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Episode 25:
Why Love Matters

Guest: Jon Cree


Marina Robb

Hosted by: Marina Robb

jon cree in mud

Jon Cree

My guest today is Jon Cree, co-author of our book, “The Essential Guide to Forest School and Nature Pedagogy”. For more than 40 Years he has been reconnecting people of all ages to the natural world. 

Jon is a founding director of the Forest School Association, and passionate about how the Forest School approach can help youngsters who find traditional schooling a challenge. 

For me, he shows how someone with so much experience can remain humble and with an exuberance for learning – he is no doubt one of the leading practitioners in the world in relation to outdoor learning, forest school and models that facilitate more compassionate relationship in our communities. 

He’s also Lead training on our Circle of Life Rediscovery 'Certificate for Nature-Based Practice.'

Jon’s passion is reconnecting people of all ages to the natural world with a view to facilitating more compassionate relationships in communities. As Jon often likes to quote – the brain feels before it thinks, and he feels this is key to building relationships.

He likes nothing more than telling stories around the fire and helping others find their ‘voices’ to create stronger connections, he contributed to and co-edited the acclaimed book ‘Storytelling for a Greener World’.

Jon has been involved with outdoor natural world learning for over 40 years and in that time worked with many young people, especially teenagers challenged by our education system, particularly in the woods – making, running, and playing. You can often see him with a hatchet and other hand-tools in hand.

Jon has been training educators from many different backgrounds in outdoor and nature-based learning for at least 35 years (from whole school training programmes through to youth services, environmental NGO’s). He has been an earth education trainer with the international Institute for Earth Education since 1992 – having been involved in many earth education programmes at a number of centres in the UK and Europe. This brings to bear his deeper ecological understanding of how our planet operates ecologically – based on an environmental degree and conservation masters.

In the last 20 years Jon worked at Bishops Wood Centre where he was a member of the Forest School team for Worcestershire County Council and coordinated the Forest School and environmental education training programme at this widely recognised sustainable education centre. In this time Jon has increasingly got interested in the emotional literacy aspects of working outdoors, finding Forest School an ideal programme to explore this more deeply.

Jon can often be found wending his way down the River Wye in a canoe, crafting furniture for small people, and sat round a campfire weaving a story. Jon is a director for Wild and Rooted CIC and The Bramblewood Project CIC.

In this episode, We dive into:

  • What underpins a healthy model of education?
  • How love really is an essential ingredient.
  • A new model of partnership rather than domination
  • Discovering wholehearted learning
  • The role of love and understanding our needs
  • Neurobiology and our nervous systems
  • How we do this in our practice

Music by Geoff Robb: www.geoffrobb.com 


The Bramblewood Project
The Bramblewood Project includes weekly Forest School and alternative provision for a combination of referred and home educated. We also run health and wellbeing for adults in mental health recovery.
Look out for the up and coming project is a long-term craft and poetry project with the land funded by the local authority ‘public health budget’. The site has ongoing local community members engaging in caring for the site – its forest garden, and wilder places as well as the structures on site.

Certificate for Nature-Based Practice:

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(transcribed by AI so there maybe some small errors!)

Marina Robb: Hello, and welcome to the Wild Minds Podcast for people interested in health, nature based therapy and learning. We explore cutting edge approaches that help us improve our relationship with ourselves, others and the natural world. My name is Marina Robb, I'm an author, entrepreneur, Forest School outdoor learning and nature based trainer and consultant, and pioneer in developing green programs for the health service in the UK. 

Welcome back to season four, it's good to be back again. And I hope you're all doing really well. Well, we're beginning this season with episode 25. Why love matters. My guest today is my friend and co author of our book The Essential Guide to Forest School and nature pedagogy. For more than 40 years, John has been reconnecting people of all ages to the natural world. He's the founding director of the Forest School Association in the UK, and passionate about how the forest school approach can help youngsters who find traditional schooling a challenge. For me, he shows how someone was so much experience can remain humble, and at the same time have a massive exuberance for learning.

He's no doubt one of the leading practitioners in the world in relation to outdoor learning for a school and models that facilitate more compassionate relationships with our wider communities. He's also the lead trainer on our certificate and nature based training. Let's get going. So welcome John Cree to the wild minds podcast. I've been so longing to have you on this show. So I'm just super happy and excited to have you here.

Jon Cree: Yeah, it's felt like a long time of longing ever since remember talking about inception of the podcast and then hearing your first couple which I was in tears, particularly when the second one. And now we're on what episode? I can't remember.

Marina Robb: You're right. We're actually at the beginning of season four. And I think it's episode sort of 25 or something. So yeah. Well,

Jon Cree: I think it's probably good that it's been till now it's sort of Yeah, something

Marina Robb: been cooking.

Jon Cree: Yeah, it's been cooking.

Marina Robb: Yeah. Well, before we dive in, I mean, I just always start with gratitude. And I know this is something that we share, both in our work and in our friendship and in the writing that we've done. So I know you're going to say yes to this. I don't have anything I have to ask your permission. But actually, what I wanted to start with is gratitude on just being able to laugh, because I often have to, you know, before we start talking, it's like, well, what is my gratitude, you know, what's real for me, and I was already laughing a little bit with you, but giggly and I thought that I'm really grateful for that. Because it doesn't happen all the time. And it does relax me. And when I laugh, it's kind of like a bit of silliness. A little bit of just a sprinkle of goodness that comes into every day. So I'm grateful for laughter with you. And I'm grateful for love to generally and yeah. I wonder if you'd share some gratitude. Oh, thanks for that.

Jon Cree: Oh, you've made me tingle. And I guess I'm just feeling that tingle and gratitude for my body. It's just that sort of whole thing and the way that somebody else's laughter can infect somebody else's body and my body even through the airwaves like this electronically, so I'm just really grateful that I have this nervous system. That's the Malian that does that. And all gratitudes that go with that in terms of that resonance with other life. Some grateful for that resonance with other life, I guess. Yeah. I think felt a little tingle.

Marina Robb: Yeah, thank you. Well, there's just absolutely so much that we could talk about. And, you know, I want to let listeners out there know that me and John, well, we work together on lots of different programs. But we've also written the book that's called The Essential Guide to Forest School in nature pedagogy. So I'm bringing that up, because it kind of says, a lot of what we're into both of us and, you know, I've already said in the introduction, that, you know, you've got so many years experience working with young people and the outdoors. And that's not just under the banner of forest school. But I know what's important to both of us is, I suppose, living well, but also, you know, how to be a part of changing something for the better. And I think for us, it's been in education and in health. Yeah, so I guess I'd love to start with a little bit of a conversation on as a human, you talked about your body, right? So as a human, what are some of the things that you think are really important, about being well, just as a general way in and then we're going to look at some of the other things, no doubt.

Jon Cree: Being well means that I can move really important by saying I was out yesterday, harvesting Willow with a local, well, internationally known basket maker, artist. And there's just something about movement with Jenny and harvesting Willow and sorting it and at the same time, because we're, well, we're outside, but we're having this healthy conversation as well about life about being grandparents. So there's something about at the moment, I'm so glad I'm in the mid 60s That I am well that I can relish being a grandparent and actually do the things with a three year old and six months old. But if I wasn't, well, I probably couldn't do, for example, that I can travel across the country to Sussex and work with you later this week. Be with a load of health practitioners. And honestly, to be able to hold space because you need to be well to be able to hold space with, with the groups that we work with, and in the community that I'm with. So I guess that's just some of the things that come to mind at the moment. Because community is important. It's all part of that wholehearted living, isn't it really to being connection with the human community and the more than human community? Which is why I think I've led a blessed privileged life because I've always been outside with people. That's been my race on that someone getting my vitamin D at the same time?

Marina Robb: Yeah, well, life, I guess I'm thinking, you have worked for so many years outdoors, but you've also focused on working with a lot of people who have had more challenging upbringings or challenging situations. Thinking about the teenagers that you work with, and you know, you do a lot of trainings around needs. So there's something around being well, physically. Yeah. And you've mentioned about the importance of community already. But what about our basic needs, because in a way, what I would like to do is think about, because I think, you know, people out there, we don't get taught this stuff, we don't get taught a way of thinking, okay, these are actually my needs, not our wants my needs. And actually, when we don't have those needs met, then things can start to go a little bit challenging. Yeah, you know, and I, in a way it's taken many years, both within our society to start naming some of those needs. So just for people that don't know when, when we say needs or the things that help us be well, could you just kind of frame that a little bit and then we can kind of go,

Jon Cree: definitely, yeah, I mean, it's interesting. Anybody in education will get taught when we go to teach trading. I think we still do get taught about what our basic needs are in the content. So Maslow's hierarchy of needs. And it's quite interesting looking at Maslow, he's worked a lot with indigenous communities, which I've only recently found out about, and how the hierarchy has got a little bit co-opted by politics, if you like, our social system in the West, and we forget, actually, that hierarchy was something that he saw wasn't necessarily true to humans. And we often see, because of that, that our basic needs are just the physical needs, the need for shelter, the need for food, that need for warmth, to sort of just look after the physicality of the body, being the basis of everything else. And eventually, we might get to that self actualization need at the end, and actually, what happens in indigenous communities is turned on its head, it starts off with self actualized, when we're born, we are self actualized.

We are immediately in the moment, having those rich, visceral experiences. And what we're building towards if we go back to our homo sapiens, our real true human is to this community, of living together where all our needs, including the physical needs, but the need for love needs for some autonomy within that. The need for a big need for play. Because without play, life's not worth living. So just sitting down and watching the Six Nations at the moment, for me, that's my play time issue. Particularly if I'm sitting down with a group of friends, and we're, that's, that's pop play. Adult play that okay, yeah. And that's essential, but look forward to enriches life, it brings joy, all of that as well as going out swinging around a fire in the woods.

So yeah, we've got all those physical needs. But actually, the most important one is going back to what I was saying, beginning with gratitude for is this community and it committed the Glover communities love will not mean just Eros, the mean, love for them. It's sort of like yesterday working with a willow worker, I've sort of I know her daughter really well, because she's best friends with my youngest daughter, when he met Jenny a couple of times. So we had such a connective day yesterday. And I felt there was a bit of love exchange, even though we've only just met each other properly for a whole day. And it was just from that, we started talking about common interests, which you do. So we're gonna go canoeing together. And she's going to teach me some more complex weaving and I felt a little tug of love. And we scattered out word, don't we, but it is, for me, that's the most universal need. And with love comes other needs.

We need an accompaniment, which is a big thing, we all need care. We all need that compassion. That's what we I think we're all seeking. But amongst that we also want some autonomy and power over our lives. So that's quite a long answer to that piece thing but I just think it's so important having worked with youngsters I've sort of right from the start seeing eye to see our relationship rather than a learning relationship. It's the first thing is just looking at it, what are their needs, so they can feel so fulfilled and get to that actualization be part of that because our Western society takes it as sort of top of the hierarchy further on in life almost rather than it actually invert. It's right at the start of life in our in true indigenous ways. If you go back in our ancestry

Marina Robb: Yeah, it's, it needed a long answer. Because here we are back at love. And it is curious to me how it often feels that is, you know, I remember actually growing up and being, you know, a teacher as well and actually, I don't think we ever mentioned love. Love is love, you know, that feeling of love and care and, of course, having a sense of love towards yourself, meaning that you actually can in a sense to care for your be caring towards yourself to sort of soothe yourself and stuff like that is so important and so absent. And I'm wondering when you when I hear you speak, I'm thinking about a lot of the settings, a lot of the school settings. And it doesn't feel like it has those qualities. And I want to kind of be careful here because I don't want to participate in kind of slagging off teachers in any way. No, you know, and I know you don't.

And I would be saying the same for health practitioners, we know how much is put upon them, and how stressful it is in the environment, and how, you know, so many demands. So, just want to name that, you know, let's put that aside. However, when I go into those environments, I wouldn't say there's a lot of that feeling that you're describing. However, I would say, in the settings that we're in, outdoors, though it's not overtly named. Love, there is this, as you say, this kind of being alongside having those joyful moments. And also being alongside those sad moments. So there's a difference going on, I think, in our school systems. And, I'd love to talk to you more about that, because I know that there's so many places we can go with this. But if wellness has a connection to this wholehearted community and attends to needs, how can we do this more in a school setting and what's actually going on?

Jon Cree: So I just wanted to start off by reinforcing what you've just said, we're talking about system generally, because there are schools I walk into, and you immediately get it, you get that feeling, you know, it's happening, despite us being in this hierarchical dictatorial system, because the curriculums dictated from Westminster in this country, very much so. And Ofsted and that trickles down to the people who are delivering that system. And sometimes it can be really hard for schools, but having been into lots and lots of schools. So mu, you know, actually, this is a caring, nurturing, loving community, you just get that feeling right from the initial critic greeting and welcome. I just wanted to name that that it's, it is just the general system we're in not the individual schools, and teachers who are trying their damnedest miss very stressful times. And I think it sometimes gets worse, when it gets more stressy.

We're now probably in the biggest funding crisis in education, and possibly, and the health system. And because of that, that trickles through, doesn't it, it seeps through, then we've got lots of nervous systems that are in this heightened state, or in this dissociative state to deal with the stresses. of lack of status. When in my lifetime, teachers used to be revered, respected a lot. And it's that shifted a lack of resources, bigger class sizes, or kradic curriculum. So I've got less quality time to have. So those are all the reasons why we can walk in and think actually, that's why the love isn't coming through so much. Because it does take time and effort to get to know every individual child wouldn't have got class sizes that are over 30, all of that in the primary sector. And a lot of brick secondary schools, which got bigger and bigger and bigger. And I've seen that in my lifetime, just these big super schools that just it's not another human scale. So I think we have to try and get back to that human scale somehow. And I think we've got to seriously look at teacher training. Would that mean every teacher should be said right at the start if you don't love them?

This is not the profession for you. Example, and I think we have to really sort of push that message home. Because we know from all the neurobiology and the neuroscience on this we've got our emotional circuits which are all over the brain and in the body. In that attentive state, it's not stressed then we're not going to Get into the full problem solving executive functioning way. Because the two go hand in hand, the left and the right lobes go hand in hand, but we've concentrated on the left lobe very much so in this society it is a whole system. And I think that's where the whole smokiness comes in. For me, we've forgotten that actually, the main reason we got a brain is to look up to the body and the body feeds up to the brain.

That is the main reason we have a brain, we have a brain that's so complex. It's because it's looking after this body that is just can do all sorts of things. And we have imagination and all the rest of it. But it's prime, fortunately, is to look after the body. And we I think we've forgotten that. And to look after the bodies and if we put the other bodies under stress, so if we're raising children at a very young age, they're going they're shutting down. And yet you look at all indigenous culture, that operation doesn't happen. It's no aggression. At all, the zoning community care. Yeah, it's as important for raising a child as we know, I mean, that old adage, it takes a village to raise a child is so true.

Yeah. I don't know if that answers your question. I just think I've got this thing about just our health systems or education systems. There's something about like human scale, it's so important. My dad died just before Christmas. And it was in the main hospital in Oxford and the main consultant he was on. reached the care was amazing. And the consultant who worked at the biggest hospital in Bristol and the biggest hospital in Nottingham, which I'm super hospitals, and he said, the reason you've had such good care here is this is a small hospital, and we had it start off as thorough as big but and then when we got we were going for five days, just looking after being with Dan.
It did get smaller, and it didn't take long to walk to where he was, and it was suddenly realized, and he hit the nail on that day he died. He said, that's why I've stayed here, because it's a small hospital. Really interesting seeing that quality of care, compared to my mum, who was up in Nottingham, where she hated having to go for one. And with the QE two on the other end, and it took ages it was not, it's not good for her, who was an infirm old lady in a wheelchair, scared about where to park and all the rest of it, I got to get across this great big hospital. And that sort of you get that feeling from the staff as well, that is sort of the roll button more compartmentalize and not such. It's not so wholesome and holistic. Because you can't have that connection. So something about scale?

Marina Robb: Absolutely, I think it's really important. In fact, I was reading the newspaper at the weekend, which I don't do very much anymore. But it was saying I can't I mean, this is shocking, it was saying that a third of secondary school students are not going to schools because of their levels of anxiety. And again, I know we're both, you know, involved and care personally about mental health. And, you know, this was a reputable newspaper, you know, saying this, so I would suggest as well, that there's a biological, physiological response going into an environment with 1000s of young people, where you're having to watch very carefully what's going on, you know, your neuroception your high alert, you know, what, so and so we're gonna say, house what says so gonna react? How do I look? All those things that we know, we remember? I mean, I can remember it too, you know.

So they're big environments. And on some level, they're really are quite scary. However, this is what we've got at the moment. And I think it is interesting, because I've also been thinking how, how things change and this while like we know as being very much part of the forest school movement, how actually within these big environments primary and secondary and nursery. Why? One of the reasons it's definitely worked just because in a way the schools have carved these spaces within the big machine have said, okay, you know, every Friday or every Thursday morning They're gonna go out and they're gonna go out in smaller groups. And this is part of their everyday school life. Obviously some schools do it, you know, throughout the year, others do it for sections, don't they? But I think there are ways of working within these big systems to create smaller spaces.

You know, yeah, so I think, but you're absolutely right size, size is really important. And then of course, this Nakane of the size is then the quality of the relationships. Yes, yeah. And if we're saying A prime need is, which we are saying is this relational quality, you know, to feel listened to, to feel, you know, witness to feel we have value for that person, then it's something that is, is essential. And I guess what we would call good pedagogy or, you know, good environments, regardless of what you call it.

Jon Cree: Yeah, definitely. Because it does take time to build those relationships. I think, particularly now, we've got so many distractions with the screen. And having said that, I even I felt the resonance right at the start, but you don't really get that visceral feeling unless you are alongside somebody physically. And you get it even more when you're alongside somebody and sharing it with other non human elements of our world, many other plants, animals, rocks, soils, all the rest of it. And we combined the two is there's just because we are built with lived with it for 1000s and 1000s of years, and it is in our genetic makeup, we just have to get back to that old Biophilia hypothesis, which is, you know, has been taken on board by the health service, for example, probably not in education is not common term.

But it's there that we have this innate genetic, emotional connection, not just to humans, but to certainly other higher order mammals, when you look at the way they think and feel. That in our mammalian in our brain, this is not the lizard brain isn't just here, we've realized in reptiles, there's actually caught the neocortex, that which is the bit where it will be assigned to humans, bits of neocortex in reptiles. So it's, we're finding this out more and more that our neurobiology is so different, so similar in many ways to all sorts of animals. And we don't just have this primitive lizard brain that sends us into fight and flight is it's all connected.

It's where the whole something comes in. It's completely all connected. And I think we get that more visceral, feeling more if we're outdoors in connection with it, listening to Birdsong, hearing the wind in the trees. I know with youngsters, who are challenged by a system, they get it to

Marina Robb: absolutely

Jon Cree: totally get it, and then a knock on effect as they started filming us and getting us to.

Marina Robb: Yeah, I mean, it makes me think, again, about what you were saying about hierarchy. Because you talked about, you know, the way Maslow has been interpreted like a triangle, you know, like a pyramid. And obviously, we often work in circles, what, you know, whether that circles around a fire or sitting in circles, because it flattens the kind of way we relate with each other. And I'd like to talk about that. Because one of the, I mean, I've been really thinking about over the last few months about punishment, and discipline and self punishment, in a way, we talk to ourselves internally, and how quite scarily, in my opinion, I started to see it in lots of places, this kind of dominating way we often are in this world, you know, whether, actually how close we might be to, if we don't behave, what might happen, and we could take that in all kinds of ways, but let's start with a school system.

And again, it's not the individual teachers necessarily, but I've got, you know, because we work with a lot of the disenfranchised the people that actually have left school, you know, I know many of our years have been working with, you know, private that proves you know, people are feral units and all those I forgotten now, what they all children and all those kinds of children so, and you know, what often is said But when you when they're outside or in the settings, which isn't so hierarchical, suddenly you've got these lovely young people, you know, and it's not always lovely, I get it, you know, of course not that, you know, it's there's a lot of risk reactions and defensiveness in that in those settings too, of course, but there's something about flattening and I'd love to talk about what you think's going on there, you know, a little bit, you know, about these, you know, this idea of a kind of dominating system dominating, you know, us on the top kind of looking down saying you must do this or hang on, you haven't done it. Right, wrong, right, wrong constantly, to this kind of more sense of partnership model. What do we mean by that? And what would you like, what could you share about that? So I think it's really important, I think this is, we're talking about a change in, in quite fundamental changes in the way we would like, things to work aren't? Well, we,

Jon Cree: yeah, we are, again, is that just to reinforce, it's not denigrating individual teachers, or even some individual schools, but with we're in this system. Where, I think since the Industrial Revolution, we've wanted people to comply to what society wants, and we felt like cogs in a wheel. And to get people to actually just be so focused at being this cog in the wheel, we've come down on the side, we're going to do it through coercion. Through punishments and rewards, and the I guess the biggest reward is to pay back at the end of the day. And yet, we know looking at health, and well being enjoying all the rest of it, there comes a point where that pay packet doesn't. But that's always the big reward isn't it is we're going to get paid more, therefore, we can enjoy life more, but we may have to really grind it out.

For most of our lives, get the enjoyment from it just and it's shown that it doesn't correlate that there's only so much money that we need to get the basic physical needs of money and the old Beatles song money can't buy love. Buy Me Love. All of that is going back to one of our most fundamental needs, is that but another fundamental need we're talking about is autonomy. And I think that was where the punishment and reward system backfires on itself. Because we've got somebody else trying to control us, when we use all that controlling language. If you don't do that, then I'm going to do this to you. Right down to family, and we do it as parents.

Marina Robb: Yeah, if you don't do the hard, it's really don't go to bed tonight,

Jon Cree: probably. You're not going to get that toy.

Marina Robb: Yeah, I've done that.

Jon Cree: We've all done it with food, because we're in that culture. And you know, what happens and just seeing it with particularly with a grandchild at the moment, even the slightest thing that we all do, you can see this suddenly, there's a bit of shame, coming in with the three year old, who's totally bombed your teeth and goes into the shoulders and wants to hide because they've done something wrong, that they're not sure why or what because I've got this basic need to play at the moment. Back to that big need. And you're coming in here with my adult agenda with your adult agenda. And I'm not enough yeah. So it does backfire on us. And then when we get people going, well, if you and this isn't I'm not feeling fulfilled, therefore I'm either go into gonna go into fight and my body does go into fight and my thinking body says, right, I've got to protect myself here.

So I'm gonna go into fight, and then come out of my thinking by the and it's getting into fight, or I'm gonna go into flight and need to run away from it. Or, and this is a dangerous one, I'm going to shut down. I can't engage with this anymore. Shut down. And we now know all the inflammatory diseases, internal inflammatory diseases are due to that stress and shutting down and organs literally shutting down. And I think there's something about the sort of education of people not just in the education profession, but even in the medical profession and they're knowing more and more about this that that dissociation is one of the biggest causes of all diseases, diabetes, for me, the whole premise that all of it, which is the inflammatory diseases, we now know is to do with this response for our nervous system to shut down.

And I don't, I can't deal with that anymore. We have the biggest mental health crisis we've ever had in the UK now in the US, and around the planet. Now, percentage wise. I don't think we get that or debate, it's not to certainly not broadcast a time, I don't think it is crisis for in this public crisis at the moment. And the antidote to that is empathy, compassion, love, care, feeling part of community where I've got a bit of autonomy, and I can actually bring what I've got to bear the thing we have to get right down to even the smallest ways we talk, going from this demanding nominative language to a much more observational language. Oh, I can see You're upsetting your claim. And I think if we could go to bed, you may get more sleep and feel good tomorrow rather than the right I'm gonna punish you for not going to bed by depriving us this. So if we can get to that more empathic language?

Marina Robb: Yeah. It's interesting, because I think that the argument or one of the arguments is that when it it kind of does work, you know, work? Well, it works in the short term, we comply? Mostly, we behave. You know, and we learn I mean, you know, I, and I think we forget that we're all we're doing this, as adults were socially complying. You know, I don't say that. Because if I say that, I'm gonna have that reaction. So we're always doing it. But like you say, at what cost? Do we shut down both physiologically, but also, knowing our needs? Being able to say, actually, I really love that, why, why can't I go and investigate? How soil works? You know, why, you know, it's a constant, kind of like, no, no, you can't do that. Now, you have to do that, but I'm not interested in that. Okay.

You know, and then I get punished. Somehow, and in there, I know, you know, I know from my own self that we, I guess we start dismissing ourselves, and we end up not really knowing ourselves. We're not really knowing what brings us joy. What doesn't bring us joy? Yeah, that's really important, too. You know, what we don't like? So it does have huge ramifications. And I guess I'm wondering, within a school system, you know, because when we work within a kind of less hierarchical system, we often talk about guidelines or things that are going to keep us safe, don't we, we kind of, it's this participatory way of holding a group and we are holding a group, it's not that there aren't any boundaries, right? It's not a freedom, free for everything. But we are holding this group, there's a sense of integrity within ourselves saying this is okay. And this is not okay. However, here we are, as a group, let's code, participate and think what's going to work here what's going to work, you know, and then we have a chance to engage. And like you said, I suppose we're consenting.

Jon Cree: And that's the thing we're consenting, I don't think when the hope in all of this for me is that we now know, through the neurobiology biological research that's out there, now, we've done so much. And there's so much more to discover about through functional MRI and all the rest of it. But for AI, not just on our brain on our nervous system, seeing how neurons are flowing, the energy flows through our autonomic nervous system. That actually, a much better way to find our potential within society is through that much more connective, less corrosive, empathic way of being and you can see lots of glimmers around that. I mean, there's lots of talk about banning Ofsted at the moment, for example, is this really healthy? And that is getting up to government level?

They are starting to debate do we need an inspection system like this really, is this going against Poppy moment and the creative learning that's needed to get us through these Polly crises that we're facing at the moment? So that's the, the hope for me is that that will trickle through. And I think it is starting to trickle through the fact that far school, I could never have imagined when it all kicked off in the late 90s, that, that be 1000s and 1000s. And 1000s of kids, all over the country, going out on a regular basis, will be possibly just a couple of hours a week, but it's more than there was before. And teachers having that time and space to sit back and observe and really think about these quality relationships and what the real learning is through play that's happening here. And giving children the chance to experiment with, well, if my bag is all about textiles and crafts, well, I can work with that outside, if my bag is that I'm really into maths, then we can work with that. And, and giving people a little bit more autonomy to work with that we're just there on top, we don't necessarily have to be designing a lesson that's just as per the curriculum says it should be, I can explore it in my own way.

Marina Robb: Well, that kind of brings us to teacher training in a way again, because you know, it there is a confidence needed isn't there to feel. And I guess this actually comes from a growing up in an autonomy, a society that gives you more autonomy, because that actually is what builds confidence.

Jon Cree: It does. But it's autonomy within a community. That's the point you can't without the one goes with the other, you can't have both. So there is no such thing as we all realize which manufacturer says there's no such thing as society costume, is, we wouldn't be here as humans, we wouldn't have survived without our tribe. Out in the wild, we wouldn't survive today without having like a community. That's what keeps my wellbeing going is that community and the little wood that I'm part of friendships here and being able to go out with a with a worker that I can see that that community growing, and that's what brings me purpose and joy.

Marina Robb: So how then do we support more of this approach? Is community wholesome approach? Because, again, I think your I absolutely agree with you that if I don't feel that I have, that I belong anywhere, that I'm value that I someone would miss me. I mean, that's my emotional sight, you know, that I'm I have value in a community, then life's pretty lonely blast. Pretty sad. So, how, in your experience, are there basic ways of building that sense of community?

Jon Cree: Yeah, I mean, I'd say it's just getting to know what makes people tick. So if you take the education system, I don't think we have enough room and space as teachers to really get to know our kids to find out what makes them tick so that they know that they can do this. We're talking about a youngster yesterday. And she's at primary school. And she's quite, She's feisty. And sometimes, she likes she loves learning absolutely devours it. But quite often comes home from school saying I hate school. And she hates being told what to do. And she'll come home from some days and say, I love school because she's actually been given a bit of space and time to explore what her passions are. She loves history, by all accounts, to realize delving into all of that. She's only six, seven. She also loves being outside, constantly has to be outside. But she's instead of just looking at the past and what's gone on before.

So it's sort of swings and roundabouts. But I think I'm getting the impression that she doesn't like the demand language that's coming. She much prefers the more Invitational language and the Shall we and the observational language we're talking about. Which takes a shift from our system, which is all about demands. Too much more Invitational observation, or this is what's going on. I'm here to support you and be alongside you. way of being and I think there is something in our training systems that needs to shift. There's something about bringing the neurobiology into our professions much more than it is at the moment to show well as science is showing this now, this is what we need. And if you look at attachment that's sort of come on in leaps and bounds in terms of the neurobiology. So there's knowing that there is a need for safe safety and warmth and containment, clear boundaries. But there's also a need for that soft mutual gaze, shared attention and intention, and focus. And that skin to skin contact. was totally scared of that now, but that's so important rhythmic movement, synchronized movement, in terms of body based pleasure in terms of smiles, laughter, and clay, if you like fun. The alternation between arousing activities and time for quiet reflection, all of those things, and their need for connection to the modern human are essential for healthy relationship and attachment and healthy learning and healthy lives. We know that through all the neurobiology that's coming through.

Marina Robb: Yeah, I mean, I'd like to kind of, sort of pull this last bit together around that, because, of course, we wouldn't be doing the work we're doing. If it wasn't about really feeling this deeper connection with the natural world and how that's saved our lives, informed our lives, has given us great joy. And I feel that it's in this conversation, it's important to explore just a little bit around how that needs to underpin our education and our and our systems that economic all these systems need to be underpinned by this familiarity, if you like this understanding of that this wider eco system that's informing us, but not from a rational perspective, but from a sense of, of love. Perhaps you know what that is, because we can't harm the things we love, you know, I really feel like that we protect most of us would, well, we jump in, if our child was in danger, you know, and pull them out, we just go whack straight away, we read and think about it, our whole body would respond. And then we go home. Yeah. And there's something going on here that that we're just not reacting or we were, you know, we're not. And I know, there's lots of reasons, but just to kind of, I'd love to just speak to that, because it is so important in our work, we wouldn't be doing this work. If it wasn't for building those, those attachments to the natural world. I just wonder if you could kind of speak to that. And perhaps we then there, yeah.

Jon Cree: I've just gone, I've just gone to Gaza, just only because and the olive groves, which are the places of peace, both for Israelis and the Palestinians. And there's a reason to that. And there's a commonality there in terms of that being one of the olive basins of the world, if you like and digging back into ancestry that's always connected to the natural thing that's grown there. That's in our physiology. And I think sometimes you have to peel back those conflicts and say what commonalities have we got here? And often it is that connection to the land. I know it's the man they're fighting over, but they forget why they're connected to the land fundamentally, emotionally and physically, not culturally, necessarily. So I'm talking about those basic needs. And this visceral connection that's an emotional connection on that level of this land sustains me put aside the dominant active religious side of it if you'd like and I know there's a spiritual in them we forget there's this common spiritual thread as well both between Jews and Muslims as a common spiritual threat.

So that's why just bring it back to the London the natural world is often the beginning point of resolving conflict and feeling a stake in the world. It's the same here I think you can see it for a school is a level up Some real leveler, between sexes between cultures. And having worked with schools in the middle of Birmingham. And there's a real mix of cultures. But there's a commonality there, I'll never forget the first one first schools we set up in was tissue from first local authority, Stanley road in the middle of Worcester. And parents coming in, suddenly, being in tears, and connecting, because this is the land, this is what we used to do when we're cooking together, cross culture. And it, it's this visceral thing that just really helps, then we can become that and do the real work of play and learning together in community. So having seen it and experienced it time and time again, in some of the most multicultural communities it's powerful stuff. Now, I've been in tears quite a lot when I witnessed that connection happening between people because of the land bringing stuff up this ancestral.

Marina Robb: Absolutely, thank you so much. I'm left with I like just a sense of that. When we go when we look into the other, you know, that there is that connection, and we sort of started the conversation around this feeling in the body of love, and I feel like we've come back to that somehow. And, and I'm happy to stay with that and, and be with that feeling, because it's the thing that's going to keep us going for a long time. So thanks, John. And yeah, speak speaking. See you soon.

Jon Cree: Thanks, Marina.

Marina Robb: Thanks so much for speaking to me, John. What a pleasure. Join me next week for Episode 26, where I discuss behavior as communication, and take a look at the role of punishment in our systems, and the impact of this approach on our well being and potential. Thank you for listening to this episode of The Wild Minds Podcast. If you enjoyed it and want to help support this podcast, please subscribe, share and leave a rating and review wherever you get your podcasts. Your review will help others find the show. To stay updated with the wild mines podcast and get all the behind the scenes content. You can visit theoutdoorteacher.com or follow me on Facebook at the outdoor teacher UK and LinkedIn. Marina Robb,

The music was written and performed by Geoff Robb.

See you next week. Same time, same place