What might regenerative practice look like in education? | Benjamin Freud, Ph.D. | 12 Min Read

June 5, 2023

Regenerative practice can never be achieved or ticked off a list. Regenerative practice is just that, practice that emerges from a set of principles. Regeneration is dynamic and ever-changing, so it cannot be a place we land and settle comfortably. While sustainability aims for balance, regeneration focuses on the dynamic change process, at every moment and in which we are active participants, rather than isolated entities. 

The word regeneration comes from the Proto-Indo-European roots “*re-” (again) and “*gene-” (to give birth). Sustainability derives from the PIE root “teh₂-” (to support, but also to remain). We can visualize the difference between the two words: one focuses on maintaining support, while the other represents the perpetual process of renewal. Regeneration implies re-birth (and therefore re-death), yet this does not provide much insight into regenerative practice in education.[1]We could say “make it concrete” since concrete comes from “*kom,” (together or with) and “*ker-,” (to grow). In Latin, the word is “crescere” (to grow), so to make … Continue reading We still need a map to find our bearings as we fumble our way through the practice. Then we can apply that practice to education.

What might regenerative practice look like? What might it look like in education, in learning? How can we make it more accessible, bringing it down from esoteric heights? We can start by asking these questions, but we will quickly realize that no matter what we do, regeneration is always happening, that the universe, our relationships, systems, and everything else are constantly flowing and permanence is an illusion. Regeneration is the unfolding of life, contrasted to the mechanistic view (static, composed of replaceable parts, lifeless) of the world our culture frequently embraces. The universe is non-static: it is the infinite processes that are born, grow, decay, and are transformed into newness, and it is only when humans delineate that we create separateness and the illusion of permanence.

Regenerative practice flows and does not stop anywhere long enough for permanence to settle. It participates [in/as] the world through non-duality (advaita, in Vedanta philosophy), It refers to the nature of existence consisting of one interconnected whole, rather than many separate things cobbled together. It is the idea that we are “all, but not two,” that is,…

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1 We could say “make it concrete” since concrete comes from “*kom,” (together or with) and “*ker-,” (to grow). In Latin, the word is “crescere” (to grow), so to make something concrete is to allow it to grow together. Unfortunately, we tend to think of the hardened building material, so I am avoiding this term.

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.