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David Bidler: Why education needs to consider physiology, first

episode 47

David Bidler and
Sarah Pottle

a conversation co-created by

Regenerative Ed is produced by Grounded Teaching and community-powered. share it with a friend! We love you! Your energy and spirit and what we can all do collectively for a more regenerative future is what is keeping this show going.

I’m so inspired right now by the change in the air that’s September. I’ve got a lot of personal changes happening in my life this week, lots of shifting of perspectives and re-prioritizing things and breaking super old, rutted out patterns, and I’m learning to embrace the idea of transitions and change wholeheartedly, embracing the challenge of getting uncomfortable, hoisting myself out of my old neural pathways into new neural pathways. I was telling my husband it feels like I’m halfway there, like I’ve hoisted myself out of a trench, but I’m doing one of those belly hangs on the top of the trench, trying to lift my leg over– and I can see the new neural pathway– the new patterns, the new ways to go about life in this particular area, I can see it! I can almost touch it. I’m still a little in-between.

Maybe that’s you for any area of your life, but if you’re especially thinking about change, transitions, and the space in-between as a human educator who wants to break out of the extractive educational industrial complex, you can actually do this along with us in our educator group called We Are Verbs. It’s called We are Verbs because we are so much more than any static identifier, we’re always shifting and growing.! You can join us for $1 for the first month using the code PODCAST. And It’s for any educator: a classroom teacher, a homeschool parent, a pod teacher, an outdoor educator, a community college professor, etc. The link is in the show notes, we would LOVE to meet you in there. Code PODCAST for $1. We’ve got a monthly workbook, a workshop coming up on the equinox, we’ve got a book club– we’re reading about fungi, we’ve got a Community Skillshare on Nonviolent Communication– jump in and engage in everything, or just dip your toe into the learning and community-building opportunities. Again, this month, we’re talking about transitions, change, the space in-between.

And I’m stoked about today’s guest because what we talk about goes along SO well with change, with getting a little uncomfortable, with the importance of that, actually in our bodies. Our guest today is David Bidler. While we’re all life, embodied. That’s literally what we all are, David exudes being-aliveness, if I may say. His energy and enthusiasm are so contagious that both times I’ve had the pleasure of having long conversations with him, I got off the phone wanting to lift heavy weights or go for a run, no joke. Not because he told me too, but because he makes me feel like I can do these simple things that are actually so powerful. I really believe you’ll feel empowered by listening, too.

David is the President of the non-profit organization called Physiology First. He’s an author, speaker, and social entrepreneur. He’s got an amazing backstory of leaving traditional education at the age of 14 and going on to find his own way towards purpose and success, he’s opened successful businesses based on human performance, he’s built programs with incredible neuroscientists, and his latest project, physiology first, is working with students and allied health care professionals to train them to know how to put their physiology first. They teach skills like breathing properly, muscle training, ice baths, saunas, but also so much more: how to be a community member, how to trust yourself, how to become a leader, how to learn your own body, how to be resilient, how to be less reactive, and the list goes on when you, as David says, put physiology first.

During the interview we talk about how education– an entire sector that primarily WORKS with brains, let alone the humans connected to the brains, how we do not talk about the physiology of brain health. We talk al lot about the low-hanging fruit that can help students learn easier, the concept of lazy kids, how you can educate more efficiently if we were to put physiology first, we talk about the youth mental health crisis and the connection to algorithms we adults build and confirmation bias and dopamine, we talked about how if you build cool shit kids will come, we talked about nor normalizing demoralization in a workplace culture– the attitude of, “eh, you know, LIVING THE DREAM” how that permeates and can have devastating effects… and so much more. It was a fantastic conversation, and I see this work as not only important for thinking about a new way to educate humans in the future, but as an ESSENTIAL COMPONENT of it. And, David does too.

I hope that you make some great connections and get as inspired by this conversation with David as I am. Definitely check him out in the information that’s linked in the show notes. And, without further ado, I bring you, David Bidler.

Regenerative Ed Patreon

We Are Verbs Community (use code: podcast )

Show links

Physiology first website

Instagram: @physiologyfirst

Twitter: @physiologyfirst

David Bidler is an author, speaker, and social entrepreneur.

As owner of The Distance Project, a human performance training center in Freeport, Maine, David has studied and applied the science of physiology across the lifespan.

Through assessments on breathing, heart rate variability, and biometrics related to health and longevity David has utilized science-based tools to optimize human performance for close to a decade.

In 2018 David began collaborating with Dr. Jose Herrero, a NYC based neuroscientist specializing in how breathing impacts the brain. This collaboration led to David’s participation in clinical research with patients, presentations on respiratory physiology for hospitals, and application of science-based breathing exercises with students and athletes across the globe. This collaboration inspired David to author Breathe to Perform: Simple Breathing Exercises to Reduce Stress, Improve Energy, and Peak Athletic Performance.

As co-founder of Breathe to Perform, a consulting company specializing in the science of stress physiology, David works with companies and teams to implement health and wellness practices with measurable, scaleable results.

David was instrumental in founding Physiology First in 2019. “The greatest problem of our time is the mental health of the next generation of problem solvers. We need to employ every tool in the health, wellness, and performance training toolbox for give the leaders of tomorrow the skills and tools they need today.”

David is currently co-designing curriculum for the New Teacher’s Academy in Hoboken, N.J as well as a worldwide professional development program, The Functional Physiology Certification, to help educators and allied health professionals bring the Physiology First model to their private practices, schools, and communities. 

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