Learning through curiosity of the heart and the mind: A conversation with Bern Nicholls, Ph.D. | Benjamin Freud, Ph.D.

March 18, 2022 & September 15, 2023

In this episode of the Meaningful Learning podcast by Coconut Thinking, I speak with Bern Nicholls. Bern is a school-based researcher who focuses on creating cultures of curiosity that support students and teachers to pursue their inquiries. She embraces curiosity as the fuel for her own learning and many interests. Bern and I had an earlier conversation about adopting a more biocentric worldview and set of values to address the problems that lay ahead for the planet and all living beings. I wanted to capture more of her inspiring thoughts in this podcast. In this conversation, Bern and I discuss:

  • How it’s not either/or; it’s both/and… breaking through binaries and dualism.  
  • How curiosity is the precursor to thinking. 
  • The need for teacher agency, not just student agency.
  • The power of animals in learning and well-being. 

Join us for this episode and we look forward to your thoughts.

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Benjamin Freud, Ph.D.

Benjamin Freud, Ph.D. is the co-founder of Coconut Thinking, an advisory that supports schools and learning organizations to co-create, co-develop, co-stress test, and co-implement ideas that nurture the conditions for emergent learning. Benjamin is also the Head of Upper School at Green School, Bali. He was previously the Whole School Leader of Learning and Teaching at Prem Tinsulanonda International School in Thailand. He was the Academic Coordinator at Misk Schools, one of the most prestigious and high-profile school in the kingdom. In 2018-2019, he was also the Head of Upper Primary and Middle School at Misk. Prior to this, he was Vice-Principal of the Middle School and High School at the Harbour School in Hong Kong. He holds a Ph.D. in History, an MSc in Education, an MBA, an MA in International Relations, and a BA in International Affairs. Benjamin was born and grew up in Paris, France. He moved to the U.S. when he was 15 and spent 11 years there in different cities before living in the U.K., Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, and now Bali, Indonesia. He started his career in consulting for Internet start-ups in Silicon Valley in the late 1990s, working with people whose ambitions were no less than to change the world. This experience had a profound effect on Benjamin's outlook on education, innovation, and entrepreneurship.