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  • Writer's pictureNeža Krek

TRANSCRIPTION: HOW TO LEARN FOR CHANGE WITH MARILYN MEHLMANN

guest: Marilyn Mehlmann


Neža Krek 00:49

I'm really happy our today's guests agreed to talk to me. We spent two years together as partners in an educational project called “Building capacity for transformative learning”, where we coauthored together with the rest of the project partners, a compendium a book, a humongous beautiful book on how to bring transformative learning to adult education.

We also created a competencies framework for transformative learning facilitators and the program to put all of the findings of the two-year project into practice with 30 Plus educators from all over Europe.

Collaborating with her was an absolute pleasure. Her wisdom, clarity on what's essential and what not, not to mention her humour and relentless drive to move the world closer to achieving sustainable development goals were one of the biggest gifts of working on this project for me.

My guest today is Marilyn Mehlmann, a founder member of Legacy 17, an international non for profit cooperative of leading-edge consultants, practitioners and educators focused on supporting the realization of the UN's 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

She combines backgrounds in psychosynthesis, empowerment, and action research to co-create new methods and tools for community personal and professional development. For 27 years, Marilyn was general secretary and Head of Development at Global Action Plan International, a network of NGOs supporting the transition to more sustainable behaviour, and was awarded the Rachel Carson prize 2011 2012 for her long-term efforts to involve individuals, companies and NGOs in acting sustainably.

She's an entrepreneur, former management consultant and CO creator of methods and tools, including highly innovative learning for change methodology introduced in more than 40 countries. Marilyn is vice president of the Union of international association in Brussels, a member of several advisory boards and was previously involved with product development at IBM and with action research and the Swedish Center for Working life.

She's the author, editor and co-author of numerous publications. Now, I think you understand why I'm so excited to be talking to her. Marilyn, welcome to the show. It's awesome that you said yes. Thank you so much.


Neža Krek 03:02

I want to challenge you. In all the years you've been doing Sustainable Development Goal education.

Could you pinpoint three crossroads that you know were the crossroads that, if you had taken a different route, you would have been a different educator today?


Marilyn Mehlmann 03:22

One of them I guess, is when concerned with global action families I've worked with for so long, working with households, education for sustainable lifestyle. I knew the people who had started internationally in the US and in the Netherlands. And they kept me involved. And I knew the person who decided to start a Swedish branch. And I said, they asked me if I would support him. I said, yes, sure I support him. And then quite suddenly, his mother became seriously ill. And he just withdrew from everything to take care of her. And so this embryo organization was left hanging. And so I said, Oh, heck, I'll take it on as a project in my organization, and we'll see where it goes. And then Alexandra resigned from his work. He used to work for a big company, but didn't really. So suddenly, he came home and said, I've resigned. Oh, okay. And a few months later, he decided that what he wanted to do was to run this project for me.


Neža Krek 04:29

Have you worked before with your husband?


Marilyn Mehlmann 04:31

We had worked before a bit together, but not much. So this was in must have been in 1992 Perhaps, and we've been working together ever since.


Neža Krek 04:42

I was ten then.


Marilyn Mehlmann 04:48

At least you were around.


Neža Krek 04:49

I was already around, yeah. So why was that a crossroad? Why was taking over of that project a crossroad?


Marilyn Mehlmann 04:52

Because it led me into the whole area of empowerment for action, preparing people who were interested but didn't know how to do it, to ready themselves to take conscious action in the direction that they chose themselves. And in our case, the context was the sustainable lifestyle. What they actually did was up to them out of all the many things they could have done to become more sustainable. I have been doing some empowerment work earlier, with employees in companies. And this was applying it to a whole new area. And it made me step back, it made me think, it made me experiment and I started a program of action research that goes on to this day because I found it so fascinating,


Neža Krek 05:34

What was the fascination about with action research?


Marilyn Mehlmann 05:53

The fascination is that there's always something more to learn. For example, I'm just working on a manuscript at the moment for which the basis was a comment of someone, and I have some people commenting on it, as one sentence that has been in the original manuscript that I used as a basis for this new book has been there for nearly 20 years. And suddenly somebody's reviewing it, he says, well, actually items agree with this. First, I'm thinking what I'm thinking. That's interesting. I didn't think of that. Right. And so maybe I need to shift my perspective of it.


Neža Krek 06:39

Before we go to the second crossroad, I was always fascinated by your ability to keep an open mind. And this speaks to this anecdote you just told us. You know that, 20 years later, somebody disagrees with something you've written. And then you think to yourself: "Oh, okay, maybe I should think about it differently."

How do you cultivate this open-mindedness? Open heartedness? What is your secret, Marilyn?


Marilyn Mehlmann 07:11

Maybe it wouldn't be wrong to call it self-preservation. I honestly believe it's what keeps us alive. And if you've once come to that conclusion, or possibly insight, then it's very hard not to, you know. How dull the world would be the day you decided: "Right! I know everything."


Neža Krek 07:34

And yet, there are many people who live their lives like that.


Marilyn Mehlmann 07:36

And then you might really, really ask yourself the question: "Are they really living?" There is no way any person on this earth or even any group of people can know everything. It's not possible. It is simply not possible. Doesn't matter whether you're a school child or a professor or a building worker, whatever you are, there's no way you can know everything. So at some point, you have to say: "Well, there's still some things I could learn."


Neža Krek 08:05

And yet we have a saying that says curiosity killed the cat, right? For me, that's such a controversial proverb. No, Curiosity made the cat more resilient. The cat's life became more fun and maybe it gave it a bit of a more of scruffy fur, but still ...


Marilyn Mehlmann 08:25

Maybe it's what gave it nine lives?


Neža Krek 08:28

Oh, maybe that's it. Why do you think this proverb is attacking curiosity? Curiosity is awesome. It's the foundation of discovery, of playfulness, of progress in my opinion.


Marilyn Mehlmann 08:45

Well, I guess it's used in different ways. And some forms of curiosity are really just another word for sticking your nose in where you're not wanting to.


Neža Krek 08:53

That's a different one. I don't call that curiosity.


Marilyn Mehlmann 08:55

I know, but I think for most people, I can imagine, from some experience of working with children, including my own, at some point, you just want to say: "no more questions for the next 10 minutes, please."


Neža Krek 09:12

Yes, our twins just turned three years. And now we have two kids constantly on, asking about everything in their surroundings. We just introduced the concept of 'mama is on a break'.


Marilyn Mehlmann 09:29

Yes. Well, you can expect it for the next five years, between three and eight. They do nothing but ask questions.


Neža Krek 09:37

What was the second crossroad that you can tell us and why was that a crossroad to the educator that you are today?


Marilyn Mehlmann 09:44

I can think of it very, because it stuck in my mind. It must have been a crossroad of some kind. It wants to be in 96 or something like that. I was in Russia. And we were discussing the adaptation of a household sustainable lifestyle program to Russian. And my colleague there said to me that we need to have a cultural adaptation program, a training program ready that you can put people through and this resulted in another model adapted for their culture. And I've never thought in those terms before. So that was the beginning of another long action research journey where the main question was: "How do you educate people to take what you've done and repurpose it for their own environment?" And I think we were the first ever international NGO that had a cultural adaptation program that we offered our new members, and it's quite possibly still the only one.


Neža Krek 10:49

And how do you do that?

How do you make that link to the adaptation?


Marilyn Mehlmann 10:57

Yeah, well, we developed a whole process called the carousel. Generally speaking, we gathered a group of about 20 people. And we went through the whole program with them, explaining the pedagogy of it, how we designed it in order to help people to reach action. And then they split up and took different chapters in groups of three. And they work through it using the same principles that we had just taught them, but applying it to their own. And then they pass that on to the next trio. So it went around the carousel so that it got tested by groups of people on its way until they said: "Yes, this works in our environment." And that little carousel concept turned out to be very, very powerful.


Neža Krek 11:52

And what I'm hearing is testing, right? Whenever I'm teaching a facilitation, I always ask my participants not to copy. I encourage them to make it their own. I insist: "How can you make it your own? How can you infuse yourself? How can you connect it to your own reality? Because you know the students, you know your own context."

And that connection is sometimes really tricky to make for many people. Why do you think that is?


Marilyn Mehlmann 12:16

I think most of us are looking for a role model when we're venturing into a new area. I just, I'm just writing a book for facilitators. And one of the things I've written in it is, "You don't become a good facilitator by trying to become somebody else." But it's tempting to think, oh, you know, she's really good at it. Oh, Neža, she's fantastic at this, all I need to do is to do like her, and I'll be just as good as her or nearly as good. I think it's very tempting. And I think a lot of our educational system is designed to encourage us in that kind of false thinking that by emulating the teacher or somebody else, we will somehow become that person rather than becoming who we are in our own context. I think there's a lot of it in the education system, actually.


Neža Krek 13:18

That's why I'm always challenging the participants of my programs. We go first to the basics: "Why are you the educator that you are? Why did you start this?" And many of them realize: "Oh, I actually just fell into it." And I probe a bit deeper: "Okay, now now, why are you then still there?" Because if you, just fell into being an educator, why are you still there? And many of them are surprised: "Oh, wow, I have a purpose. Oh, I can actually bring that purpose out to the surface!" And for many, it is permission to put their personality in their teaching. "I'm allowed to be who I really am also, as a facilitator?" and I answer: Yes, please, because that's the gem that you're bringing in. Right?


Neža Krek 14:01

And the third crossroad, what was it?


Marilyn Mehlmann 14:02

It was in Brussels. I was staying with a friend and a colleague and we were thinking about going out for dinner. We were enjoying a glass of wine and chatting. I casually said, "How is it that in sustainable development, there is no general practitioner." It's as if I were ill physically and to get a diagnosis I would need to go to a whole range of different places. And then I'd have to start researching what the treatments might be. After I'd need to go everywhere to try them out, to interview people. And then finally, if I hadn't died in the meantime ... I might get an answer.


Marilyn Mehlmann 14:30

So: why don't we have general practitioners of sustainable development? It turned out to be such an interesting conversation that we never went out to dinner, we broke up on some packs of peanuts and raisins, and a bottle of red wine.


Marilyn Mehlmann 15:53

This was in 2003. And in 2009, we launched a possible answer to that problem: a workshop. With our colleagues we developed a workshop, model, plan and idea, we tested it on one of our members where all of the project team was sitting around, looking at this one person who had a case study for us. So we tested all our ideas on her. And then we said, Okay, let's go for it. Let's run a pilot course. So we ran a pilot course, with 60 participants from every continent, 10 facilitators, all in the same room for three days. And we came out the other end with a concept, which we're still using.


Neža Krek 17:00

I what I'm hearing, is that you've been testing. You didn't have the audacity to say that you were going to come up with something perfect. But it was tested, it was tried out. And then after a process, something that still stands the test of time came out. And I'm so happy that you're saying that because that's something that I'm encountering often when I'm teaching facilitation. Especially in higher education settings, there's a belief that it needs to be perfect. Or that they as educators need to develop something.


Neža Krek 17:33

When I ask the educators if they have asked students what they want to do, I get puzzled answers that they sent out a survey. However, the idea of involving the students in the design is still very foreign. So I'm very happy that you're bringing this testing, developing together, and co-creating. Granted, co-creating is a hell of a lot of more work. I mean, you and I we were part of a co-creating, co-writing book right with 50 authors in real-time. That was a gigantic project, but it can be done and it's very enriching.


Marilyn Mehlmann 18:14

That actually resulted in a book which is still being used. That's the "Learning for change" program.


Neža Krek 18:19

Tell us why was "Learning for change" so impactful?


Marilyn Mehlmann 18:26

Well, you know, in the 70s, or thereabouts, you wouldn't remember this ...


Neža Krek 18:34

No, my parents were flirting back then.


Marilyn Mehlmann 18:37

There was this expression going around: the learning organization. And every company was talking about it in their internal training programs, everything was about the learning organization. And I thought this was very interesting. I was a management consultant. I interviewed a lot of people, theorists, professors, and others who are working with organizational development. And I finally decided, that there is no such thing as a learning organization. It's a shame. It's ridiculous. People learn, organizations don't. if you're really lucky, they stay with you. And then you've got that knowledge within the organization, but the organization itself doesn't. That was my conclusion.


Marilyn Mehlmann 19:21

After we had held this practice workshop in 2009, probably by around 2012 I sat back and looked at what was happening with the people that were using this method on a regular basis. And I said, "I'm going to have to eat my hat." They are actually developing learning organizations. I was wrong. It's because it's focused on learning from experience, both individual and collective experience. That's what it's about. How can we become much more effective at learning individually and collectively from our experience? That's where the question about sustainable development brought us to. We keep making the same mistakes over and over again: "Why don't we learn from the experience?"


Neža Krek 20:33

Did you get an answer for that?

Why don't we learn from our experience?


Marilyn Mehlmann 20:37

Well, we went further which is: "How can we learn from our mistakes as a collective?" Well, this is the "Learning for change" program. The difference is really subtle if you describe it, but the impact is absolutely huge.


Marilyn Mehlmann 20:54

For example, a lot of the organizations we worked with used SWOT analysis. We used something called appreciative dialogue, which didn't have a name at the time. So we asked people to start by describing what they're most proud of about their work or project. We didn't ask them to describe their strengths, because that immediately implies there are weaknesses. And as soon as you imply weaknesses or threats, people get scared. And when they are scared, they close up. So we said:


Marilyn Mehlmann 21:21

"Okay, imagine you're telling your grandmother about your projects, and your boasting. You were to tell how brilliant it is."

And they would immediately start saying: “Yes, but…”

Forget that, you're gonna have plenty of time to get to all these 'Yes, buts!' Just go for what you want to boast to your grandmother about.


Marilyn Mehlmann 21:36

And then they do that in groups and support each other to bring out the boasting and document it. And then we invite them to consider whatever would they have preferred to be different. So often, what is easiest to improve is what is already good. Therefore, many times what came up in the second round of the program was actually stuff they'd already boasted about.


Marilyn Mehlmann 21:37

However at that moment, after the boasting, looking for what could be improved was completely non-threatening. I think that's a detail of the learning for change process. But I think it's so significant of the whole thing that it is focused on what is and what could be only to the extent that it's something you define as desirable.


Neža Krek 22:52

And what I hear is motivation, I hear that your participants in this process, were motivated to go further in their discovery.


Marilyn Mehlmann 23:01

They are. And what's interesting is that all of these methods in Learning for change there's almost nothing new about. Just tweaks here and there. But we use devil's advocate. I'm sure you've used that. Later on, people get really into the swing of coming up with terrible risks for the project when you tell them they get brownie points or come up with something really horrendous. And that competing with each other to come up with something really, really terrible. Why is this project going to fail? Thinking about the risk scenarios get's people really energized. And then we use a very simple but very powerful method for prioritizing and risk assessment. We ask them to put a number on each of the prioritized risks that they've identified. So the whole process is one of joyful exploration.


Neža Krek 24:07

If I look into your website, you say that you begin to believe that there are just three dimensions that will determine how thrivable our futures will be. And then you define these three dimensions. One is the cross-cutting topic of food, the cross-cutting process of education, and the overarching stumbling block of the global economic system. So these are the three, you know three main dimensions that you mentioned. The way I understand you and your work in your essence is that you are an educator by everything that you do. That's how you approach bringing change to this world, right. And there's a beautiful, beautiful quote underneath that says, "You never change things by fighting against the existing reality. To change something build a new model that makes the old model obsolete." By Buchminster Fuller. Can you tell a bit about why education?

Why are you an educator? Why did you become one? And why are you still one?


Marilyn Mehlmann 25:08

I never saw myself as a teacher. That seems important to say. So you've probably seen this model that says, How do we learn? So we retain maybe 5% of what we read in books. We retain more if we're to lecture and we hear it, we retain even more if we get to experiment. And right at the top of the pyramid, where do we learn the most? It is if we teach. So if you're passionate about learning, you're going to end up being an educator. I don't see how you can do anything else.


Neža Krek 25:53

I signing that one because it's the same as me. I'm a sucker for growth, for learning. That's why I'm a teacher. Do you know why? Because I wanted to prove that learning can be fun. That was my drive when I was 12. I announced to my mom: "I'm good to be a teacher because everybody's bored and yet I love learning. And I don't understand why I love learning and my peers they're bored. I don't get it.


Marilyn Mehlmann 26:13

Right. Yeah, no, I wasn't just clear about that. At the time, it's only become clear to me much later. Because for most of my working life, I haven't been an educator in any obvious sense of the word.


Marilyn Mehlmann 27:47

But throughout my career, there has been this educational element to it, either in writing or face to face, which I've always appreciated. Because that's where the rubber hits the road. That's when you find out whether you've actually got anything worth conveying. So that's where the learning is. We're back to that again.


Neža Krek 28:11

Is there another layer that you can dig deeper into? Why education and why not, let's say, food or global economic systems?


Marilyn Mehlmann 28:20

No, no, education is the process. But the content is something else. Okay, I can educate about education, but I can educate about food. And I do I've written several books, and developed courses, and an app and all kinds of stuff. So I do work a lot with food, just not at the moment. But I mean, for the last more than 10 years, I've worked in working with food. And economic systems are a bit tougher to get come to grips with I've worked a lot with them. I wrote an article about the current economic situation in 1997. That was published quite widely at the time. And it's difficult to find the way in as Bucky Fuller said, Buckminster Fuller said, the way is in is not through fighting. And I've been watching and sometimes supporting the alternative systems as they've developed in economics, but now I'm right now, right this moment, I'm interested in another aspect of economics, which is how do we train our future economists. And why? For what? What society are we training them for? And I had a little workshop on that last December online, and I'm giving a workshop on it at the Higher Education Summit in September. So I currently have a PhD student who's researching what mould braking courses are being taught already by different universities in different places around the world.


Marilyn Mehlmann 30:09

I think what we teach our economist is quite important. We, the general public, believe so many incredibly improbable myths about money. I mean, was it Alice in Wonderland, who said she could, she could believe, five impossible things before breakfast? Well, when it comes to economics, we do that. I mean, the whole structure of economics, as represented in our minds, is so impossible. It just doesn't hang together. And yet those myths are very seldom challenged. And I think we need to challenge them already in university, we need to make sure that the young economists who are coming out into working life, at least know that they or miss,


Neža Krek 30:56

What else do we need to challenge? I think that's a very important conversation I would like to have. If I asked you differently, what are the moulds that we need to break according to you, in our current education systems?


Marilyn Mehlmann 31:08

I think one of them, which is very apparent in higher education, but it comes out elsewhere as well, is the idea that the role of the teacher is to convey knowledge. This has been brought to a head for me fairly recently, by the situation in Ukraine, the current war being waged by Russia in Ukraine.


Marilyn Mehlmann 31:34

Since I've worked a lot in Ukraine, and have very many friends that have many, many of whom are teachers. I have been in touch with them from day one of the invasion. And they are going through the most incredible amounts of trauma, obviously, and their pupils too. So just to take one example, I have one old friend who's a teacher in Kharkiv in the east of Ukraine. And in her school, there are 500, pupils enrolled. 41 of those 500 are still in Ukraine. The teachers are still conducting lessons with them using smartphones because they don't even have access to computers anymore because the Russian army has bombed the schools and the computers. So they're using their smartphones and they are holding their classes together until such time as the pupils get integrated into wherever they are somewhere else. But they're also doing other stuff with them, which we are supporting them to do.


Marilyn Mehlmann 31:51

So what has come up for me, it's really brought to a head this question of trauma. Or the whole question of how we deal with emotions in the educational system.


Marilyn Mehlmann 32:37

It functions pretty well at the kindergarten level. I think kindergarten teachers should be paid more than university lecturers, by the way, but that's my opinion. But the older the children are, the less likely the teachers are to be able to handle even their own emotions, let alone those of their pupils.


Marilyn Mehlmann 33:00

The projects I've worked with have trained more than 5000 teachers in Ukraine to work with education for sustainable development. And that includes a healthy dose of dealing with feelings and social sustainability. And so they are all primed. And they've stepped into this bridge in the most amazing way.


Marilyn Mehlmann 33:23

We're talking about a situation where basically the whole nation is traumatized. And where the teachers need help to cope with their own trauma, and to enable them to support pupils through that trauma. So what we've done is actually to provide them with access to a trauma therapist, and we're still doing that on an ongoing basis.


Marilyn Mehlmann 33:47

I think we're going to find that our ability to cope with strong emotions in the educational system, is going to be a determinant of how civilized our next civilization will be.


Marilyn Mehlmann 34:02

I want to go back to your statement about kindergarten teachers, when compared to, you know, teachers later on, what are they doing well, that the teachers, later on, could carry on and infuse in the later stages of education, according to you?


Marilyn Mehlmann 34:19

I think it comes down to, very simply, feeling competent, and authorized to take emotions seriously.


Neža Krek 34:34

Why do you think that just disappears in later stages of education?


Marilyn Mehlmann 34:38

Oh, my goodness, there are so many ways to count I mean, you know, with two three-year-olds, that you're not going to get very far with that age group if you don't work with their emotions.


Marilyn Mehlmann 34:50

Nope. I have one that is prone to tantrums.


Marilyn Mehlmann 34:53

Yes. So it's kind of force majeure for the kindergarten teachers.


Neža Krek 35:00

And then you learn how to behave and fit in a box, right?


Marilyn Mehlmann 35:03

Yes, the teachers learn how to discipline. I've been in classrooms in Africa or other places, with 40, pupils in one room and one teacher, and if you don't learn some kind of discipline, you might as well give up, give up and go home.


Marilyn Mehlmann 35:22

So it's not what it's about. But I think, especially when you get into higher education ... I found teachers in higher education, who have felt as though they didn't have any mandate, even to deal with emotions. It was kind of overstepping the bounds of what they were allowed to do to ask somebody how they were feeling. And in a sense, this is an outcome of our current view of science, which is almost as unsustainable as our current view of economics.


Marilyn Mehlmann 35:57

Well, the way the scientific community is set up today, you are expected to produce results of a certain kind within a certain time.


Neža Krek 35:57

How so?


Marilyn Mehlmann 36:10

You know, we often complain about funders like the EU. An example: We apply for funding. And we want to explore something, to do something innovative, and they say: "Yes, we want innovation! And then they add: “Oh, by the way, you need to tell us three years in advance exactly what the outcome is going to be." So that the whole scientific paradigm in itself, there's nothing wrong with but ... Well, as somebody once said, an expert is somebody who knows more and more about less and less until finally, he knows almost everything about practically nothing.


Marilyn Mehlmann 36:46

This automatically excludes emotions. Feelings don't have any part to play in that. Although there is adequate, more than adequate research to show that actually, even the most scientific of scientific experiments are actually influenced by the feelings of the experimenters. And that's an interesting one. Let's forget about that.


Marilyn Mehlmann 37:12

Another thing is the whole so-called peer review system, which is not really peer review, which is, in principle, brilliant. I mean, I love the whole idea because of getting people to review each other's stuff and to talk to each other about it.


Marilyn Mehlmann 37:31

But the way it's set up at the moment, you can't really get published unless you are saying something that somebody else has already said.


Marilyn Mehlmann 37:39

And in order to produce that kind of scientific circle of context, many higher education establishments bend over backwards to eliminate emotions. I used to be a guest lecturer at a university, psychology. And I had students who were going through a five-year program. And they were in the second to last year, and they had never experienced emotion in the classroom. At least not one that was acknowledged, and certainly not one that was provoked by the teacher. So there is another conundrum that I'm playing with at the moment. So maybe I can throw it at you and we can play.


Marilyn Mehlmann 39:05

I was talking about trauma in connection with Ukraine, and I really think if we could develop a new kind of education, which is about dealing with trauma, not as a trauma therapist, but as a paramedic, if you like the mental equivalent of the ambulance staff or somebody who's done a first aid class, why shouldn't we all get the first aid class in how to deal with trauma, how to help people deal with trauma, how to cope with it ourselves? I'm thinking we could prevent so much really serious damage further down the line. You have PTSD etc. If people were given just minimum support, like in an ambulance to stay alive.


Marilyn Mehlmann 39:05

Now, here's the conundrum, because at the same time, I think the traumas that we experience as we go through life are actually what makes us us. It is what makes us individuals. So I think it's going to be very important in this ongoing discussion, which I hope we're just starting here. Now. We're not talking about doing away with trauma, any more than we're talking about doing away with conflict, we're talking about handling it in the best possible way.


Neža Krek 40:27

In all of this story, where's transformative learning nested?


Marilyn Mehlmann 40:31

I think it has an interesting position. Empowerment, which has been a central concept in my action research for all of these years, can come in tiny, tiny steps, which don't appear to be transformative until much later. But it can also come as a bang, big accumulation.


Marilyn Mehlmann 41:07

Somehow, I think transformative learning can be either of those, but what we're talking about is creating in our educational work, no matter whether we're educating about feelings, or about food, or about economics - it doesn't matter.


Marilyn Mehlmann 41:23

It's about creating a space where those kinds of things can happen. And for some people, it needs to take place in these tiny steps, especially for people who have been for want of a better word really traumatized, who feel really limited by their circumstances, victims.


Marilyn Mehlmann 41:43

For them, it can be difficult to believe in any kind of change, at least any positive change. And so even the smallest or especially the smallest change, that they are part of bringing about can be enormously transformative. But not immediately. That it can be the first of a whole series of steps.


Marilyn Mehlmann 42:04

Whereas for other people, we might be able to create a platform where they can just step out there and say: "Yes, I see the world from a different place today."


Marilyn Mehlmann 42:15

So transformative learning is striving to enable people shift their perspective, either a little or a lot. And that's something that you can't easily go back from, you can't stop seeing something, once you've seen it. You can, but it takes a huge amount of suppression. But in general, what we're aiming for, is to create that space where people could say: "Oh, yeah, I could see it that way as well. Maybe that's another way of looking at it." Whether that's small or large. So transformative change is in a sense, change that you can't really back off from.


Neža Krek 43:03

I know that your and my goal is to shape an education that will help us shape a better future for this world, for the planet, and for everybody having a ride on this planet. So for that, let's conclude with I know that you are now very active in a project, supporting Ukrainian teachers. And is there anything you would like to invite our listeners to engage with? How can they get involved? And what would that contribution look like?


Marilyn Mehlmann 43:34

Well, the obvious first place to start, the project still needs money. And that's crowdfunding going on. And it will keep going on for a while, I think. So that's one thing because every little count. And we're, as of today, we're up to nearly 45% of our original goal. Plus, we have two promises outside of the crowdfunding donations. So we're almost there, actually, for the first, which already takes us up to the end of August. So we still need for the next few months, but we want to keep providing the support for the teachers and their pupils. So money, very much appreciated.


Marilyn Mehlmann 44:13

The other thing is, if you're in a country where there are refugee children, pupils from Ukraine, we're hoping if we can develop the project further, to be able to approach both refugee teachers and refugee pupils and support them with some kind of system for getting together so that they can support each other. And we're going to need people who are locals to help with that process to find the right way as the right people. But at the moment, we don't have that capacity. We need to get a bit further with our fundraising, but I think it's going to be very interesting.


Marilyn Mehlmann 44:51

The third thing is if you are a teacher, especially a great school because most of the ones we're working with our pre-University Is to mediate connections with teachers in the host country of the refugees. And we have that going in the UK where there is a website that is available to teachers for education for sustainable development, where they exchange materials, tips about teaching and stuff like that. They've set up a complete parallel site in Ukrainian. So the Ukrainian teachers can go there, they can exchange stuff, but they can also make contact with their UK counterparts. So that's a thing that will be further down the line. But it's if anybody has ideas right now we'd like these UK people to came up with this fantastic offer, and they just did it.


Neža Krek 45:40

Thank you so much, Marilyn for having this conversation.


Marilyn Mehlmann 45:43

Thank you for inviting me.


Marilyn Mehlmann 45:47

Thanks for listening. I hope you feel inspired to experiment and inject more of yourself into your classroom. One thing is certain you can do whatever you set your mind and heart to. I dearly believe that. if you look for more inspiration, and practical tips, sign up for the newsletter where I share exclusive content related to the podcast episodes. Jump to Neža krek.com/newsletter. And join a community of fun ambitious educators like yourself. Till the next episode. Have fun.


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