Initiatives for Schools

Earth Awareness and Regenerative Design for Schools

Major environmental and societal change expected in the coming decades creates the need for new pedagogical design and for sustainable instructional methodology. This seminar provides the foundation for ongoing development in an ecologically based pedagogy.  The full day seminar is divided into two parts and there are two breaks with snacks and lunch provided.

Part one is an introduction and deep time walk designed to regenerate appreciation for and awareness of our interdependence on the Earth together with an understanding of Earth’s history and the development of life on the planet.home trees  The deep time walk is a 4.6 km walk, as a metaphor for the 4.6 billion years of Earth’s existence. Each meter signifies one million years, so that participants are guided through the entire history of Earth time as they trek through countryside, along cliffs, through forests and up to the top of an ancient  stone age fort, Ådalsborgen in Horten municipality.  For sessions at school premises or where there is not a long walk available, we can substitute a shorter walk and sensory involvement activities designed to help us to develop an awareness of and appreciation for the elements of Earth in air, rock, chemical, water, earth and growing things.

After the walk or sensory experiences, there will be a presentation of several activities that can also be used in primary or secondary school Science, Ecology, English or Dance or Physical Education classes.  These are nature based and interactive.

The  afternoon session is dedicated to exploring the use of regenerative ecology and permaculture design principles in pedagogy in order to incorporate ecological principles in the classroom and school environment. Regenerative ecology is a design based approach to using nature’s regenerative principles in systems design.  Permaculture is also a design protocol, a method for seeing and creating sustainable structures and cycles based on nature.

To this end, permaculture principles and regenerative design methods are applicable to all structural entities, both natural and social.  As a design protocol, permaculture principles are based on those found in nature, and natural solutions are proposed for solving problems in the environment.  In education, the design protocol is useful in the planning and creation of a sustainable pedagogy and in the planning and delivery of instruction and teaching methodology.

This seminar is led by Katharine Burke, an educator, facilitator and Permaculture Design Certificate holder with more than 30 years experience designing and leading courses for young people and adults. With teacher training in Linguistics and in Primary Education and Pedagogical Leadership,  Katharine has taught at all grade levels for over 30 years and has over 10 years experience with teacher training.  She has worked as a curriculum coordinator for International Baccalaureate schools and provided teacher training in differentiation, instructional methodologies, and inquiry practices.  She is currently training as a Regenerative Design Practitioner.

The Deep Time walk is an ecological experience originally designed by Dr. Stephan Harding , professor of holistic science and resident ecologist at Schumacher College in the UK.  Katharine has participated in the Deep Time Walk at Schumacher and has modified this walk for a personalized experience in the unique Vestfold geology, geography, and history.   Other activities in the seminar are based on Permaculture Design Principles, Group Dynamics, Regenerative design,  Joanna Macey’s Work That Reconnects,  and Nature Guided Therapy.


9.00 Introductions;   The Ecological Imperative in Schools

9:45: Interactive Session:  Building Ecological Appreciation

10:00  break and Deep Time Walk- Earth History and Ecological Interactions, or Sensory Interactions with Earth Elements.

12.30  Lunch

13.15 Sessions for development and use in classes

  1. Body Balance:  grounding activity focusing on gravity and our development through time
  2. Interactive Session:  Five Senses Interaction
  3. Interactive Session: Ode to Earth
  4. Breathing Earth- exploring the science of carbon/oxygen feedback , erosion, water and rock cycle, photosynthesis and more.
  5. Poetry and Story as tools for integration
  6. Interactive: Earth Art

Discussion:  Ecosystem as Mentor for Regenerative Design

work with role play to practice using mentoring practices in various scenarios

15.15  Break

15:30  Introduction to Permaculture and Permaculture Principles in Planning and Teaching

Introduction to permaculture principles followed by time to use the principles and develop responses to actual situations in school in a collaborative team approach.

17.00  End of Workshop