Teachers as action researchers, re-imagining (higher) education

With this article I invite you to a process of teaching & learning by planting a seed and then letting go( any expectations or projecting), allowing seeds to grow, some very soon, some later, they all need the right time and place.

Teacher as a gardener practice for the 21st-century education, or teacher as action researcher: 

  1. Creating the right environment : trust, mutual respect, safety for the learning to be possible and for each one to feel he/she is able to be successful. 
  2. Watering the plants & not the weeds: positive culture for learning & presencing, you might choose to look for what works, for the strengths instead of what is not working & weak points ( this would be watering the weeds). Dr.Lotta Uusitalo-Malmivaara says “ catch them being good”. 
  3. Allow yourself to be surprised: as a gardener, you are not always receiving what you expect, allow the process to grow, there is no control for the results you must achieve, and you do that by continuously unlearning. As a teacher, as you practice the unlearning constantly and open yourself to design based thinking and the lifelong learning (in the end) students will do the same, as they learn by mimicry. 
  4. Be mindful of the process: gardening is not about how much crops you get out of your work, but about the joy & wellbeing the action brings. Also, you always adjust yourself to the nature around you, sometimes it takes longer than expected for plants to produce and sometimes much faster than expected. 

When saying teachers as action researchers, we traditionally move between 4 stages of thinking, planning, doing, and reviewing ( see more on this in the references), with Carol Williams and the Re-imagining education, I propose to see not the 4 elements as individual phases & bubbles but to actually reflect from the inner condition, who am I and with what intention am I reflecting. And the second level is the whole environment within which we create these actions is not under our control, the action researcher does not need nor puts effort into controlling the environment.

In post-humanistic theory and model, this would be explained: 1. dwelling with; 2. enchantment; 3.caring ( you can see references for example).

Carol Williams, my guest with this article & interview, is a natural resources researcher, former University staff, with postdoc in sustainable agriculture. We follow this journey with the intention of re-imagining (higher) education and research.

“Re-imagining education is the journey of the self… to be an educator, means to fully engage with life”

Carol williams

I invite you to follow this interview with a pen & paper and willingness to allow 15 min for your personal journey deep within the values of who you are and what are your basic values on which re-imagining and sustainable education rest.

 As you hear in the interview, fear is a perfectly legitimate emotion, and the courageous act of teacher & educator is to continue the process in the presence of fear. We have had for a long time education being connected with fear, and re-imagining education involves healing the collective trauma around that. Carol Williams and guests from Re-imagining Education interviews with Ecoversities talk about connecting and learning with nature as a way to integrate and move towards the present and future needs of learners.

About Carol Williams: Previously an academic research scientist, I’m now following my calling to facilitate the emergence of regenerative potential in trauma-informed caregiving, and the transformation of organizations into sources of trust, well-being, and resilience for individuals and society more & further contact with Carol https://newrhinelandllc.com/ 


  1. more in Carol Williams & further contact 
  2. Kolb , 1984 & Hawkins & Smith 2013a:153 on Action Learning
  3. Integrative Psychotherapy in theory and practice, Hawkins, Ryde 20219 on Action Learning
  4. Enchantment as fundamental encounter: wonder and the radical reordering of subject/world, Noora Pyyry, Raine Aiava 2020, https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1474474020909481
  5. Catch them being good https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wyqQ_-28scA 

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