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Season 2, Episode 11:
Rewilding Education 

Guest: Dr Max Hope


Marina Robb

Hosted by: Marina Robb

Dr. Max Hope 

Max is Director of Rewilding Education, a collaboration which strives to find ways to make education wilder, freer, more grounded, and more consensual.

They are co-facilitator of Call of the Wild, a Devon-based year-long programme which supports participants to develop personal and professional skills as well as igniting a soul-level connection with the living world.

They co-lead The Lodge, a self-directed, consent-based learning community for home educated children in Herts/Essex which aims – not to rewild – but to support children and young people to stay wilded and stay connected in the first place. They also run Write On Changemakers, an online and in-person project which encourages and supports activists and changemakers to write.

In this episode Marina and Max talk about: 

  • What does it mean to ‘rewild ourselves’? 
  • When do people stop being ‘wild’? in the first place
  • What does it mean to rewild education? 

Music by Geoff Robb: www.geoffrobb.com 



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

Max Hope: What I have the deepest confidence and faith in it is the natural world. Like, if we can immerse ourselves out there, if we can be out there more. Understanding more being in relationship with the natural world. The solace that that might bring to an individual is immeasurable, but also what we can learn about our own human systems and structures and ways of organising, if we look through the lens of how things are organised out there, I really think that this has such a lot of value for us and so that is where for now on the put my faith.

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 for a school outdoor learning and nature based trainer and consultant and pioneer in developing green programmes for the health service in the UK.

You're listening to Episode 11 rewilding education. My guest today is Dr. Max hope director of rewilding education. Max is a facilitator, educator, researcher, activist, and writer. In this episode, we have a lively discussion about what it means to we wild ourselves and be self willed. We consider when do people stop being wild in the first place? And what does it mean to Rewild? Education?

Hi, Max, welcome to wild minds. I'm really excited to have you on the show. I'm actually smiling a lot.

Max Hope: I'm excited to be here. I've been looking forward to this so much.

Marina Robb: Me too. Well, we always do this thing, this gratitude thing before we start, and I guess I've learned too over the years, and it seems to help me anyway. So if you wouldn't mind, I'll share a little bit of gratitude, something that I'm thankful for. It could be something small, something more meaningful, whatever, really, whatever feels right. And then, then I'll pass it to you. And then we'll, we'll get into the conversation. So for me, I am grateful to where I live, because last night I went out and it was almost full moon and I just had that moment of feeling that calmness and the light. So I just grateful to be able to walk out and see that. So yeah, that's my gratitude. How about you?

Max Hope: It's funny, you said the moon because I had the same thing. So I'm in Devon right now, which is always a beautiful place for me to be just on the edge of Dartmoor. And I also looked out last night and saw that moon and then there's something about seeing a moon like that, that. Just yeah. Brings me something so grateful for that.

Marina Robb: That's so nice. Because actually that I often think about that different people around the world. They're looking at the same moon. That's nice. Oh, great. So we're going to talk a little bit about wild wildness rewilding. And, you know, before we get into this, why not have a little conversation about what it actually means to rewild ourselves or what wild means. And I just throwing that to you? Yeah. What does rewilding ourselves mean? To you?

Max Hope: You know, I'm so glad you've asked me that question. Because it's a phrase that gets us such a lot around, I just want to reward myself or during this course, we're going to reward ourselves. And I, I really think it's important to understand what that might mean. And the first assumption is that that just means being out in nature.

And, of course, that's an important part of it. But for me, it's it's so much bigger than that. So I've spent quite a lot of time over the last few years trying to work out what for me is a really simple, simple definition of what it means to be wild. And for me, I've got it down to sort of five key things which are around being untamed, alive, whole, self-willed, and deeply connected to the living world. And those kinds of concepts. so important to me. So what does it mean to reward ourselves? It's around for me, how do we kind of settle back into what is our authenticity and our wholeness? Where do we find what is true for us? Where do we find the person that we really are at our core? And if we can find all of those things, and of course, we find them so much more easily when we're out in nature. If we can find those things, for me, that's what it means to reward ourselves.

Marina Robb: That's really useful to have, like five things that you can kind of, at least start with, you know, when thinking about that, and I, wow, I just think about self-wills, or self-willed. What does that mean? Because when I when I, when I heard that one, the other ones I kind of connect to Yeah, but when I hear SELF Well, or being self-willed, I kind of have this almost like a moody teenager thing, like, it means to do what I want. Is that what it means

Max Hope: I didn't know what the origin of the word wild was, but write somebody who likes to play with words. I learned that, that the origin of the word wild is self-willed. And I think it was Henry David Thoreau who's who explained about wild horses, right?

Now, he said that a wild horse is a self-willed horse, it's not tamed, and that it does not submit its will to somebody else, or to something else, right. So if I think of horses, and I think about like, out on the, you know, prairies or something, those kind of massive herds of wild horses, that are just kind of running in the way that they want to run, and then stopping when they want to stop. And then I think about the concept of, of kind of catching one of those horses and getting it ready to a point of which you can ride it, you know, and, and the phrase for that, as I understand it, is about breaking in a horse, right? So you like what you break in a horse, by first of all approaching it, and then working out how you can put a saddle on it or put, get it to basically submit to your will, that I want to ride the horse, and at the point at which you're able to ride the horse, you say that that horse is broken, right?

Broken in or broken. Now, if for me, if you translate that to a human being, okay, imagining that you have a self-willed human being running those prayers, like those forces, and at some point, we submit to the will of another, often extremely early in childhood, you know, and at the point at which we submit to the will of another, we are being broken in or we are broken. Now that is powerful, powerful thought about children, young people and adults somehow been broken. And for me, returning to being our wild selves, or rewarding ourselves is not about being chaotic, feral, crazy, unmanageable, it's about returning to self. And that for me is is the crucial driver of what it might mean to reward ourselves.

Marina Robb: That is a really helpful reframe for me, because I think I was getting stuck on this idea that, like I said, itself, well is kind of we get to do what we want a little bit spoil, you know, that kind of feeling of being spot on what, and I love that image of Yeah, horse being who that horses are, or me being who I am and being able to express that and to be able to express and explore different parts of who I am. Because, yeah, I don't know. Everything of who I am anyway, you know? And then yeah, having the having enough freedom to do that enough support to do that. And not ending up. Yeah, feeling damaged or broken by either people or systems that I'm engaged with. So that's really, it's really helpful. And I guess I also wonder, though, in my own exploration of what it is to be wild is can we ever be weak or can we ever be alone?

Anyway, like, so what I mean by that horse is running on the prairie, but that horse has an impact on that land as it runs and it needs a certain terrain to run and it needs the air to breathe. He's and all that kind of stuff. And I guess I am always curious about this idea of being never just yourself, but you're always somehow, we're always connected to something else and need, we need the other however, that looks and that I love that word. And I don't know who coined it, that word of like being entangled, that we're entangled with each other. So whilst this notion of being self, you know, self-willed, wild, and returning to self, as soon as I get to the self Max, I kind of go, ah, but there isn't just the self.

Max Hope: Yeah, but isn't. That's why we need to also recognise that we are part of something bigger, because I totally with you, like if you if you fall too far into the way of being that this is all about me, this is all about what I need. This is all about tuning into myself, listen to myself, and it all becomes very, very individual. That for me is out of balance. Because we do live in relationship with other people, whether we live as part of a family, whether we're part of a community, we're part of a group, an organisation, a team, but also we are part of a bigger ecosystem, you know, so you and I started off talking about the moon, you know, now, we could just think, Oh, look at those flaky to talking about the moon.

Actually, like, this is real light, the moon affects me, but the world in which I live, affects me. And, you know, one of the things about going out into the wild or going out into nature is we start to understand that more, you know, like, I don't go and sit in a forest in order to take what I can from that experience. There needs to be some reciprocal thing going on. What is the forest get from me being there? What am I get from the forest? You know, and with rewilding, the beautiful thing about the metaphor of rewilding is rewilding is an ecosystemic way of looking at the world. You know, we have wolves, and we have deer, and we have trees, and we have beavers, and plants, and tiny, microscopic, little bacteria, and we've got funding, all of those things have to operate together as part of an ecosystem. Actually, one of them cannot be entirely self-willed and do its own thing. Because what it does impact on the other, and so with us,

Marina Robb: So then what about because I want to come back to this idea what helped me remember about this very, really important idea about being broken. But what about this idea that I hear so much about? Oh, nature is competitive, you know, and that idea that we've inherited, from, I think, a misunderstanding of Darwin, actually, but this idea that we're all competing to survive? And, you know, it makes me think of that, when you speak that, if we're looking for you had a very good work ecosystemic approach, we'll come back to that as well. But do you think we're all fighting each other for a space? Well, how do you see, you know, the natural world really operating? Do you think there's something we need to really look at here?

Max Hope: Yeah, I do. Because I think that the human lens that we use to view the natural world means that we see certain things and we do not see others, you know, and, and the Darwinian lens is a perfect example there, that what we see is survival of the fittest, what we see as alpha male, what we see is, it's all about this, it's all about that. And so much of that has been totally disproven by looking through other lenses. And so when we look at human beings, are human beings competitive?

Yeah, human beings are competitive, because we've made them so because we've constructed society in a way that makes that inevitable through the way we've set up schools, we've set up our organisations through patriarchy, etc. Yes, human beings are competitive out there in nature is everything competitive or some things are, of course, but some things are massively collaborative, you know, that very well-known example of how geese fly across the sky, and when to get from one place to another when they go in for hundreds of 1000s of miles. They actually are extremely collaborative. They're not competing with one another for who's going to get, you know, the best position or whatever. They only manage it by collaborating. And I think, you know, we often don't use those kinds of examples to inspire us with our human structures. We use those ones which are about survival of the fittest. And you know, that is a huge problem.

Marina Robb: So rewilding ourselves, could also be really I mean, for me, when I, when I think about that, I think about how do I do that in my life? And how have I tried to do that? Because it's always a journey, but I think it is trying to see things through different lenses or meet different people and try and listen, even though I know, I can't see, I can only see a certain thing because of my history and the way the way I've, where I am, you know, so I need help to see other things. Always. Would you say that's an element of rewilding ourselves is to almost loosen up enough to be able to try and see things through different lenses?

Max Hope: Yeah, I think it is that and I think it's also, you know, fairly, might sound fairly simple, but even to recognise that the way in which we are perceiving the world is, is through a lens. So, you know, for me, part of rewarding is to, is to recognise that, oh, like, maybe I don't have to do that in a certain way. I see that other people do things in a different way, you know, so you know, simple things about different types of social obligation. Of course, I need to go to that birthday party, of course, I must buy gifts for this person.

Of course, I must work this hard in order to survive, of course, I must strive to have my own home, or what have you, like, all of that is a set of assumptions based on a lens through which we have been made to look. And there's something very powerful about realising that there are actually other ways of looking what, oh, maybe I don't have to do that. Well, in that case, what would I do instead? Can I actually tune into myself? Can I get to that point of knowing what my own self will wants me to do? Can I find a way of sort of untamed myself to get to the point of recognising what I would freely choose? And in order to do that, we have to step out from behind the lens that we're so often very, very attached to, to recognise that there are other ways of being

Marina Robb: Wow. And that makes me go back to being broken. I mean, that's actually very, it's very moving and quite emotional with that image of the horse. I really appreciate you bringing that in right at the beginning. Because, you know, I've not seen it like that, in that way that knowing full well that there's Yeah, this the domestication and also the horse, in a way, concedes that, in a way concedes that. And that's quite complicated. In my mind, when does somebody give permission?

So that's a human when does it when? Or if, do we give permission as a human? And what about an animal? You know? It's, it's strange, because it makes me think about it was it Skinner isn't the behaviourist model that makes us all automatic, you know, like, so the horse is broken, and we will break that horse, and then the horse will do what we want. And that's because it's an animal, it doesn't have any emotions, it doesn't have any self-will, you know, it's an object in a way that then, you know, gets, what's the word? It's like that Pavlov idea, you know, gets you it gets into a routine, and then it just does it and it doesn't have any, any ability to think for itself or feel for itself or anything like that. And yeah, it's a strong thing, because then what has happened to us? Or what is happening to me or you as adults, but also as children what is happening then, when do we end? Why do we lose our sense of self? You know, and why does that matter?

Max Hope: I mean, listening to you talking about the horses there, Marina, like the way that you're presenting it about how humans may, you know, feel or respond to horses. Like we know that's not true. Yeah, we totally know that that is not true. Like I saw the research the other day that you know, it's been demonstrated now that bees are sentient beings be as a highly intelligent sentient beings, that's a be like, we're talking about horses, what horses managed to do equine therapy, etc. Like these are highly intelligent beings.

So it's astonishing to me that as human beings we have managed to get ourselves to the point of Thinking, we somehow own and control these animals, and that they have no need to do anything else. In fact, they're probably grateful to it, they love being ridden, they enjoy it, they, you know, all of those kinds of things. And but also, it's worth remembering that most people who ride a horse these days, they don't ride a wild horse, they ride a horse that generation after generation after generation has been bred for this Rhino. And again, if you if you translate that to, to humans, also, children do not start out as wild children with this is also generationally, what is it that has been passed down? You know, how do adults believe that children need to be treated is how they were treated, and how their parents treat and how their parents were treated like that, that is also, you know, transmitted culturally. And what I really see in my life, and also, you know, more generally, is that adults believe that children need to be treated in particular ways, in order to be grew up, as, you know, decent human beings, and that there is a strong element of coercion and control in there. You know, children need to be taught certain things they need to behave in certain ways. There's kind of cultural and social assumptions about what children should or shouldn't do, you know, everything from, you know, girls must do this, boys must do this. It's rude to talk to adults like this, it's rude to ask questions, you know, adults know best about what children should eat, or what children should wear. And, you know, if there's so much that starts, from the very second that they're born, which is starts that process of taking them away from themselves.

Marina Robb: And I guess, part of me thinks, and I can almost hear some listeners, let's say going, but of course, you know, of course, we should learn to sit at the table, and, you know, not spill our food out of our mouth, or say, please, and thank you, you know, absolutely, you know, why shouldn't I do what my ad the adults say? You know, they know what's best, you know, because they're adults, and they're all there are elders. And I kind of feel quiet, and then alongside that, I'm feeling kinda like, is it did someone? I mean, if someone winning here, like, who gets to benefit from making the rules? Because this, this is a big question, isn't it who gets to benefit? And, and this is someone's, because I often hear in these conversations. There's almost like a conspiracy thing that someone's doing it to us, you know, and I really want it I'm also saying that respectfully, because I also hear the generational stuff that you've just mentioned, but is someone doing it to us? Or have we even forgotten how this happened? Do you know and why? Ah, who is? Is there someone benefit benefiting? Am I naïve? I mean, you know, is there an agenda here? Big Questions. I know, I know. I know. I'm sorry. But it's making me. But I've always been someone that has these questions, questions, questions, and then I go a little bit off track. I appreciate it. But what's going on here, then? You know,

Max Hope: I mean, there are so many questions there. And I'm stuck with the image of like, well, how does the child learn to eat in a particular way on the food? Yeah. You know, like, like, I just want to pick up on that to say, I am not saying that children need to raise themselves. I'm not saying that adults have no role. We just totally say children can learn everything they want to learn, do everything they want to do, they can do it entirely on their own. Like, No, they can't. This is about partnership. This is about relationship. This is about connection. Of course they can't, you know, like, adults need to support children with certain things. Yeah. That's how human beings learn other animals in the wild, actually, by the time the child, the infant, whatever that is, the parents gone.

That is not the case with humans. So, you know, children are not expected to raise themselves. But also, there's a question for me around power. And you know, the rest of your questions really there. Were all around power. Is it that holds the power Who is it that benefits from wielding it? Right? Now, you know, children, I don't want children to have all the power. But I also don't want adults to have all the power. You know, like, how can a child have their power within themselves to make some decisions and to be self-willed? And how can adults do that for themselves? And how can they manage this dance between the two of them to work out a way that actually works best for everybody without one having to willpower over another?

Marina Robb: I love that. Because how can we do this without breaking each other? Yeah, isn't it? Isn't it? And the other is, how can we do this? By enhancing each other?

Max Hope: Yeah, for sure. That's a beautiful way of looking at it. And this is mutual. This is mutual. You know, like, I know, myself, that my life is massively enhanced by the children in it. You know, I know that. I'm so grateful for that.

Marina Robb: I know that too. Yeah.

Max Hope: And I also hope that their lines are enhanced by having me in it, you know, like, that will be a wonderful thing to know, one day at the end of your life that that's the child's life was enhanced by having you in it. Like, that's something to aspire for, isn't it?

Marina Robb: I totally agree. Yeah. You know, but the whole thing about, about control and power and domination and who's wielding the most power and who gets broken? And like, I don't, I don't want that to be where I'm at in my life.

Marina Robb: So this idea of rewilding ourselves, I mean, you know, our sales employs the personnel at the moment. And we haven't got to the system yet. I think we're going there. You know, but would you say it has to start with ourselves?

Max Hope: Yes, I would. I think that, you know, like, the conversations that I've had, for example, with facilitators or teachers who have such a concern about how to help young people be rewarded, how to how we can reward others, and is the May a conversation which is starting in the wrong place. Because for me, like, I do feel so strongly in terms of like, do I have a theory of change about how we change the world? Yes, I do. And it's about starting with ourselves, you know, like, we do this work with ourselves for ourselves. And from that ripples will flow from that we will therefore be in much better position to help and support others in their processes. But we start with ourselves.

Marina Robb: I have a quote here from something that you've written. And I think it was a reflection. And it's thinking about young people. And it says, despite being labelled as failures, by the school system, they could actually be creative, intelligent and highly motivated. They had simply been failed by a system that was not set up to meet their needs. And I've pulled this out, because I feel really sad that so many people, I actually, in, in almost I could almost say everyone in different ways. Feels not good enough or failed, and some people way, way, way more than others who are not benefiting. Who don't feel well don't even feel good enough to live right. Yeah, what's going? I mean, I took that from your writing, because I know that just as you said, you can you're you've been enhanced by young people. And you've seen something in being around so many young people and adults over your life. And what are you saying in that phrase? Shall I say it again? Joy to that one more time, or you've got it?

Max Hope: Now I've got it. That is particularly in relation to work that I did when I worked as a youth worker with young people aged 14 to 25 in a extremely socially economically deprived area of the country. And I was really shocked about how people had been written off often extremely young, extremely young, sometimes in primary school and what have you that they had been assigned the label that they were difficult, troublesome had behavioural issues, what have you and that, you know, they somehow either got themselves through the school system or often didn't, but where they came out was a feeling like, you know, I'm failure I'm rubbish at learning, I'm never going to be able to achieve anything.

And they had internalised that, because it's something that they have been told, either explicitly, or they've been told it through a series of actions, which, you know, gave them the message that somehow, they were not good enough. And yeah, what was always fascinating to me is that scratch beneath the surface, like, of course, that is not the story of who those young people were. They were often the most creative, resourceful, innovative, kind, generous, talented people that I had ever met. And I'm like, how do these two stories marry together? Because it's so damaging. It is, I cannot say how damaging it is to believe that about yourself, because it has a cascade effect about what it is that will happen for you for the rest of your life. Unless you can find a way of hearing different messages and believing different messages and actually changing something about what how you see yourself.

Marina Robb: Yeah. So I'm wondering, what a rewild did adult would be more able to do respond to a young person who was being really annoying, and irritating, you know? Which happens, doesn't it? Of course, we feel it. Yeah. Is there something about having done that internal work that reflection and and let's add in that reward self-rewilding? Yeah. What would you how would that look perhaps? I mean, I know there's so much you could say, but just give us a little glimpse of, of how it might look differently.

Max Hope: Yeah, I think that what I want to do with my hands, and of course, nobody can say this. But what I want to do with my hands is, is to show that there is a much broader lens. So how young people might often be viewed as through an extremely narrow lens of what is the expectation of what they should be like how they should behave, etc. And that lens is created at school, but it is not just school, I don't want to just demonise school, this is also about families, societies, more generally, it's about the mental health system.

It's about media, TV, all sorts of things, you know, but there is this narrow lens, which says, this young person is doing really well and is thriving, and aren't they great? And this young person is, you know, what a shame because they really messing everything up with X, Y, and Zed. And I think if, if adults were in themselves, more grounded, more connected to their own core, more authentic than they themselves will be able to broaden the lens, because they would recognise that there are other ways of seeing the world. And, you know, like, just a small example will be okay, so this, this kid who can't seem to sit still on their chair, instead of thinking.

Well, what is wrong with them, they can't sit still on their chair, you know, we need to do something about that. Let's keep sending them out every time they swing on their chair, you know, like, instead of looking through such a narrow lens, we think, wow, that kid's got energy. Well, what a gift. Imagine what imagine what they could do if that was channelled wealth, or if they could be helped to recognise that that amount of energy is unusual, and could bring them to all sorts of places that other people can't go. Wow, how could we really support that young person? Do you see what I mean? It's but it's, it's just a different lens. And if we of course then look at the system as a whole we would also be asking why are they expect you to sit on a chair in the first place? Why are there so many kids in this room? Why is there only one adult and there's 30 kids? Why are they only here for 50 minutes doing this subject that lots of them don't want to do anyway then we have to question everything

Marina Robb: Of course. Which..

Max Hope: Yeah, yeah. Which is, you know, really trying to get to the root of the problem because the root of the problem I tell you this we're in this to do to the problem is not with that child.

Marina Robb: No, it is not I want to, like, I don't want to just really just sit with that. No, it is not. And I'm, I know that you're passionate about changing the education system. And but before we do that, I just want to just talk for a moment about what it is to be, well, what it is to be whole. And I'm really, really, really, really struck by this, this not struck by just one want to name that to be well, we, there's a personal thing like yeah, self-reflection, what can we do, but there's an absolute structural thing going on as well. Like, if we don't have enough food, or we're really anxious about our dad losing his job, or, or, or we've been broken in however, many of the millions of ways that we can be broken, that could just be, you know, your mom not being to give you a hug when you really needed it, whatever, it is a small breakings right, but you know, yeah, I just so there's a where there's a structural wellness, and then there's a personal wellness, and we can't be responsible for the structure, you know, alone, no way.

And I often think that children and people are demonised or or it's not understood that it isn't a personal thing. It's a structural issue. So with that in mind, I'd love you to tell me a bit about what is your What are you doing? I mean, you know, I know that you're involved in rewilding education, and you feel extremely passionate about that. So give us a sense of what are some key problems with the system. And then I'd love to just hear some other ways that you could imagine it working, you know, as well, some shifts that could happen, you know,

Max Hope: My thing is, is education for many different reasons, just so happens that that is the place that I've ended up putting most of my energy. But I see parallels with what's happening in education, with what's happening with health, criminal justice, etc, etc, these things are not different. And they're all part of a familiar systemic problem that we have around how we have constructed society in a way that is trying to dominate and control and it's trying to produce particular types of outcomes.

So we want people would do and it's about coming back to the horses, we're trying to break people, we are deliberately trying to break people, we are trying to get them to fit into a particular box. And if they don't fit into that box, that is a problem. And we need to find a way to control that, you know, in its essence, that is what all of those systems are trying to do. Now, I don't want to just do away with all systems, this just live somewhere with no systems, that doesn't work either.

Like, I quite like a system arena, I'll tell you the truth. I'd like some more quiet light, some control quite light, some sense of, you know, there being a purpose to things. So, I don't have a problem with the fact that we try to organise. But what I have a problem with is that what that does, is the unequal power distribution, whereby all of those systems are set up to try to control others. And that, for me, is the is the fundamental problem. And for me, like my work around education, I've been seeking from longtime to try to find alternatives to the way that we do mainstream education. You know, is that around democratic education? Is it about freedom-based education? Is it around making things much smaller? So they can be much more relationship based, much more community based? Is it about, you know, using different types of, you know, pedagogy or curriculum, like, how can we make education better, and that's, that has been my passion for a long time.

But what I recognise and all of those things is a way to they're trying to change a power dynamic, the trying to is all about trying to find a way to get these, the education system to work well for young people. And for me, the only way to get it to work well is to get young people in the middle of it like so this is not a system that does to them, but it's a system that is for them and with them that they're involved in CO creating and designing, but they can really be self-wielding. And then, you know, over the last few years what I've turned my More to the natural world, the wild world that's given me such a massive transformation in my own life to be able to really engage as part of that bigger ecosystem, that I also have wanted to kind of bring that to education as a whole. And also to use some of those metaphors. What does it mean to reward education? What would it mean, if everything worked as in an ecosystemic? Way? What would it mean, if things were able to kind of be self-willed and grow freely like you can in a rewarded piece of land? Like I find them very, very interesting, useful analogies to use?

Marina Robb: Where do we go from here? I mean, here we have a system. For me, there's, you know, the main centrist system, which the majority of people are involved in, you know, one way or another, whether that's early is primary, secondary, not even going with health systems and Economics and Political systems. But how, what if I, if I gave you the bit of a bit of all power, or you were able to change something, one or two things Max, in the next year, even though it may take a few years to embed? What would you what would you be doing? Because I guess I, I always have a question. I know people that go through alternative routes, like don't go into mainstream school, but it does often feel very exclusive. You know, it's only available to certain individuals. And I really, and I know, you will think access is so important that that all children get this. So what were some of the immediate things, maybe a couple of things now. And then, yeah, if you could 10 years down the line, or whatever, how do we change things? Because we can talk, but we are people that want action to you know, and I and it could be coming from the teacher’s place, not just the tool, you know, what? Give me some examples of now and then 10 years, if you could change things, which I know you're doing anyway. But, you know, for our listeners?

Max Hope: You know, I feel like the question is sort of in a tantalising way trying to move me into a trap, right? Yeah, the reason I think that is because what you're saying is, if you have the power Max, how would you change the system as a whole. And that is an extremely tempting thing to want. Like, if I had the power to change the system as a whole, this is what I would do. But of course, what I believe is that we have to change the system from the inside. And that means we have to start with the people who are in the system working in the system. And for me, where I've chosen to put my energy right now is, instead of trying to change the system as a whole, is I really want to work with the people, the educators, the teachers, who kind of get some of this stuff, they understand that there is a problem. They don't necessarily know what to do about it, but they understand there's a problem. So I would say give me those people. Let me take them out into the wild with you Marina, or let's get them on a camp or let's get them on some zoom calls. Or let's get them visiting places like the cabin or the lodge where I work, which is self-directed consent by settings, to see how some of those practices can actually be used in mainstream because I believe that they can. But we have to start with those people who get that there's a problem. They are the people who are able to make changes in a classroom-by-classroom basis, one teacher at a time, one educator at a time, because I'm actually beyond the point of thinking that changing the system as a whole is the way to go. I think that's where this problem started, actually. And, and I think we need to turn it on its head and start smaller, which is start with the people.

Marina Robb: I've got tingles, which is always a good thing. And I went on your website, which is www.rewildingeducation.org and there was on point five, five core values about hedging how education should be run. It said, teaching has been devalued, and mistrusted. And teachers are unable to make decisions about how and what to teach. Students need to have power to make their own decisions. But teachers need freedom to

Max Hope: I'm actually not sure if that's on the Rewilding Education website or on my own website. It can be on either. Maxhope.co.uk

Marina Robb: So sorry if I got that wrong, but it makes me think that if you're gonna go one by one, with teachers, absolutely, yes. Let them come and have a space to really explore this and to learn different ways and to listen to each other and to work together. 100%. And there's something about this rewilding isn't there, like rewilding themselves and valuing themselves and being trusted, and trusting themselves? That seems really, really important here.

Max Hope: Yeah. And you know, the reason that I say that on the website is because one thing that I'm very cautious about is, is when I am critical of the mainstream education system, which is fairly frequent, is that teachers as individuals feel attacked, that is, that is a problem for me, because I know that there are so many fantastic, committed, talented teachers who have chosen to work in the system, because that's where they think they can do some good, and they can make the greatest impact, and I have so much respect for those people. So for me, in sort of criticising the system, I don't want it to be that I think all teachers are rubbish, because I do not. I also recognise that teachers are really constrained.

You know, like, I've talked about how, you know, like, the wild horses how, why as children we are broken, or our human spirit is broken, when we submit to the will of another teachers are under the cosh, you know, they have so little influence and control over what it is that they're expected to do. I mean, you know, this marina, we've got, you know, Ofsted, we've got very standard curriculum, we've got not just that they have to teach certain things, they have to teach them in particular ways. You know, like, it's getting worse and worse and worse and worse and harder and harder for teachers. And I really see that. And there's still some of them managing to do fantastic things, they find a tiny little bit of leeway in their classroom where they do manage to be really empathic and supportive and generous and really fun, not just brilliant with their particular students. But yeah, I want to recognise that, that that they're under the cosh which is why they need freedom to they need to be trusted to and in recent years, in recent governments, you know, like some of what the, you know, governments have said about teachers is so untrusting. You know, which is why we have, you know, departmental officials thinking that they should tell teachers what it is that they should do, because somehow they know better than teachers. I mean, it's so crazy mess.

Marina Robb: It's a crazy mess. And yet, I I have hope. Do you think it's crazy to have hope, Max hope?

Max Hope: You know, Marina, I don't know what else we've got. Like, I am genuinely, extremely optimistic. And it's not because I can't see the problems. But it's because I, I can see that we are not far away from being able to make some quite radical transformation, I can see that change is coming. It's increasingly feels like pushing out an open door. Because in listening to this podcast, there will be some people listening who were shouting, like, Well, yeah, whatever, you totally crazy. You don't even know what it's like you don't even work in a school. What are you talking about? There are some people who are entrenched and so be it. But there will also be people listening who go, Hmm, there's a point there, you've got a point, we do have a problem. I wonder, what could the solution be? I'm up for exploring. I'm up for finding out and there are more and more people like that. And for that reason, yes, we've got to have hope. We have to have hope. We have to be able to believe that things can be different and that things in small ways are already changing. And from those small things, big changes can come.

Marina Robb: Ah, there's nothing more to say at this point. I just want to thank you so much for your time. I know if people want to find out more, they can go to the website and look you up I know you want to have conversations and actually let's do this together. I just don't think any more this that we need to be honest. I'm doing it, I think there is a wave, I feel it. You know, from the years and years and years of being in this field. There's a willingness to change. There's a, there's a hope for change. And I think there's like, I love what you said about why I didn't love what you said. But the generations that we've, we've inherited so much. And so there's a sense of being kind with ourselves around that, but but at the same time, it's time, isn't it, Max,

Max Hope: it's time. It's time. And if I can just finish on one thing which says that what I have the deepest confidence and faith in it is the natural world. Like, if we can immerse ourselves out there, if we can be out there more. Understanding more, being in relationship with the natural world. The solace that that might bring to an individual is immeasurable, but also what we can learn about our own human systems and structures and ways of organising, if we look through the lens of how things are organised out there, I really think that this has such a lot of value for us. And so that is where from now, on put my faith.

Marina Robb: Thanks again for speaking to me, Max. Join me next week for episode 12 When I look into some key areas of rewilding education, and wild pedagogy.

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 outdoor teacher.com will 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