A profound way to contribute to the shift towards a Regenerative Economy — Part 3
Embracing a new role
By Sidney Cano (Author) and Karryn Olson (Editor) with The Regenerative Economy Collaborative
To start from the beginning, find Part 1 of this series
As stated before, there is a need for us to change how we approach and work on change.
To summarize so far, the current tendency is to lead change from the role of authority (who holds wisdom and transmits it to others involved in the desired change) or from a behavioral approach (establishing disincentives and/or a rewarding environment to move a group of people or a system towards a desired state). Instead, in order for change to happen in a profound and meaningful way, it is fundamental that we approach it from a different paradigm, one that connects authentically with systems´potential, enabling co-evolution for individuals, organizations, Earth and community, simultaneously.
To embrace a new way of living and working, from living systems thinking, implies destabilizing our undertsanding, and shifting to a role that allows development for everyone involved.
This new role is focused on developing intelligence to discern and actualize the contributions we each can make through regenerating-life processes. This is precisely the work of a Regenerative Educator.
“The Regenerative Educator role develops the ability of individuals to understand themselves and the world. Even more important, an educator helps people overcome their mental inertia — the strong human tendency to rely on old habits of thought and belief. True education is not about filling people up with information or knowledge. Instead, it’s about enabling them to generate new thoughts that allow them to create meaning from what they know and to make wise and conscientious choices based on what’s happening…” (2020. Sanford. pp.75–76).
The Regenerative Educator aims to serve all Stakeholders in an economic system — including natural systems. She tends relationships to become authentically connected to Living Systems, while developing intelligence of these Stakeholders so that they transform the way of relating in order to contribute to meaningful processes for the Life of the system(s) in which they are embedded.
In my early twenties, I thought that an educator had little or limited relevance to the strategy of a business. As I was pursuing my undergraduate degree in education, my father told me, “You´ll die of hunger. Nobody values the work of educators.” Years later, I did shift my career and started making my way in the business world. In order to multiply my intended impact, along with some partners, I founded a holding company that had the aim of making the difference in the world.
As a way to actively integrate this new approach into my work and life, I began to engage in reflection and thinking sessions to begin to build my higher-order discernment and critical thinking skills. However, while working on changing my own mindset, I realized that this would not be enough, but that we needed to engage the mind of every person in the company.
Since then, we have opted for the most valuable investment in our business system: educational processes that increase the ability of everyone to think and act differently, starting with generating a new approach in the pursuit of mutualistic benefits for all stakeholders in our systems.
To be able to design regenerative educational processes, first we need to enable ourselves to see, connect and think differently[*] starting from increasing our capability to examine and discern what is sourcing our thinking, strategies and actions.
In writing this article, I invited a few colleagues actively engaged in increasing their capabilities as regenerative educators to make possible the arising of a new economy, to observe and journal about their experience in this way of working.
As a lifelong educator in both informal contexts and higher ed, Karryn Olson has prided herself in creating holistic, transformative learning experiences: engaging the body/mind/spirit in learning, in ways that allow all involved to examine and update our worldviews. Karryn narrates her recent experience in uplifting her work as an educator at the level of regenerative-effects: “I kept noting that my efforts were falling short: in permaculture design courses, I’d see students leave ready to build an herb spiral, or swales, not asking themselves if it fits within the context of the site. Regarding entrepreneurship, I’d see folks designing their offerings around making challenging situations ‘less bad’ / more tolerable — for themselves and their clients. Despite my effort to help folks shift to a new paradigm, I saw them devolving to using templates, or to fragmented solutions that didn’t support the true evolution of their clients´ systems. Moreover, they’d feel deflated when I pointed out that these weren’t systemic solutions. And then I’d start offering my ideas, and they’d expect me to deliver them since I was in the role of the ‘expert.’
Since I began the developmental work around understanding my role as a regenerative educator, I have had the very humbling experience of seeing how my work is still rooted in the very paradigms I want to shift away from. I am determined to increase my capabilities as an educator and the effects this could have in enabling the emergence of potential new capacities in my clients´ systems, so I am identifying and share here some of my personal growth edges:
· Instead of becoming expert problem spotters, how do we discern and relate with the uniqueness of the Systems we are in and desiring to serve?
· Rather than prescribing “enlightened” worldviews or solutions, how do we build our own and other’s capabilities to discern the paradigm we are thinking and working from and leveling-up ourselves to new paradigms?
· Instead of creating curricula, “recipes” of techniques that have worked in the past, and evaluating people against our ordained criteria, how do we support all participants to discern and grow self-assessing and self-managing capabilities, and gather the knowledge that supports their evolution, and service to larger Systems?
· The thrill of being the one who “has the answers” or gets credit for opening up someone to a new way of thinking is actually a hindrance to the emergence of a regenerative economy. How can educators shift their practice towards aiming to develop the ability in each learner to think resiliently in novel situations, thus enabling self and system actualization?”
Karryn stated as part of her journaling exercise: “As I am working my way to truly manifest a Regenerative Educator role, I see the results of this new approach in my clients. One wrote recently: ‘This was a super delish and impactful session. (…) due to being specifically reminded of exactly why I’m working so hard to shift the paradigms I’m embedded in, even when my lived experience of that process (and progress) often feels imperceptible and glacially slow.’