Compost, Blossom, Metamorph, Hurricane – Complexity and Emergent Education Design: Regenerative Strategies for Transformational Learning and Innovation
This work proposes a novel theoretical framework for sustainability education and explores four possible applications of the framework. Insights from complexity and complexity education elide with patterns from nature to birth four patterns of regenerative, emergent education. In this work I explore these four natural systems models of emergence and apply them to education. For each of the four examples of emergent regeneration sourced in nature, I surface the dynamics of the pattern, explore the scholarship from multiple disciplines describing and detailing the pattern, including its invocation, process, and qualities, and provide an example of the pattern’s application in education. Nature is replete with regenerative emergence. In the winter, the fallowing field is a haven for transformation; the compost bin is a small-scale example of this rich regeneration. In the spring, flowers emerge, bursting forth from closed buds. Summer brings the metamorphosis and emergence of moths and butterflies. Autumn’s hurricanes are radical transformers. Applied in learning contexts, these ecologically complex and regenerative patterns promise to increase learning, leading, and innovation so that we can collaborate to restore the natural systems capacities of place, people, and planet. At a time requiring regeneration of our capacities to learn and lead, emergent regenerative education approaches promise to restore us. These regenerative education systems liberate us from classrooms and programs stultified by over-planning and domination, hypertechnology, Cartesian separation and mechanization, disciplinary silos, and alienation from living systems, vibrant process, nature, body, interiority, and sense. Regenerative earth education reconnects us. Fallows learning can deepen us in emergent silence with sensory awakening, unstructured learning, imaginal depth, inner wilderness, and earthy groundedness. Bud burst can connect us like flowering trees in sensing networks and blossom us into learning collectivities. In diversity metamorphosis, we can weave safe havens of inner awareness and learner resonance, dissolve our resistance to difference, and renew our resilient capacities for change-making and beauty. We can create and support the conditions and processes for kicking off, amplifying, and nurturing hurricanes of learning in which flexibility and sensitivity catalyze creativity and flow. Nature can teach us to learn and lead as fertile listeners, collaborative networks, shamans, and creative storms. In this way, we can take the lead from nature in how to design transformational, emergent educational experiences that create sustainability, regeneration, and justice for learners and the world. With emergent regenerative education, we come to thrive as Earth.