Wild Minds Podcast logo

Episode 32: 
Wrapping Up Season 4: Love, Grief and the call for Ecocide Law


Marina Robb

Hosted by: Marina Robb

In this episode, Marina discusses: 

Episode 32 is the last episode in Season 4! Marina is pulling together some of her thoughts about the last few weeks, and Season 5 will begin on 17th June.

  • What's Ecocide and Why Does It Matter? (https://www.stopecocide.earth/become)
  • How may our hidden School curriculum shape environmental connection?
  • The educational value of stones, leaves, mud and sticks for the early years.
  • The introduction of Ecocide Bill in the UK in November 2023.
  • How do we educate children for a sustainable culture?
  • The scope for using freely available natural resources to teach.
  • Revising punishment, rewards, praise, and grief.
  • Balancing our life at the expense of not harming others.

Music by Geoff Robb: www.geoffrobb.com 

Try Our Free Online Course

Try a few activities from our Forest School Activities Online Training.

Learn a boundary game, make clay eggs and nests, a crown out of willow, a pencil from elder and create your own plaster of paris moulds from real animal tracks!

You may also like....

Subscribe to listen to your favorite episodes!


The Outdoor Teacher Ltd owns the copyright in and to all content in and transcripts of The Wild Mind Podcasts, with all rights reserved, including right of publicity.

You are welcome to share an excerpt from the episode transcript (up to 500 words but not more) in media articles, in a non-commercial article or blog post, and/or on a personal social media account for non-commercial purposes, provided that you include proper attribution and link back to the podcast URL. For the sake of clarity, media outlets with advertising models are permitted to use excerpts from the transcript per the above.

No one is authorized to copy any portion of the podcast content or use Marina Robb's name, image or likeness for any commercial purpose or use, including without limitation inclusion in any books, e-books, book summaries or synopses, or on a commercial website or social media site (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) that offers or promotes your or another’s products or services. 

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

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, for a school outdoor learning and nature-based trainer and consultant, and pioneer in developing green programs for the health service in the UK. You're listening to Episode 32 Wrapping up season four, love grief and the call for Ecocide law. This is the last episode in Season Four. So I'll be seeing you again on June 17. Please feel free to listen back to all the other episodes that exist.

So today I'm pulling together some of my thoughts about the last season. We've talked about why love is so important. If punishment can really work, and how we all ban our wounded feelings to our wild, untamed unconscious. What a great strategy this can be. But as we know, there is usually a greater cost down the road to our health and well being. As we've talked so much about love, inevitably, I've bumped up alongside my own grief and general grief about how losing what we love is inevitably so sad, though, it's very hard to express.

Today, I also remember Polly Higgins, who understood that the Earth needed a lawyer, and who advocated for an international law of ecocide and left this legacy for all of us. I'd like to start with some gratitude for a woman called Polly Higgins, who was a barrister, that work to basically introduce the idea of ecocide. And ad was advocating for an international law that would hold business executives and governments to account by making them criminally liable for the environmental harm that they caused. So she really initiated this campaign on ecocide. And I just want to give a shout out to people out there that are doing that kind of work that is stepping outside of what is considered normal within the field they're in and becoming activists and speaking up for things that they are passionate about.

And as Brene Brown talks about going into the arena, you know, you're putting your head above the parapet, and that invites a lot of criticism. And, you know, you have to whether that criticism, but gratitude for the people that are doing that, and I hope that they can feel our support.

So I wanted to talk about ecocide as well, because it came up in the last episode. And in a way, it was quite shocking to hear that potentially, our education system is supporting Ecocide that actually this hidden curriculum that Claire talked about, is without us necessarily realizing as teachers and as practitioners that we're kind of modeling behavior that supports the destruction of the environment. And it sounded and sounds incredibly dramatic. And yet, when you kind of look at it and go under, underneath, you can actually see that there might be some real truth to that.

That actually is particularly when you think about the early years being absolutely full of plastic that's being used and things like lemons, you know, I remember being in the classroom and you know, talking about giving children the actual direct experience of something and they were just full of like these plastic lemons, when in a way we could have actually bought in a real lemon and touched a lemon and seen what it was like and what it tasted like and the smell it had and the real difference between a plastic thing and a real living thing that was alive, that was on a lemon tree. And what I'm the difference is, but I can already hear voices, you know, people out there going well, it's so much cheaper to buy all these plastic materials and not everybody can go out and buy a lemon and not everybody can have, you know, natural made products. Of course they're now so expensive, aren't they using wood to make kind of toys is more expensive, it requires a craftsmanship. So there is an issue isn't there about the affordability of more natural products. And I'm sure that will be one of the reasons why we say we're not actually inviting in lots of non plastic materials.

But there is truth also, that we're surrounding ourselves with plastic in a school and the things that we're buying the procurement that schools make. If they're not, in any way in line with thinking about the wider impact on the natural world, then we are we're all colluding in the reality that actually what we do is contributing to greater waste, and is reducing the diversity of many of the species out there. I really hope this is not being heard as a blaming situation. But I think when we're thinking about climate change and climate education, and looking at the curriculum, sustainability education, I think it's time that we looked at the wider systemic issues. It isn't just about having nature connection, although that is essential to have that resource to understand the benefits and have an embodied sense of the natural world and why it's valued.

But it isn't just about that it's the systems around, in this case, schools, the systems around the child, that actually just modeling a disregard for the environment that that they're growing up in. And it's happening at all levels, isn't it? So, thinking about ecocide? You know, it's so important that there are laws in place. And in a way these laws are our rules, aren't they? They're the rules that we're following, whether they're rules of society, rules of culture, or rules in school, they are laws and laws can be changed. I mean, Polly Higgins herself said, laws can be changed. Laws can restrict, or they can enable. And I want to say in the back of my mind, I'm thinking the same in terms of rules and schools, they can restrict, or they can enable.

What matters, she says, is what they serve. Many of the laws in our world serve property, they are based on ownership. But imagine a law that has a higher moral authority, a law that puts people and planet first, imagine a law that starts from first do no harm, that spots this dangerous game and takes us to a place of safety. And this is what Polly Higgins was saying in 2015.

And I think there are parallels there with, well, both the possibility of imagining a situation that's different than what we've got not now but also imagining a school or home actually thinking about doing no harm. And I know it's overwhelming when this is part of the what we talk about through the podcast is things can feel overwhelming, and what kind of power do we actually have? And there's truth in that and, you know, there are those that would say, that's also part of the problem that you know, the kind of feeling of impotence is real and that, you know, we're kind of the kind of situation is diverted on to the everyday person that's actually trying to do as much as they can in that would be a teacher also in schools, but really, it's about turning our head to look at the bigger corporations and systems and actually making sure that they're complying, you know, because when we think about ecocide, and you can look up like the campaign that was started by Polly Higgins around ecocide, against ecocide.

And you can see that there are just so many incidences of situations where businesses have been allowed to pollute the sea or allowed to throw sewage, untreated sewage into the sea, for example. And actually very little happens or that or the fines that they have, are very minimal compared to the advantage they have in not having to deal with their waste. So the good news is that I looked this up a little bit and did a bit of research. And it I have found out that in November, last year, November 2023, Baroness Rosie boycott did introduced the new Ecocide bill into the House of Lords in the UK.

And as I understand it, as we are in April 2020, for that, I understand that right now, there are lots of people trying to find out whether it can become law. So please look into this, find out what's going on in your own area. And I think it's important because, you know, I do think that the carrot, you know, this idea of like, giving incentives for us to change is valuable. But I also think that when laws are introduced, that actually makes it very clear what we can do, and we can't do and I remember when, you know, smoking on trains, and buses was just every day, and then they just brought in the law, that that wasn't going to happen and didn't take us long to change our habits. And so I feel positive that laws can really come in and support change, you know, for example, we could have a law that absolutely no plastic was, would be used to surround all our vegetables, for example.

So I do wonder who benefits from actually wrapping up everything that we've got in plastic, for example, but I will be asking these questions as we go through the podcast in the next season. So this is the last episode of this season. And it's been, you know, very interesting. It's been so full of so many different issues. And I guess, one of the key themes that keeps coming up in terms of education is how do we educate children for a sustainable culture?

How can we educate them to be problem solvers, decision makers and change agents? And is the current content of the schooling system at actually adequate? And how can we introduce things that are different? And what are we modeling? So as I said, it is a very cruel pill for me to swallow to think that we are inadvertently hurting children and the planet and kind of be walking through as if we're not conscious of that. And there are things that we'll be aware of, but there are things that we won't be aware of some of the negative impacts that are actually going on.

And, you know, as a forest school practitioner, as a forest kindergarten trainer, I actually have direct experience of working with young people and seeing how possible it is to teach through the outdoors and to teach through natural materials, and to actually introduce practice practitioners to the wonders of sticks and the possibilities of mathematics with sticks, or stories with sticks or stones and thinking about weight and volume, and mud and the possibilities thinking in this case, particularly in the early years, and how so many of those natural materials are obviously free resources. So whilst I can see there's this tension and argument about, well, if we introduced you know, buying more wooden natural products that will be very expensive. I'd also say, particularly in the early years, there's so much scope for using simple, everyday materials, leaves, things like that, to introduce all kinds of curriculum subjects.

And, you know, we there are more, there is more deep training that you can do around that to actually show that's possible. And I guess another massive theme of this season has been around punishment and praise and the role that schools have in well being and in fostering this attachment, this importance of building this secure attachment and feeling that we are safe and that Iines we're safe we can't possibly learn and thrive and the more I look into the history of schooling, and even the history of boarding school, of which so many of our leaders went to you start To see how punishing some of those institutions were, and perhaps still are, I hope that we've given some insight into why reward and punishment doesn't work all the time.

But I want to talk a little bit about praise. Because I think there are different kinds of praise, there's kind of praise that is evaluating, saying that, you know, well done, you've done this, you've achieved this and that, but actually praise in a much wider kind of understanding is really about expressing feelings, that things really matter to us, or that they've done something that's really had an impact on us, and that there's something really genuine and I also think about praise as a kind of sense of being in awe and able to kind of celebrate, I suppose, somebody or something like the beauty of something and the wonder of something.

So I didn't want to throw out praise, because there's something about love in praise that when you really, really love something, then and you can really feel that and communicate that and share that when you really love something, you also know what it is to lose that thing. And so grief and praise are intimately intertwined. And there seems to be a thread also through this conversations that I've been having around being able to express those feelings of sadness and loss and grief and hearing Peter talk about suffering and the importance of suffering and the importance of love, and how somehow these are intertwined this grief and praise and more I think about and, and contemplate our society, we, at least the Western society, we're not really very good at expressing our sadness, and loss and how much pain there is to lose something that we love. And that love is part of this praise, this praise of life. And the two are so important.

And as somebody that works with mental health, and we talk about the windows of tolerance and our tolerance of emotions, before we flip, if you're like into fight or flight or disassociation, this windows of tolerance is this kind of ability to experience this range of feelings and in that way regulate that. But this sense of grief, how many times have we felt lost and not being able to express it? How many times over the generations have we felt loss, and not been able to express it to a point that I wonder now, whether our culture is actually kind of frozen in the expression of those feelings? And I wonder what happens?

What's the consequence of not expressing the grief that we might feel. And I think that links into the love of the planet, the love of the Earth, the love of the land, beneath our feet, and having that opportunity to immerse ourselves and feel that love, whilst at the same time being more and more sensitive to the possibility of losing this? And what does that do when we actually feel that? Does that kick us into action? Does that numb us like so? What are we doing about that? So I think there's so many things to be aware of nowadays, we're being bombarded with so much information and here we are also co creating a society a life a job, hopefully, that we feel has some meaning because this is one life, right? This is the life we have and we are going to die.

So we need to try and yeah, live our life have a strong and full life, but hopefully not at the expense of harming others. But in order to not harm others. We kind of need to be aware of the stuff that's going on inside us our shadows, the parts that we've had exiled. And it all seems to me part of a picture that is important.

At the moment, we know that we're disconnected from nature, we know that most children can identify more corporate logos than they can, the local plants in their area, I know how much value those plants have nutritionally medicinally whether that's plantain on a park, that little lovely leaf that you can put in your mouth and put on a wound, and it actually really helps to heal it, or nettle, you know, full of, you know, potassium and different vitamins, and all these possibilities of plants that make you walk through the landscape. And instead of just seeing green, you start to see different subjects. And that's another thread of the seasons is, you know, life out there are subjects not objects. So are we treating people as objects? Or are we treating people as subjects? And how do we value the other in our lives? And how are we aware? How do we actually become more conscious of our biases, you know, that we have these kind of automatic default settings, with children or other adults that we don't even realize we're doing it because so much of our awareness is unconscious?

So it's okay, isn't it to not know it's okay to have lots of questions and have very few answers. It seems that is part of the lot of being a human. And, well, we can only ask of ourselves to try and be more aware that perhaps we don't know everything, and what is it? What are the little steps that we can do, that may make a difference, some of us have different access to making bigger steps and bigger changes than others. But wonder what we can do in our personal lives, in our community, in our schools, to actually contribute to a benefit or benefit something that's going to bring benefits. You know, there are many more children out there aren't attending schools, I think there was a report recently in The Guardian that 150,000 children in the UK are being severely absent.

So schools are not working for everybody. And at the same time, the schools are heavens for children, that have wonderful people in there that are able to meet the needs of those children and provide a safe space for those children. So Isn't life full of complexity full of in a way contradictions, and I think this season has showed me that I have to learn to more hold the tensions of different views, and to try and listen to what these other perspectives can show me. And I want to work with this idea of more divergent thinking that we can actually incorporate many more perspectives, rather than being kind of flung over to one fact or one truth that we believe to be the only way to think about something. And to kind of leave space for the for the unknown, and the possibility in that.

So with that in mind, I'm going to leave you by asking you what has been some of the best moments of this season for you. And please get in touch to let us know. And I'm really looking forward to seeing you in the next season. Really appreciate your support. And thank you so much for staying with us at the wild mind podcast. This season has reinforced the complexity of life. In schools. There are so many examples of the positive impacts of teachers for children, and how they can be a lifesaver, as well as the most amazing foundation for learning providing so many opportunities. But we know that this simply isn't true for many other young people.

The one size fits all approach doesn't really work. In the next season. My first interview will be with Linda Duprey, who was a head teacher for more than 15 years in an urban state funded primary school and ahead who has championed outdoor learning. It's a great interview. RB explore During the difference between autonomy and accountable autonomy, where it's not just about the self and our own interests, but about addressing the impact and influence we have on each other, and our planet.

I'll be looking into biomimicry and rewilding, I genuinely believe that childhood needs to be a place where we resource ourselves develop our wholeness, so that we can mature enough to weather the inevitable traumas and sufferings that life will bring. And I welcome the bigger questions of what it is to love and die. Well. How can we compost our grief and tears so that something can grow in this well watered soil.

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 Minds Podcast and get all the behind-the-scenes content. You can visit the www.theoutdoorteacher.com or follow me on Facebook at theoutdoorteacherUK and LinkedIn, Marina Robb.
The music was written and performed by Geoff Robb. See you next week. Same time, same place.