy these clothes on Saizim, they’re made anyway. When I talk about emissions and cars and logistics and I really teach my students to be convinced that we don’t need this fossil fuel anymore. I also ask them that we’ll come home tonight with this new Mercedes diesel bands. You know, pay 200,000, got it all. What will you say to your dad? What will you ask? And many say the keys.
0:23:33 – Kyla
But just to quickly touch on what you had just said, if I just want to refresh in my mind.
So what it sounds like, also what you’re saying as well, is going back to what you said about not so much as, like, this system exists, but now we are this system or we have become this system, and I think it’s important to acknowledge that there are some things that are innate, but there are some things that people assume, like because it exists and because we all exist within it.
It always has been, therefore, it always should be. But I think that’s a very disparate way of thinking. And I think what also is so compelling about what you just said too and I guess someone who studies psychology and I’d studied like environmental psychology as well about like what is the gap between like knowing that these strategies in the world are existing, climate change is happening at such a rapid pace, but then their actions don’t meet this knowledge that they have, and so it’s really interesting what that comes with it, and it often comes in this because they’re in the state of fear and anxiety and such. So I just wanted to quickly touch on that because I think it’s so fascinating to hear about.
0:24:35 – Jos
Fantastic, I think. Briefly reflecting to what I said earlier about people, planet, profits, my proposal will be to think and live through dimensions of education for sustainability. There is a certain order in things we can accept and think. Many will agree perhaps Elon Musk won’t, but the rest of us will that there is no life without Earth. So we have to basically understand Earth, its rocks, its ocean, its biosphere, ecosphere, its chemistry. Without understanding Earth, it doesn’t make sense to progress. If we study Earth, you can cover 80% of any sensible curriculum already only studying Earth as it is. Then there is life on Earth. We can even put ourselves first and understand life. What is it? What is society? What are taxes? What is economy? How is healthcare? How do we behave? How do we communicate? What is well-being? How can we live together? How can there always be enough for everybody?
If we touch deeply on those two first dimensions and there is where I derail from average, let me say ESD wisdom there is also place for welfare, because some people will work longer and harder and are more talented, and somebody will own that boat in Monaco and drive the Maserati and have the bigger house and, to put it very blunt, I say so what? So it’s not just greening and happiness and altogether around the campfire playing guitar. Now we are humans. We will strive, we will seek to improve. We will always seek to stand above the other. That is a natural thing in ourselves. That’s within us also. So if we regenerate, let’s do it along that pathway first earth, then well-being, study it all and accept there will be differences in welfare at the end of the line. If we can accept that the whole regenerative education discussion and ESD discussion will be freed from this greenish pressure and we will involve many, many more people because more can agree on this scheme and we have logic in our curriculum. We can define learning themes from preschool up to and including university, in the world of life, work where we study food and water continuously, and construction and energy and engineering and healthcare. And if we do that, I have the profound hope that, ok, can be regarded as romantic and too soft, and I have this hope when young generations learn about earth and well-being, they will think twice about waste and welfare and excesses. So there is where regenerative education and ESD come together in a most profound way and, to put it perhaps, ok, using and stealing a bit from Asian wisdom is an inner peace of mind.
We need to refine. I shouldn’t be jealous if my neighbor drives the Ferrari, has the boat, the second house in Spain, if I am happy with who I am and I have peace of mind, and he needs the Lamborghini. Great, drive the Lamborghini, perhaps on HTO, I hope not on oil, but OK, then we can live together. So this we should get out of this harness, as ESD is, and all these people seeking their way forward. We still find ourselves in this capture as a prisoner in the system Therewith. I do not claim that we should destroy the system, that we should destroy schools or home for the elderly or anything.
We do a lot of sensible things. The turn is 20 percent. It’s not 100 percent. We have to twist the wheel, but we don’t have to turn around, because if we tell next gen, ok, hey, we had a fine life, we went everywhere, but you guys were sorry, you’ll have to turn around and walk 20 years back. Well, if I’d be 16, I’d show you some fingers. You don’t want to see and I would really applaud if my daughter and son would do so. So it is. We have to recourse, we have to point out a strategy, a point in the horizon that we can agree on and work towards and be realistic. And we can get there if we have a strong next gen that one day finds its balance and peace and happiness. That’s the way to go. That’s regeneration for me.
0:29:23 – Anna
Thank you, and you’ve said so many things that I would kind of like to circle back to, but I think so one of the big ones is when you say, like, if we can put earth first in our curriculum, to me that’s earth having a seat at the table, which is one of the things you started with saying, and I think that that is so important. And if we can start, as humans, going through education to really deeply understand how interdependent we are on the earth systems, maybe that can change some of our choices. And then, like as Kyla was mentioning, the fact that these systems that people just seem to accept and continue and tweak a little bit. They are stories that we have made and we can, like, we can change that. We can change systems.
But I think what’s really fascinating about what you’re saying is that we don’t need to throw it all out and break the system. I think your approach to this although, like you’re saying, that it’s maybe unpopular in certain domains, it is one of the more like, accessible approaches to include everybody, including the people that love their diesel pickup trucks and their their lifestyle of consumption. And so because I think massively, like on a mass scale, we do need to change, but it has to include everyone at the same time, and that’s one of the really important things that I’m taking away from our conversation right now.
0:30:56 – Jos
Thank you very much, because if we celebrate diversity, we should also accept it includes things that we celebrate diversity might not like today. That is truly accepting multiculturalism, diverse people, everybody’s own opinion. So I think if we I just touch on this issue of welfare, we have a false sense of happiness. It is not normal that a soccer player makes 700,000 a month. It is not more normal that people make a billion. It’s not normal that somebody presenting a sports journal makes 80,000 for 45 minutes of TV. No, it’s not normal. We should speak about that. We should talk about that Elderly people die in solitude. It’s not normal. We don’t want that. So that’s the rebalancing discussion we should. We should not just talk about dirty oil. That’s not the issue. The issue is what is well being, when are we happy and what is welfare? And speed out these excesses. It isn’t the excesses where the 20% can be gained. So all this sounds a little bit less romantic.
And I heard you ask a thing in between the lines this connection with industry. We are industry you, me and Kyla, the way we sit here. We are industry. We wear clothes, we have heating, we have a house. So we are industry. Perhaps we drive a car while we go home after the interview. So it is us consuming and producing. So the essence within all these sustainable development goals is just one it’s only about sustainable consumption and production and consumption. First, we decide to buy the genes. We decide to do buy the proper brand. It’s not in the academic journal, it’s not in the newspaper, it’s us today, every day. So we can change this world within three months If we really want to talking about regeneration, the earth will take a large breath and a sigh if we do so, and that we have to do.
0:33:08 – Anna
I agree, one of my like, one of the like, I’ve studied the ESD practice, ESD and I believe in ESD, you know, to a large extent. But but we can’t sustain this. We can’t just greenwash things and continue to believe that we can sustain these systems that we’ve put in place because they are so unequal, because they are extractive not just of, like, natural resources but of human resources. It’s so the distribution of wealth is so misguided. And so I think, when I think about regeneration, as you said like, and maybe we witnessed like a moment of this during COVID, when people stopped and things started to shift the earth will regenerate, it has the capacity, we have the capacity. But where I kind of bump up against ESD is this idea that we, that we want to sustain our current systems just in a better bit of a greener way, and I don’t think, for me anyway, that I don’t want to sustain these systems.
0:34:13 – Jos
Yes, you’re absolutely. I think you’re hitting the nail right on the head there, banging it through the table. Even ESD actually doesn’t tell us to regenerate. Esd tells us to work towards a sustainable development which can be as a scenario of 20,000 people on a wonderful green planet with a lot of rabbits. So we need to, we need to drill deeper and define what that is. And in regeneration, holds the promise of re establishing, re creating the way it was before we started destroying and extracting. So that actually connects closely to what I refer to as dimensions of education for sustainable development.
And the thing is like with all politics and policy development we have in place because of the system, which doesn’t need to be necessarily destroyed, but because we dwell in the system and, let’s be honest, many of us dwell in the system. If we talk about the ESD for 2030 years, it failed. This is not me collecting votes at the moment, which is absolutely not my goal. Some successful, but is the failed, so we can re-example, get back on the pitch again, ask a new ball and new goals, but get out there and do it. So I’m nearly begging not to diversify our approaches. I talked to schools, gymnasia yesterday, so upper secondary. We have the Netherlands and the Technical University of Eindhoven and said to these teachers you already got what it takes. You can work with these kids, we can open the companies, you can go out in the street. So try to explain me what you need. There were researchers that had subsidies and I wanted to use the subsidies. There were consultancy agencies that wanted to get a piece of the pie. So you feel it coming, despite the teachers having the capacity to do so well, and the kids out there.
We dwell in the system. Many of us like to write these papers all over again and a new policy documents Then in December. We’re already fighting at the moment who can go to Dubai? Only 30,000 can fly in. Isn’t that a big shame that we are actually concerned with ourselves, our academic career, our politics position? That’s where we should rethink. We dwell and especially we are here in Western Europe. You there in the Americas, us, look in the mirror, get out of the system. Keep what’s good and let’s face the facts. We’re not enjoying the sense of urgency. The more we write about it, the less we do. Let’s get to the doing. Then perhaps somebody will write a book that deals with our actions Two or three hundred years ago would say these guys got going. This is what it takes, that’s easy.
0:37:29 – Kyla
Yes, if I could pivot a little back back to it. I’m not really pivoting, but just saying okay, what can we do now? What actions can we take now? I wanted to ask about, within OPEDUCA, how can the whole student approach that you promote help us reconnect to land and place? Then, moreover, can you elaborate on the significance of a local to global learning space?
0:37:56 – Jos
Yes, before mentioning a whole student approach, first two earlier dimensions. We once had a whole region approach the village, the street, the neighborhood and the city, people living and learning and working together, be there for one, each other. That was a whole region approach. We created schools and now in UNESCO papers it said we should go for a whole school approach, we should make it green and go to the garden and rabbits running around and I’m taking this black and white again but in the outskirts of Philadelphia and Rio de Janeiro, in the south side of Amsterdam, you can’t create a whole school approach with nice, cuddly green gardens and rabbits. We should go further than that. It’s only about the human, the learning, our well-being, our understanding of Earth. So the essence of development is always within the person. There is only a whole youngsters, a whole human and thus a whole student approach. It sounds. Putting things back in white makes it perhaps more clear. There is only I. There is only I. The person develops, the person judges, the person decides. The more we say we should change, we should progress, the less we do, because we are only I’s when, not one organism. And only if the I’s agree on Earth and well-being and that bit of welfare. We will go on a pathway together because every I will be sure it makes sense Now to generate this I who is wise, as wise as possible, is not only about sharing data or information or gaining knowledge at universities. No, the trick is in using what we know wisely. That is development. Development is wisdom. It’s not about how much you know, it’s how you apply the things you know and experience. So if all of us become a little bit more wise, each with his own talent, on his own level in its own personal environments, then the I’s will become a we. So there is only a whole student approach and this whole students. As I said earlier, this developing one person should not be taught about AZR and Trump and the problems in Brazil, not about, but with. Let’s thank all of our bare knees that we can connect. We’ve got more on the phone. We can even during this radio interview. We have the pleasure of seeing you. So your nonverbal communication tells me so much more. I now know you have a cat. The listeners won’t see it, but the cat has a black tie. So that gives me a picture of who you are.
And we found that our young students, whether they’re 10 or 18 or 22,. They shouldn’t discuss methadone with Canadian students and have this idea about North and Canada full of ice, bears and rocks and ice the Canadian students. It’s a mess up here, guys. Look at the video, look at us, look at the way we dress, look at the way we look, wake up and smell the coffee. So this interconnectedness, this global presence, enriches the whole student development.
So a whole student approach. Let’s take that opportunity and learn with each other, from each other, and let’s get rid of this illusion that the Western world is better. There is deep culture in Indonesia and in the south of Peru and in the forgotten parts of Chile, and listen to that. We found and I strongly, strongly believe, even without research let us not research this for 20 years, for Christ’s sake. But we all sense that if we are connected if I’m connected with Chile and with Beijing and Moscow and Stockholm I will not shoot them the other day to make it most clear I will see that all these people, all these cultures, have deep roots of history and families and grandpas and they all want that safe living and water and energy and food, and then we can learn together and we can learn from each other.
So how stupid would we be not to use this opportunity? So can you just do this or can you do this Now? For one thing, I’m certain these youngsters can do this and we have to get out of their way and allow them to do so. That, I think, is sustainable development. So, whole school, no, whole student, yes, whole person development and doing it all together and crossing these silly national borders we have and these silly, silly, silly regional rules and regulations. Just one humankind, and we can be grateful. We are born on this earth that can sustain our lives. What more could we wish for?
0:43:06 – Anna
In what you’re saying, I’m reminded of the word you used, sort of at the beginning of our interview, which is re-correcting the harms done through colonization, through these legacies, these legacies of harm, because when I’m hearing you speaking, it’s reminding me of like if this is what a decolonized approach to learning could be, where it’s stewarding the whole person, but it’s also making these global community connections and potentially, maybe that’s one way where we can find some conciliation among countries, among groups, and I find that really hopeful because, as you said, like teachers, we can do this. We don’t have to go back to school and train for it. We know how to do it, our students have the capacity to do it, and we need to get out of our own way and start writing papers about it, which is hilarious.
0:44:05 – Jos
Yes, yes, I had a wonderful discussion with people from Tata Communication, for example. You asked me about industry. They control 30% of all communication worldwide. They have the satellites, they have the lines on the seas. Why not team up? Why accept industry in general? You know to write a nice company project and then do some payoffs, whether it’s General Electric or IKEA. All of them is us, all of them are people and many of them have children. It’s just you and me, so we can correct small things.
We should not discuss cradle to cradle and upcycling and recycling. Gosh, we did that already. We know how to recycle, so we’re not in the conference about recycling. We don’t need a conference about cradle to cradle. My grandmother was cradle to cradle already. That’s the illusion.
We again and again tell ourselves this fairy tale. We should innovate. No, we should renovate. Perhaps some of us can fly to Mars Wonderful. Let’s use the technology also for care for the elderly.
We know what we’ll discover, but we don’t need all these innovations and, as I said earlier, not the paper writing, absolutely not. So we have the knowledge. That is a claim. I also will invite other teachers and educators, for we have the knowledge. Just like you said, I know we have what it takes.
So we should ponder out loud together, very open, very critical, very vulnerable, what makes it that we don’t move? That’s the question of ESD and regeneration. Why don’t we move? What restricts us? And that’s the reason why I was away for four years. I painted the house, refurbished the garden six times over and then somebody said just a little work to do, so you’re going to be kidding, because everything is in UNESCO 2030 now we’re all talking about. But do we really understand what the paper says, or is it just paperwork? So, if I go back to the question for whole student approach, it is the student that defines what to learn about wind and water and food additions and fashion.
If we allow students to unleash this, questioning is forever why they will progress ever more swiftly in the system we created. We don’t even need to take away the curriculum or change the curricula. We don’t need to come up with silly things like ESD competences for price sake. It says kids should be creative. Well, they are. They should be communicative. They are, they already are. So if we allow them to, like like virtual mind maps unfold as search for knowledge around this globe, they will cover any curriculum this world has installed for them. They will tackle every examination, but they will learn from and within society again. They will gain speed that our generation couldn’t even possibly imagine. Fully convinced, because they have more Opportunity, faster data, communication. They’re more liberal, more friendly to each other than we have ever been.
0:47:39 – Anna
And I think we have this incredible opportunity in a way, in this moment where we’re facing such dire, urgent circumstances, and this moment of AI which in at least in my, in my sphere in higher education, it’s causing this upheaval in education where people are panicking about you know, what will this mean? What is learning, all of these things? But it’s such a beautiful moment for us to really have these conversations and rethink, like what is deep learning? As you were asking? What are the other ways to foster an experience or facilitate an experience where students themselves can can drive what they’re learning and where they’re learning and how they’re doing it. And I think I’m with you, I’m not afraid of it at the moment. I think that we need to embrace it as yet another tool. But the real benefit of this moment is for us to actually reimagine what education systems look like and hopefully we can move forward toward a more regenerative, more whole student approach, and that’s my hope.
But I’m wondering for you, in in all of the work that you do in the world that we exist in, what gives you hope?
0:48:52 – Jos
It’s very nearby. I think all of us will will ponder that answer at the moment. The hope is simply within ourselves. Wherever I go, people are actually very much the same. That’s my hope. Love is universal. It’s all. It sounds soft, I know, but it’s so true. We all have the ability to care for each other and we do.
Perhaps there are a few sick minds and apologize for saying that again, again, very bluntly, but 99.99% of people are very nice and if you once break the ice and forget about the nations and cultural hate and historical misfit illusions that others told us, all these people are nice people. There’s my hope. We just have to understand that again. There is no cultural divide. There is no reason to create rainbow flags if we open up to each other. No political pressure. I wish I could shut down my LinkedIn to avoid any discussion on chat GTP, for all these people now profiling themselves of their wisdom. You know all these papers again, all these new conferences and all these people flying around again. Oh, let use that energy just to sit together at the campfire and look each other in the eye and be friends. That’s the way forward that that gives me hope every day.
0:50:28 – Anna
This has been such a rich and fascinating conversation and I just want to say thank you so much for taking time at the end of a long day to speak with us today.
0:50:37 – Jos
Yeah, this was a true pleasure and thank you for granting me the opportunity to speak out freely, and I hope that I receive many critical feedbacks, but that would be the best sign that I got people thinking. Thank you both of you.
0:50:54 – Anna
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.