Letting go to let come …re-assessing death and desire in a post-pandemic world

By Dr Charlotte von Bülow

The current situation is a harsh and unforgiving reality for most people around the globe. People are suffering and many are losing livelihoods or lives. We must keep all those people in our awareness as we, who are self-isolating but essentially still have our good health, are given the opportunity to reflect and re-imagine new ways of thinking, feeling and being on this planet.

Let us take note: the climate crisis did not bring the world of work to a standstill – it was a sudden widespread fear of statistics showing impending illness and death that did it. It took a global pandemic to make us stop and think. Most of the people I have talked to in the last three weeks describe their inner state as a strange combination of deep anxiety about the future and a sense of liberation from the treadmill.

Each day at work as an educational activist, researcher, consultant or coach, I engage deeply with others in the following questions:

    • What would a post-pandemic economy look like?
    • What is the impact on our attention as a result of a life led primarily online?
    • What can we do to ensure that this situation is not only a crisis but an opportunity?
    • What have we learnt so far from not having the things we think we need at our fingertips?
    • Can we start to re-evaluate our so-called needs and wants in light of what we are experiencing now, and can we put such learning to good use in the design of new ways of being on this planet?

With various countries offering support to employers and the self-employed, a new era has begun for sure, but are we gratefully taking what is being offered whilst continuing to hanker after what we knew and what we had? Or are we ready to embrace the new and, if so, at what cost?

I recommend reading The Coronation by Charles Eisenstein and I suggest you ponder his perspective. It is a longish read but stick with it and tell us what you think. I invite you to contemplate in particular Eisenstein’s point about our relationship to death and dying well. In my view, it is not only our relationship to death itself but the death also of what we desire.

This point about death and the relinquishment of desire is made also by Professor Jem Bendell, whose forthcoming book I am honoured to author a chapter for with my co-researcher, Charlotte Simpson. Charlotte and I are asking educators, pupils, parents and activists four questions inspired by the Deep Adaptation framework:

    • Resilience: what aspects of education as we know it would we want to keep developing and learn from in a climate of change and complexity?
    • Relinquishment: what aspects of our current education system would we want to let go of?
    • Restoration: what would we want to re-introduce in education, for example, can we re-imagine past practices and can we learn from other cultures past and present?
    • Reconciliation: how do we facilitate hope and agency in the hearts and minds of children and young people and the people who take responsibility for their education?

How do we learn to let go in order to let come? We talk of innovation but where do we find the courage to commit to actual tangible change? Professor Gert Biesta speaks and writes about The Beautiful Risk of Education and he gives education of the future the task of figuring out how we can put our desires in perspective. If the health of our planet and all living beings on it relies on a major attitude shift, re-evaluating our relationship to death and the relinquishing of desires has to be among the things we need to work on now.

… there is so much more to say but, for now, join the debate. Let us know what the current situation is inspiring you to do differently. Share


Dr Charlotte von Bülow is a Senior Lecturer in Leadership at the Bristol Business School, Faculty of Business and Law, University of the West of England. She is the Founder of the Crossfields Institute Group (UK) a recognised awarding organisation for holistic and integrative education, a higher education institute and a consultancy for supporting change in businesses, charities and communities. Charlotte served as the CEO of the Crossfields Institute Group for twelve years and is the founding Director of Crossfields Europa (based in Denmark), a branch within the group offering consulting and executive coaching internationally. Charlotte has worked as a consultant and executive coach for over a decade, serving individuals, groups and organisations the world over.  

New Philosophy and Practice of Integrated Education qualification launched

Crossfields Institute is delighted to announce the launch of

Crossfields Institute Level 7 Diploma in the Philosophy and Practice of Integrative Education

This qualification is open for registrations from Wednesday 4th March 2020

The qualification was developed in response to the major social, environmental and technological changes that are being experienced globally, and the changing skills and competences that young people need. As a response to these challenges, many educators are now experimenting with new approaches to teaching and learning with the aim of nurturing capacities such as creative thinking, empathy, resilience and resourcefulness. This qualification invites teachers and school leaders onto a journey of creative exploration that can serve as a catalyst for positive change within their own thinking and within their practice as educators.

Crossfields Learning is passionate about education in all its forms, and has a vision to inspire, innovate and initiate positive social change towards a better world for all. They design and deliver workshops, short courses, conferences, in-service training and specialist higher education programmes within the UK and around the world.

Crossfields Institute is a Gloucestershire based education charity, approved by Ofqual (the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulations in England) as an awarding organisation. The Institute specialises in the development of specialist qualifications for providers with a particular vision or ethos.

New Equine Facilitated Learning qualification launched

Crossfields Institute and LEAP Equine are delighted to announce the launch of

Crossfields Institute Level 4 Diploma in Equine Facilitated Learning: the LEAP method

This qualification is open for registrations from Monday 2nd March 2020

This Crossfields Institute qualification was created in collaboration with LEAP Equine in order to bring professional standards into a fast growing and as yet unregulated field. The qualification emphasises the development of maturity, self-awareness, authenticity, safe and ethical practice.

    • Any learners who are interested in finding out more about this qualification should contact LEAP Equine on 0776 0776 500 or at info@leapequine.com
    • Any organisations wishing to deliver this qualification should contact the Crossfields Institute Quality Team qualityassurance@crossfieldsinstitute.com 01453 808118

Crossfields Institute is a Gloucestershire based education charity, approved by Ofqual (the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulations in England) as an awarding organisation. The Institute specialises in the development of specialist qualifications for providers with a particular vision or ethos.

LEAP Equine’s aim is to provide safe and healing Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy (EFP) and Equine Facilitated Learning (EFL) for individuals and groups, and to provide high quality, professional training for those who wish to become EFP/L practitioners.

Crossfields Consulting Launches New Workshops

For over a decade, we have helped businesses, charities, schools, colleges, universities and communities strategise, innovate and transform. We are delighted to offer the following new workshops to organisations that are ready for change –

    1. Working with uncertainty and complexity in the workplace
    2. Care, creativity and courage in the workplace
    3. Creating a culture of effective and creative client facing work
    4. Developing self and others in the workplace
    5. Performance and development reviews that make a difference
    6. Competent moment-to-moment facilitation and leadership in the workplace
    7. How to hold a meeting that matters
    8. The Art and Craft of Delegation

Each workshops can be delivered on location for smaller or larger teams. Duration and details can be customised to meet the needs of the individual organisation or team.

Contact us for more information and to speak to our expert faculty.

January 24-25 2020 Launch of New Educational Leadership Programme

Managing change and complexity is one of the most frequent issues facing leaders, managers and their organisations today. How do we navigate confidently and competently in this climate of moving goalposts, environmental, social, political and financial challenges and intensifying compliance demands? How do we balance these issues with the need to maintain focus on those we aim to serve and the vision we hope to realise for a better world?

Crossfields Learning has launched a new Educational Leadership Programme with the senior leadership team of a large UK independent school with a vision. Committed to meeting the emerging needs of the school, the programme is customised and consists of a series of workshops, all certified and delivered over a period of 6 months.

For more information, contact Crossfields Learning.

First Graduates of Level 2 Integrated Education Certificate

Congratulations to students from Raheen Wood ALFA school in Ireland, who are the first graduates of the Crossfields Institute Level 2 Integrated Education Certificate. Their teacher, Cormac Griffith, is a recent graduate from the Post-Graduate Certificate in the Philosophy and Practice of Integrative Education, delivered by Crossfields Learning. The students’ Independent Projects were inspiring and very diverse, and they confidently demonstrated development of their Creative Thinking Skills. Find out more about the ACTS project and Creative Thinking Skills, and the suite of qualifications developed by Crossfields Institute with Creative Thinking Skills and transdisciplinarity at their core.

Teacher Cormac Griffith with 5 of the Raheen Wood ALFA students who received their Crossfields Level 2 Integrated Education Certificates.

New Integrated Education qualification for schools

Crossfields Institute is delighted to announce that a new qualification for schools has been launched.

Crossfields Institute Level 2 Integrated Education Diploma

is now open for registrations and interested schools are invited to seek centre approval.

This qualification is for students aged 14 and over and contains twelve modules, three of which are mandatory. The qualification delivers a broad curriculum which will be taught and assessed using transdisciplinary work, with a focus on collaborative and individual project work and problem solving.  It includes an Independent Project module that enables students to follow their passion and explore an interest or career aspiration in depth and modules that assess Creative Thinking Skills, and Personal and Social Learning Skills, drawing on formal, non-formal and informal learning and any area of the taught curriculum.

This qualification has been developed to encourage more transdisciplinary work across subjects, increase students’ ability to think laterally and work creatively. As schools are increasingly constrained by knowledge-focused, high stakes exam based qualifications this provides an opportunity for students to think for themselves and develop as more autonomous learners. This approach is in direct response to the needs of employers who want more creative thinking in their future employees.

This qualification was developed as a result of the ACTS project (https://acts.cloud/) which was recognised and funded by Erasmus+ (Key Action 2, School Education Strategic Partnership Project 2015). The project was led by the Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship (UK) in partnership with Sammenslutningen af frie Rudolf Steiner skoler i Danmark (Denmark); Steinerskoleforbundet (Norway); Steinerkasvatuksen liitto (Finland) and Crossfields Institute. Together, the four national federations of Steiner Waldorf Schools brought a wealth of curriculum and pedagogical expertise to the project and development of this qualification.

Crossfields Institute is a Gloucestershire based education charity, approved by Ofqual (the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulations in England) as an awarding organisation. The Institute specialises in the development of qualifications that take an integrative, human-centred approach to learning and development.

Any schools who are interested in finding out more about offering this qualification should contact qualityassurance@crossfieldsinstitute.com

Job Vacancies: Finance Manager & Administrator

We are currently recruiting for a Finance Manager and/or Finance Administrator. The roles are part time, around 16 hours per week. Please see below for the details for each vacancy.

The closing date for applications is Wednesday May 29th at 12.00 noon

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Please send your CV and a personal statement to cecile@crossfieldsinstitute.com strictly by the closing date above. If you require more information, please contact Cecile Ithurbide at cecile@crossfieldsinstitute.com or by calling 01453 808118