Pedagogy for Restoration

Addressing Social and Ecological Degradation through Education

by David Krzesni (Author)
©2015 Textbook 232 Pages
Series: Counterpoints, Volume 503


Pedagogy for Restoration seeks to understand the conditions leading to the destruction of Earth in order to discover pedagogy for restoration. As we degrade the planet we degrade ourselves and as we degrade ourselves we degrade the planet. Moral development and socialization significantly influence our participation in, construction of, or resistance to the systems of oppression that degrade us. The process of restorative education recognizes that humans are fundamentally good and moral and seeks to promote healthy moral development. We must help students meet their basic needs, center their own identities and experience, and simultaneously emphasize community and relationships to help them find a sense of purpose. These efforts facilitate social and ecological restoration by allowing students to reach a physical and emotional place that is conducive to learning and self-efficacy so that they may engage with whatever issues they find important in their own way and on their own terms.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • Advance Praise for Pedagogy for Restoration
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Preface
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  • Part I: The Status Quo
  • Chapter 1. Environmental Education
  • Chapter 2. Oppression
  • Part II: Empathy and Morality
  • Chapter 3. Empathy
  • Chapter 4. Morality
  • Chapter 5. Social Influence and Individual Difference
  • Part III: Pedagogy for Restoration
  • Chapter 6. Pedagogy of Basic Needs
  • Chapter 7. Pedagogy of Identity
  • Chapter 8. Pedagogy of Purpose
  • Chapter 9. Insights for Environmental Education
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • References
  • Index
  • Series index

← viii | ix →


The United States is a nation defined by its original sin: the genocide of American Indians. Everything afterward is just another chapter in the fall from grace…. No reparation, no penance, no atonement can ever erase the eternity of genocide. Life ever after will be forever stained by the attainment of this “carnal knowledge.” Such an inauspicious beginning raises significant questions about the viability of this so-called democratic experiment: Is it possible for democracy to grow from the seeds of tyranny? Can the “good life” be built upon the death of thousands? (Grande, 2004, p. 31)

I began this project as a student at Western Washington University, an institution built on occupied territory of the Lummi Nation. As a graduate of that institution, I find myself to be complicit in the continuing process of colonization of America. But I refuse to silently collude by ignoring inconvenient and uncomfortable truths. Colonization is not a historical event and the oppressive, violent, tragic, and painful results of the ongoing invasion of America are plain to see for anyone who dares look with a critical eye. They are also easily ignored. Many of us have the luxury to overlook or even deny that people are suffering and dying at the expense of our own privilege and ignorance. To begin this project of restoration in any other way than to acknowledge colonization would be not only fraudulent, but also demeaning ← ix | x → of those who suffer this injustice, to those who are targeted by oppression, and to all of those already working for restoration.

I have constantly wondered whether any vision for a better world is inevitably short sighted when imagined within the academy. As one of the great thinkers of our time, Albert Einstein was not only concerned with theoretical physics, but as a German Jewish refugee, was also deeply concerned with civil rights. Having been alive during the atrocities of World War II, including the United States’ use of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Einstein worried that history would repeat itself. Einstein (1946) wrote:

Today we must abandon competition and secure cooperation. This must be the central fact in all our considerations of international affairs; otherwise we face certain disaster. Past thinking and methods did not prevent world wars. Future thinking must prevent wars.

The “past thinking” that Einstein denounced was the dominant Western way of thinking often referred to as Western Modern Science1 (WMS) (Ogawa, 1995). Einstein did not denounce the scientific and technologic outcomes of WMS that made the invention of the atomic bomb possible, but the competition and domination that may be inherent in modernism. Warfare was/is much less common in hunter-gatherer societies and warfare of the scale and magnitude that Western society has experienced likely arose with agriculture and industrialization (Abrams, Coast Community College District, & KOCE-TV, 2002).

This project of restoration is centered in academia and conducted in a manner congruent with WMS. This work may be inseparably associated with systems of oppression structured to produce and communicate knowledge in ways that maintain the status quo (Horkheimer & Adorno, 1944/2002). Furthermore, it has been said that “the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house” (Lorde, 1984, p. 110). As a Black2 lesbian feminist, Lorde (1984) was writing about the hierarchy, oppression, and relations of power within (and beyond) feminism. Lorde suggested that the presence of such “tools of a racist patriarchy” would undermine feminist efforts, ensuring “that only the most narrow parameters of change are possible and allowable” (Lorde, 1984, p. 110).

Many interpret Lorde’s (1984) essay more generally and suggest that academia itself is one of the master’s tools. I recognize the presence of hierarchy, power, and oppression in academia, but that doesn’t condemn the entire institution. I think Lorde was referring to the social relations associated with institutions such as academia rather than those institutions in their entirety. We ← x | xi → must be vigilant and critical of the structures we operate within and careful that we don’t use the master’s tools in ways that support the master’s cause (oppression). If we challenge the master’s rule and constantly work to refuse to conduct ourselves according to the master’s rules, I believe we can fight oppression within the academy. In fact, academia is one of many fronts where we must work to bring about structural change. Thus, I carefully and critically proceed within the WMS framework while attempting to leave space for multiple epistemologies.

However, it is problematic to presume that one could envision any utopian future from a space in which these problems exist and deeply shape our minds. Even if this could be done sufficiently to imagine an incremental improvement, the “timeless nature of the gap between the world of our aspirations, hopes, and dreams and the world we create with our policies, practices, and every day actions” (Loeber, van Mierlo, Grin, & Leeuwis, 2007) must be addressed and somehow bridged. Glasser (2007) offered a poem written in Egypt four thousand years ago illustrating the timeless nature of this gap.

To whom can I speak today?

The gentle man3 [sic] has perished

The violent man [sic] has access to everybody.

To whom can I speak today?

The iniquity that smites the land

It has no end.

To whom can I speak today?

There are no righteous men [sic]

The earth is surrendered to criminals. (p. 40)

The tragedy is not in the identification of iniquity, but in the loss of hope. The quote clearly identifies the crisis as a moral one with physical manifestations realized when humans collectively fail to live up to their potential. It also illustrates that much of our modern concerns over the future have plagued generations of humans and are not contemporary issues. Multiple religions and worldviews hold that there was a time in history when our potential was more fully realized. Much of the philosophy and religion of modern Western civilization is consumed with understanding how, when, and why we went wrong (e.g., the Fall in Christianity and critique of the Neolithic Revolution in WMS). However, as long as we are able to recognize a gap between the world we seek and the world we create and maintain that it can be bridged, we have a vision for change and a source of hope. ← xi | xii →

The central question of this work is whether an academic investigation into the dominance, oppression, and exploitation by humans over ourselves and the planet could be of any utility. The task, within a colonized institution, on occupied territory, using the master’s tools, to envision a future that may be unimaginable from our current vantage point, with any hope to bridge the gap between that vision and its fruition, sounds impossible. Upon much reflection, however, I have concluded that this is no deterrent at all. There simply is no acceptable alternative but to attempt the project of restoration from every possible angle, including efforts within the structures and epistemologies of domination. As Einstein (1946) concluded:

Science has brought forth this danger, but the real problem is in the minds and hearts of men [sic]. We will not change the hearts of other men [sic] by mechanism, but by changing our hearts and speaking bravely…. When we are clear in heart and mind—only then shall we find courage to surmount the fear which haunts the world.

Thus, my aim through this project is not to argue specific ideology but to investigate how we may become clear in our hearts and minds. I aim to make what is intuitive and knowable in every human epistemology undeniable in the epistemology of WMS. This intuitive knowledge relates to the ways we interact with one another and with the planet. It is a need for justice as a matter of survival. We can, will, and must achieve a greater potential if we are to remain a viable species on planet Earth. We face crisis, but we have not yet crossed the threshold into oblivion. We must collectively engage in a process of restoration.

The project of restoration is fundamentally one of hope. I am deeply inspired by accounts of rescuers who subjected themselves and their families to unimaginable risk in order to save the lives of victims of the Holocaust (Oliner & Oliner, 1988). Oliner and Oliner (1988) described the importance of hope for those rescuers:


ISBN (Hardcover)
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2015 (October)
Environmental Education Moral earth
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2015. 256 pp.

Biographical notes

David Krzesni (Author)

David Krzesni is passionate about helping young people lead active, healthy, and purposeful lives and has worked in community health, public schools, and afterschool programs. David teaches high school mathematics and facilitates project-based learning and outdoor enrichment activities. David earned his master’s degree in environmental education from Western Washington University and his bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology.


Title: Pedagogy for Restoration