Gemma Burford is creating a global movement for education that can transform mental health
1

patron

$1
per month
Let's work together to help people 'Learn to Love Life'!

We know that, as it stands, 'Western' education isn't working for mental health.  Rates of depression, anxiety and stress are on the increase, and suicide is the third leading cause of death among teenagers worldwide. 

There's no shortage of research on what works.  But all too often, it hasn't been translated into system-level improvements in education... and nobody seems to be talking about the mental well-being of educators themselves. 

I've created Reconnecting Education as a movement to join the dots - to acknowledge that people thrive best when they're connected with their creativity, with their community, with their own emotions, and with nature. I've spent the past four years reflecting on academic research about well-being, as well as Indigenous knowledge and lived experience - and boiled it down to these four elements.  Each of these can provide a key to unlock the Deep Love at your core - that love that lights you up from the inside and brings you fully alive.

To make these elements actionable, I've created twelve specific Pledges - one per element, and one per month:

Reconnecting with Creativity (The Key of Purpose)
Invite Inspiration; Play with Arts; Push the Boundaries

Reconnecting with Community (The Key of Passionate Activism)
Learn to 'Listen to Learn'; Celebrate Diversity; Build Shared Visions

Reconnecting with Emotions (The Key of Power)
Allow your Feelings; Practice Deep Acceptance; Honor the Body

Reconnecting with Nature (The Key of Peace)

Find your Place; Balance Receiving and Giving; Learn from Nature



The vision of Reconnecting Education is to catalyze change in education from the inside out, by helping teachers to reconnect with creativity, community, emotions and nature, and move beyond 'surviving' to 'thriving'. 

It’s easy to get caught up in despair when politicians make policies that make things worse.  But we all have the power to create the changes we want.  It starts with a new vision for what `education’ can become, should become, and – thanks to everyone who’s reading this and decides to join our community of Patrons – WILL become.

It starts with you.  Our vision is to start changing the future of education, one educator at a time. We can help you learn to thrive by reconnecting with creativity, community, emotions and nature. We can help you overcome your sense of overwhelm, and fall in love with life again... and then inspire other people (your students, children, clients, or family and friends) to do the same.

Whether you're a teacher, a lecturer, a parent, a coach, a tutor, a mentor, a volunteer in a community organization, or just someone who wants to make a difference but hasn't figured out where to start... it starts when you join Reconnecting Education, with monthly contributions of $1 (around UK £0.82) to $20 (£16.40) for basic memberships, and sign the 12 Pledges.  At higher levels of membership ($50 or $100 per month), you'll have full access to our exclusive e-course 'Overcome Overwhelm and Learn to Love Life', with either a group or private video coaching call every month.

At the same time, we can work at the national and global level too, to raise awareness of the Four Elements of Learning to Love Life and encourage policy-makers to take them seriously.   We can connect up existing initiatives on mindfulness, mental health, nature-connection, art therapy, and non-violent communication - with the Four Elements model as the 'glue' that links them all together.

By contributing to this movement, you increase the number of people who are able to use their time, energy and skills to build this vision.  You help to cover website and graphic design costs, launch pilot projects in schools in the UK and Tanzania, publish books, and make a short film.  You fund social media training, travel expenses, and conference costs to get the project on to national and international stages.

Let’s spread the word.  Please share this Patreon page with everyone you know on social media.  Add a personal note, if possible, when you send it to people who are already working in education!

If you want to get more deeply involved, please tell me about your skills and passions, and how you’d like to use them in service of this vision.  When we work together, we can change the face of education even faster!

Make a note of today's date.  Go on, I dare you, write it in your journal.  Maybe you’ll look back in ten years’ time and say, “That was it.  That was the day it all started.”

Thank you so much!

Gemma

“Light my heart, reveal the best in me,
Light my path and show me the way:
This one step reclaims my destiny,
This one action changes my day…”

(From the song ‘Warrior Maiden’ by Gemma Burford, 2016)

ABOUT PATREON:

Please note that Patreon is a platform for recurring monthly donations, which is fantastic for me because it gives me a consistent level of income and helps to reduce anxieties about bills!  You can pledge at any level you feel comfortable with - and you're always free to cancel your pledge at any time, or reduce the amount, if your circumstances change.  

ABOUT ME:

Firstly, if you don't know who I am, congratulations on reading this far! 

My name is Gemma Burford and I'm a freelance consultant specializing in education for sustainability and well-being (a.k.a. Learning to Love Life).  I'm the founder of Reconnecting Education, and of Thought Leaders in Education for Sustainability.  I live in the New Forest, in the south of England, with my two daughters and a hamster. 

So how did I get here?

You may well ask!  It's been quite a journey - half-way around the world and back again. 

It all started in 1999, when I was still a Biochemistry student at Oxford University and a friend invited me to attend a cultural festival in Tanzania, East Africa. 

After the festival, I set out with a group of youth from the organizing committee to do some hiking in the foothills of Mount Meru.  On that trip, we realized we didn't want the dream to die because the festival was over!  We set up an arts organization called Aang Serian (`House of Peace' in the Maasai language) and started raising money for music projects.

Later that same year, I was offered an internship with the Global Initiative for Traditional Systems (GIFTS) of Health to organize a conference on medicinal plants and malaria - also in the north of Tanzania!  That was the start of a 10-year learning journey with GIFTS of Health and Aang Serian, which involved a wide variety of different projects - researching local herbal medicines, creating an intercultural education curriculum inspired by Indigenous leaders at the United Nations, working on an Indigenous youth media project and helping hip-hop artists to record anti-HIV songs, to name but a few.  

At 24, the summer before I was due to take up a British government scholarship to do a Masters degree in Environmental Anthropology, I was asked to stand in for the manager of a small scoping project (funded by the United Nations) on Maasai knowledge and conservation of medicinal plants.  I ended up marrying my research assistant, a Maasai warrior, and working with him to set up a cultural tourism company and build a secondary school in a remote village!  If you're in the UK, you might have seen our traditional Maasai wedding ceremony in the media. 

We were also funded by an international donor for a grassroots campaign against female genital mutilation and HIV/AIDS, which was very successful because of its creative approach - using traditional choirs to sensitize communities, and working with specific groups to talk about their reasons for practicing FGM and how they could achieve their goals without the cutting.

Six years later, the tour company collapsed during the global recession, and my marriage also fell apart.  I came back to England with my two daughters, and took up a new job as a Research Officer in Values and Sustainability at the University of Brighton (later Research Fellow).  We developed ways of giving people deeper insights into what matters most to them - what they find most valuable, meaningful, and worthwhile - and helping them to design and evaluate projects on the basis of those values. 

In November 2016, I left the University to start my own freelance consultancy, and immediately felt the urge to start writing a book.  Since then, my life has changed beyond all recognition, and in February 2017, Reconnecting Education was born!

After all my journeys - learning from some of the world's leading science lecturers at Oxford University, and from Maasai shamans living in mud huts in the East African savanna - I've finally found the vision that I've been searching for.  It's a lot bigger and scarier than I expected! I never imagined I'd find myself thinking about trying to change entire education systems - and, in the process, transforming people's well-being too.  But if you're going to have a dream, you might as well make it big...

So this goes out to all the other crazy dreamers out there.  Don't ask, "What if it doesn't work?".  Ask yourself, "What if it DOES work?"  What have you got to lose?  A dollar a month, or $3, or $5, or $10, or $20.  It's not as if I'm asking you for a million dollars.  (Although if you happen to have a million dollars lying around, or a thousand, or even a couple of hundred, and feel inspired to invest in this vision with a larger one-off or monthly donation, I'm not going to refuse...)

Let's take the first step right now,and begin...  

Back to the main Reconnecting Education website
Tiers
Contribute $1 per month
$1 or more per month 0 patrons
Thanks for being a part of our global movement!  You'll receive our patron-only news feed, and a copy of the 12 Pledges that you can print out and sign :)


Contribute $3 per month
$3 or more per month 1 patron
You'll receive the patrons-only news feed and the 12 Pledges, plus a full colour A4 poster of the Four Elements of Learning to Love Life.
Contribute $5 per month
$5 or more per month 0 patrons
You'll receive a full colour A4 poster and the Reconnecting Education 'Pledge Calendar', reminding you when it's time to start working on a new Pledge, as well as access to the Patron-only news feed.
Contribute $10 per month
$10 or more per month 0 patrons
You'll receive a new 'Learning to Love Life' activity booklet every month, with suggestions on how to put that month's Pledge into action in your own life... plus the A4 poster, Pledge Calendar, and Patron-only news feed.
Contribute $20 per month
$20 or more per month 0 patrons
You'll get a new Resource Pack each month, with suggestions for things you can do to put that month's Pledge into action in your school or organisation.  You can join our `20:20 Vision' private Facebook group and also receive all previous rewards.
Contribute $50 per month
$50 or more per month 0 patrons
We'll sign you up to our 'Overcome Overwhelm and Learn to Love Life' e-course, with a monthly group video call, and access to e-mail Q&A support, plus all previous rewards.
Contribute $100 per month
$100 or more per month 0 patrons
You'll be signed up to the e-course and a PRIVATE, one-to-one video call (45 minutes) every month, as well as priority Q&A support, your name and (optional) photo or and/logo on our website, and all previous rewards.
Goals
$1 of $3,500 per month
With all of you lovely Patrons covering my living costs and the project's running costs, including the website, graphic design, insurance, launch events and travel, I can afford to support two pilot projects in Tanzania - a lecturers' working group at a teacher training college near Kilimanjaro, and a nursery school using the Reconnecting model in a Maasai village near Monduli.  We have passionate advocates for the project helping us spread the word all over the UK, USA, Canada and Australia, and Reconnecting Circles established to bring together educators, life coaches and mental health professionals in ten towns in the south of England.
1 of 3
Let's work together to help people 'Learn to Love Life'!

We know that, as it stands, 'Western' education isn't working for mental health.  Rates of depression, anxiety and stress are on the increase, and suicide is the third leading cause of death among teenagers worldwide. 

There's no shortage of research on what works.  But all too often, it hasn't been translated into system-level improvements in education... and nobody seems to be talking about the mental well-being of educators themselves. 

I've created Reconnecting Education as a movement to join the dots - to acknowledge that people thrive best when they're connected with their creativity, with their community, with their own emotions, and with nature. I've spent the past four years reflecting on academic research about well-being, as well as Indigenous knowledge and lived experience - and boiled it down to these four elements.  Each of these can provide a key to unlock the Deep Love at your core - that love that lights you up from the inside and brings you fully alive.

To make these elements actionable, I've created twelve specific Pledges - one per element, and one per month:

Reconnecting with Creativity (The Key of Purpose)
Invite Inspiration; Play with Arts; Push the Boundaries

Reconnecting with Community (The Key of Passionate Activism)
Learn to 'Listen to Learn'; Celebrate Diversity; Build Shared Visions

Reconnecting with Emotions (The Key of Power)
Allow your Feelings; Practice Deep Acceptance; Honor the Body

Reconnecting with Nature (The Key of Peace)

Find your Place; Balance Receiving and Giving; Learn from Nature



The vision of Reconnecting Education is to catalyze change in education from the inside out, by helping teachers to reconnect with creativity, community, emotions and nature, and move beyond 'surviving' to 'thriving'. 

It’s easy to get caught up in despair when politicians make policies that make things worse.  But we all have the power to create the changes we want.  It starts with a new vision for what `education’ can become, should become, and – thanks to everyone who’s reading this and decides to join our community of Patrons – WILL become.

It starts with you.  Our vision is to start changing the future of education, one educator at a time. We can help you learn to thrive by reconnecting with creativity, community, emotions and nature. We can help you overcome your sense of overwhelm, and fall in love with life again... and then inspire other people (your students, children, clients, or family and friends) to do the same.

Whether you're a teacher, a lecturer, a parent, a coach, a tutor, a mentor, a volunteer in a community organization, or just someone who wants to make a difference but hasn't figured out where to start... it starts when you join Reconnecting Education, with monthly contributions of $1 (around UK £0.82) to $20 (£16.40) for basic memberships, and sign the 12 Pledges.  At higher levels of membership ($50 or $100 per month), you'll have full access to our exclusive e-course 'Overcome Overwhelm and Learn to Love Life', with either a group or private video coaching call every month.

At the same time, we can work at the national and global level too, to raise awareness of the Four Elements of Learning to Love Life and encourage policy-makers to take them seriously.   We can connect up existing initiatives on mindfulness, mental health, nature-connection, art therapy, and non-violent communication - with the Four Elements model as the 'glue' that links them all together.

By contributing to this movement, you increase the number of people who are able to use their time, energy and skills to build this vision.  You help to cover website and graphic design costs, launch pilot projects in schools in the UK and Tanzania, publish books, and make a short film.  You fund social media training, travel expenses, and conference costs to get the project on to national and international stages.

Let’s spread the word.  Please share this Patreon page with everyone you know on social media.  Add a personal note, if possible, when you send it to people who are already working in education!

If you want to get more deeply involved, please tell me about your skills and passions, and how you’d like to use them in service of this vision.  When we work together, we can change the face of education even faster!

Make a note of today's date.  Go on, I dare you, write it in your journal.  Maybe you’ll look back in ten years’ time and say, “That was it.  That was the day it all started.”

Thank you so much!

Gemma

“Light my heart, reveal the best in me,
Light my path and show me the way:
This one step reclaims my destiny,
This one action changes my day…”

(From the song ‘Warrior Maiden’ by Gemma Burford, 2016)

ABOUT PATREON:

Please note that Patreon is a platform for recurring monthly donations, which is fantastic for me because it gives me a consistent level of income and helps to reduce anxieties about bills!  You can pledge at any level you feel comfortable with - and you're always free to cancel your pledge at any time, or reduce the amount, if your circumstances change.  

ABOUT ME:

Firstly, if you don't know who I am, congratulations on reading this far! 

My name is Gemma Burford and I'm a freelance consultant specializing in education for sustainability and well-being (a.k.a. Learning to Love Life).  I'm the founder of Reconnecting Education, and of Thought Leaders in Education for Sustainability.  I live in the New Forest, in the south of England, with my two daughters and a hamster. 

So how did I get here?

You may well ask!  It's been quite a journey - half-way around the world and back again. 

It all started in 1999, when I was still a Biochemistry student at Oxford University and a friend invited me to attend a cultural festival in Tanzania, East Africa. 

After the festival, I set out with a group of youth from the organizing committee to do some hiking in the foothills of Mount Meru.  On that trip, we realized we didn't want the dream to die because the festival was over!  We set up an arts organization called Aang Serian (`House of Peace' in the Maasai language) and started raising money for music projects.

Later that same year, I was offered an internship with the Global Initiative for Traditional Systems (GIFTS) of Health to organize a conference on medicinal plants and malaria - also in the north of Tanzania!  That was the start of a 10-year learning journey with GIFTS of Health and Aang Serian, which involved a wide variety of different projects - researching local herbal medicines, creating an intercultural education curriculum inspired by Indigenous leaders at the United Nations, working on an Indigenous youth media project and helping hip-hop artists to record anti-HIV songs, to name but a few.  

At 24, the summer before I was due to take up a British government scholarship to do a Masters degree in Environmental Anthropology, I was asked to stand in for the manager of a small scoping project (funded by the United Nations) on Maasai knowledge and conservation of medicinal plants.  I ended up marrying my research assistant, a Maasai warrior, and working with him to set up a cultural tourism company and build a secondary school in a remote village!  If you're in the UK, you might have seen our traditional Maasai wedding ceremony in the media. 

We were also funded by an international donor for a grassroots campaign against female genital mutilation and HIV/AIDS, which was very successful because of its creative approach - using traditional choirs to sensitize communities, and working with specific groups to talk about their reasons for practicing FGM and how they could achieve their goals without the cutting.

Six years later, the tour company collapsed during the global recession, and my marriage also fell apart.  I came back to England with my two daughters, and took up a new job as a Research Officer in Values and Sustainability at the University of Brighton (later Research Fellow).  We developed ways of giving people deeper insights into what matters most to them - what they find most valuable, meaningful, and worthwhile - and helping them to design and evaluate projects on the basis of those values. 

In November 2016, I left the University to start my own freelance consultancy, and immediately felt the urge to start writing a book.  Since then, my life has changed beyond all recognition, and in February 2017, Reconnecting Education was born!

After all my journeys - learning from some of the world's leading science lecturers at Oxford University, and from Maasai shamans living in mud huts in the East African savanna - I've finally found the vision that I've been searching for.  It's a lot bigger and scarier than I expected! I never imagined I'd find myself thinking about trying to change entire education systems - and, in the process, transforming people's well-being too.  But if you're going to have a dream, you might as well make it big...

So this goes out to all the other crazy dreamers out there.  Don't ask, "What if it doesn't work?".  Ask yourself, "What if it DOES work?"  What have you got to lose?  A dollar a month, or $3, or $5, or $10, or $20.  It's not as if I'm asking you for a million dollars.  (Although if you happen to have a million dollars lying around, or a thousand, or even a couple of hundred, and feel inspired to invest in this vision with a larger one-off or monthly donation, I'm not going to refuse...)

Let's take the first step right now,and begin...  

Back to the main Reconnecting Education website

Recent posts by Gemma Burford

Tiers
Contribute $1 per month
$1 or more per month 0 patrons
Thanks for being a part of our global movement!  You'll receive our patron-only news feed, and a copy of the 12 Pledges that you can print out and sign :)


Contribute $3 per month
$3 or more per month 1 patron
You'll receive the patrons-only news feed and the 12 Pledges, plus a full colour A4 poster of the Four Elements of Learning to Love Life.
Contribute $5 per month
$5 or more per month 0 patrons
You'll receive a full colour A4 poster and the Reconnecting Education 'Pledge Calendar', reminding you when it's time to start working on a new Pledge, as well as access to the Patron-only news feed.
Contribute $10 per month
$10 or more per month 0 patrons
You'll receive a new 'Learning to Love Life' activity booklet every month, with suggestions on how to put that month's Pledge into action in your own life... plus the A4 poster, Pledge Calendar, and Patron-only news feed.
Contribute $20 per month
$20 or more per month 0 patrons
You'll get a new Resource Pack each month, with suggestions for things you can do to put that month's Pledge into action in your school or organisation.  You can join our `20:20 Vision' private Facebook group and also receive all previous rewards.
Contribute $50 per month
$50 or more per month 0 patrons
We'll sign you up to our 'Overcome Overwhelm and Learn to Love Life' e-course, with a monthly group video call, and access to e-mail Q&A support, plus all previous rewards.
Contribute $100 per month
$100 or more per month 0 patrons
You'll be signed up to the e-course and a PRIVATE, one-to-one video call (45 minutes) every month, as well as priority Q&A support, your name and (optional) photo or and/logo on our website, and all previous rewards.