Greetings & Welcome to The Spirit of Education

The Spirit of Education is the working title of a book I’ve been writing slowly for a few years now. It’s a hard book to write on many levels. I’ve conceived it as a series of personal essays taking off from my lifelong experience with education, first as a student, then as a college professor and community workshop leader for many years. Over the course of my lifetime, there has been little change in the way education is imagined and delivered. But change is essential now.

If we are to survive and thrive in the 21st century, we must rapidly adapt our theories and praxis of education to the realities of the future that is hurtling towards us. We need to develop rapidly as a species, transforming our relationships with each other and with the Gaiasphere we call home.

The first step in the intentional transformation of physical reality is always a psychospiritual one. Every physical invention and innovation has started first as a lightbulb moment in someone’s mind.

Thus nothing is more important for young people now than learning to use their imaginations in productive, powerful, prosocial and ecologically vibrant ways.

Sadly, the vast majority of our educational institutions do nothing of the sort. Most schools still deliver education in accordance with the dominant Euro-American ideas of the 18th and 19th centuries: students are taught to follow instructions, memorize the bright ideas of others, be physically docile except on the playing fields, become a good industrious worker in an existing capitalist niche…all in service to the predatory, extractive, exploitative scientific domination of nature.

This mindset created the institutions and social structures that we take for granted today as inevitable, necessary as air or water.

Except that now, in the 21st century, we are rapidly being taught by Gaia herself that there are limits to the amount of abuse she will continue to absorb. Climate change, with its attendant floods, fires, droughts and storms, are one way that Gaia is setting about restoring equilibrium. Humans must adapt and transform our relationship to the planet, or face the collapse of the civilizations that our sciences and technologies have created.

Humans, the ultimate invasive species, have in a few short centuries disrupted the ecological balance that prevailed since the dinosaurs went down 65 million years ago. This time the asteroid is of our own making. We must now scramble to adapt to the situation we have created, and education has a critical role to play in the process of remaking ourselves anew for the unprecedented challenges of the years ahead.

The truth is that we don’t have time for slow incremental changes in how we understand our place in the ecological web of the planet. We need to rapidly transform our relationships with each other, with other life forms, with our planetary home, and with the larger cosmic dimensions of reality that I call psychospiritual, for lack of a better term.

This blog will serve as my sandbox, to explore “the spirit of education” from many perspectives, from pragmatic pedagogies to visionary theories. I am least interested in mainstream ideas of education, which are still too invested in maintaining the status quo. While you can expect to find yourself in some strange, edgy territory here, my intention is to think big and venture off the beaten track of possible solutions to our current dilemmas. My goal is to work with others to boldly imagine a way through the rapids of this intense period of human history, to the better future that is ours to co-create.

I welcome your comments and thoughts. We are truly all in this together.

—Jennifer Browdy, PhD

December, 2022

Find out more about me and my work on my website.

Subscribe to The Spirit of Education

Creating Pathways Towards a Thriving Future


Writing to right the world.