Patterns of change and the art of co-creation.
Philosophy of nature and the foundations of organic systemic change.

This paper is about change. As a social pedagogue, we investigate the possibility of a blueprint, an underlying pattern in the process of change on micro, meso and macro levels. Stable and sustainable change occurs through agogic action which comes about as organically as possible. Change will thus follow the phasing and rhythm of natural change and will match the systemic character of our community.

In study I, we look for inspiration among contemporary adult educational models, concepts and methods. Profound transformation and deep learning are built on personal responsibility and probity. Requirements for sustainable change include a functioning inner teleology, a sense of flow, attention to the mind-body connection and physical signs, multilevel learning and an open attitude towards one’s own convictions and mental models. Presence, the state of being fully present, is key to in-depth change. Transcendence and presence lead us to co- creative change.

In study II, we explore the philosophy of science dimension, to examine the foundations of our adult educational model. Popper, Penrose and Ellis lead us to a layered ontology, in which reality consists of five layers. While the material layer, the subjective layer, the social layer, the archetypal upper-mental layer and the implicit layer all describe the same reality, distinct laws apply to each. Ratio, empiricism and causality apply in the material layer. The outer layers demand more subtle forms of knowledge and a ‘primary knowing’ that starts with presence and in which change in the microcosm mirrors transitions in the macrocosm. The connectivity with the other and the whole becomes more important in the outer layers. This leads to an axiology in which inclusion, ecology and responsibility are important values. In Western philosophy, we hardly find any theoretical input with regard to the outer layers, but find numerous references in the Tao and ancient Greek stories.

In study III, an examination of the elements and phases of change brings us to a co-creative five-phase process model, derived from the cycles of change found in nature. This model not only displays the nutritional and thus growth-promoting systemic forces, but also the controlling, stabilizing powers. Each phase has its own characteristic features and specific position. Every sustainable process of change follows this natural dynamic. We call agogic action within this five-phase model ‘co-creative’. The social pedagogue is the co-creator. After adding four transition points to the model, we construct a matrix of co-creative action as a toolbox for the co-creator. In each of the nine matrix points, change comes from a creative tension of two opposite poles, akin to yin and yang in Taoist tradition. The co-creator works with these internal tensions at micro level and their actions follow the phases of the co-creative process.

In study IV, we compare five classic models of change and the model of the learning organization with that of the co-creative model.

In study V, we enrich our model with insights from the theory of living autopoietic systems. This theory significantly increases the applicability of the co-creative model in the context of major social systems and the socio-political order in global society. We further explore some themes through metalogue’s.

With the co-creative model, we bring to light the dynamics of the re-emergence and evolution of reality: both the microcosm of personal change, and the origin and dynamics of social fabric and social order. With the art of co-creation, we outline the rhythm of nature following a dynamic pattern of organic ecological change. Our hypothesis is that co-creative action can lead to another ecological, inclusive and harmonious means of living together.