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Human Restoration Project: Reimagining Education with Future Forward Thinking

As activist and author adrienne maree brown urges us, to “…fight for the future, get into the game, get dirty, get experimental…” – we need reimagined schools and public education now more than ever. Urgent problems like climate change, poverty, and global hunger require immediate, widespread, and collective action. They require a humane education that ensures all students are critical, empathic agents in their communities and on the global stage. A different world is possible if we overcome the distortion of our senses and see beyond broken systems. By setting our sights toward something new, we can reveal solutions that already exist today. 

More about the episode and our guests below


What if we started by listening to students?

That’s the question that lives at the heart of our professional development. At the core of every school are the students. We’re building a platform for educators, administrators, and families to connect with young people, breaking barriers toward learning and building engaging practices. Our process begins by working with multiple groups of young people of all age levels to learn about their hopes, dreams, and aspirations, connecting each to their school experience. We learn about what they love and wish could be improved.

Human Restoration Project takes these conversations and analyzes them, utilizing a high-quality transcription and collaborative discussion tool from MIT-partner Cortico. This enables us to build a multi-day interactive, hands-on professional development model that not only provides the latest in research-driven practice, but is directly built on the aspirations of young people.

Consistently, we find young people telling us the same issues that need addressed (which mirrors what we see in research):

  • Classrooms need to be increasingly collaborative, hands-on, purpose-focused, and meaningful. They should be more active and less passive.
  • Schools need to draw upon students’ lived experiences and with the assets of their local communities.
  • Assignments and projects must aim toward an interdisciplinary focus, leading to increasingly authentic learning experiences.
  • School is, well, boring. Reimagining education (see above) would lead to more engagement, higher academic achievement, and better social emotional health.
  • There’s a mental health crisis, and school structures and systems are in-part to blame, and need to change.

We’re former public school teachers and we understand that PD rarely feels worthwhile: only 29% of teachers say they are satisfied with their PD. We believe that the research-driven interactive, discussion-based model we are passionate about in our classrooms should also be how we learn with adults. Through a workshop model, educators co-design changes to their classroom.

Through our work, we have led large scale focus-group analysis with young people and community members, directed workshops, embraced PBL and interdisciplinary learning, redesigned schedules and classrooms, and co-designed entire “schools-within-schools.” One thing remains consistent: the vast majority of educators and young people want and desire change. Imagining and building a better schooling system – a better future – isn’t naivety, it’s essential for a thriving world. Individual actions snowball and propagate through systems, and each act of service, each pushback, each classroom decision can fundamentally build a better future. It’s up to us to make that tomorrow a reality.

Let’s restore humanity together.

Human Restoration Project is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization focused on restoring humanity to education: providing free resources to educators looking to make change, and working directly with schools to develop partnerships with young people, educators, and administrators in systems-based design.


Nick Covington is a former high school Social Studies teacher in Iowa public schools and Creative Director of Human Restoration Project, who promotes progressive education across the board. Nick aims to reestablish the idea of what school could be to one of student-centered success that relies on their ideas and knowledge, instead of a dictated “future ready” curriculum.
Chris McNutt is obsessed with the benefits of progressive education and wants a practical place to find everything, for free, under one roof (hence HRP!) He was a public high school digital media & design educator who centered his practice on experiential learning, purpose-driven pathways and community involvement. He is the Executive Director of Human Restoration Project.