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Should your teacher be "official"?

 
Rob Meyer
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So I'm currently shopping around for a PDC, and there's a lot of good places in the area. One, however, who shall remain nameless, doesn't seem to be certified by any official PRI. They claim to have a great deal of experience, and from watching their videos, checking their site, and seeing pictures of their student's work, they seem to be pretty knowledgeable and skilled at teaching. Should this lack of certification (or at least lack of readily presented credentials) be a red flag? They're one of the most well known teachers in the area, and seem to know what they're talking about, but if they don't have the official blessing, I don't know if I want to waste my money.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Personally I would have problems with it. The founder of permaculture, Bill Mollison, stipulated that anyone can use the word "permaculture" if they adhere to the ethics of permaculture, but that teaching permaculture is restricted to those who have a certificate to teach permaculture. For me, it would not be ok for someone to claim to be teaching permaculture (especially for money) while willfully violating the wishes of the man who founded permaculture. It would indicate to me that the person has a low standard of ethics.
 
Leila Rich
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I second Tyler. In order to teach a PDC, the instructor must at the very least have done a PDC themselves. I think less rigorous rules apply if someone's offering permaculture 'courses', 'workshops' etc.
The word permaculture is copyright-protected and Bill Mollison built safety valves into who can and can't teach a PDC.
 
paul wheaton
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bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
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This is a painful and awkward topic.

I know of some people that have taken a PDC and they are supposedly teaching PDCs but they are utterly awful. They really don't get it and it is all about suckering dopes into parting with their money. It is damn nasty.

For most people in the permaculture world that have taken a PDC I think the answer would be a slam dunk: how can they teach a PDC if they have not taken one?

Helen Atthowe has not taken a PDC, yet I could see here doing an admirable job. But I also cannot see her attempting to travel this path. The same goes for Mark Van der Meer. And they are both so advanced, asking them to take two weeks to attend a PDC would be like telling them to stop teaching at the university for two weeks in order to go be a third grade student for two weeks. So it seems a bit odd.

Has sepp holzer ever taken a PDC? I doubt it. But he doesn't teach a PDC either.

If the permaculture stuff says that you cannot teach one unless you have taken one, then it seems that somebody traveling this path is saying that they don't respect the system they are trying to teach.

Further, suppose you want to teach PDCs later in life. Do you want the cooperation of the other big names in permaculture? My impression is that they are very uncooperative with people that have not followed what they consider the correct path.

I think taking a PDC from an official instructor is showing respect for the folks that went to the trouble of defining what a PDC is and set all this awesome stuff in motion. And, it seems to me, that the "official" process is freaky simple - it's not like they are asking that you go to ten years of college first - just that you take a two week course.

I think if Helen or Mark or Sepp wanted to teach an official PDC, they would arrange to be guest instructors at an official PDC, hang out for the whole thing, and then they would have officially taken a PDC and then they could officially teach it. I cannot imagine any of them teaching it without showing proper respect to the greater community. So it feels ..... stomach-ache-ish to contemplate that there are people out there that are calling their stuff a PDC when they have not paid their itty-bitty dues.

 
Ernie Wisner
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Well i have to second Paul in this; I learned PC from some of the huge stars in the movement and because of the type of permaculture i was taught i don't teach PDC. What Erica and i do is get invited to teach the appropriate tech part of PDC and sometimes we get to hang out and answer questions.
 
Jonathan Hontz
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Location: Denver, CO
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It really depends upon what you want to do with the knowledge. If you'd like to go out and teach PDC's eventually, then you'll want to look for someone certified. If you just want to get the knowledge and have some fun, then there's absolutely no reason to go anywhere other than the place you want to go, certification or not. Denying yourself that opportunity would be like saying that only PDC graduates are allowed to read the hugelkultur thread. If the knowledge is there, it works whether or not it's Mollison-approved.

Price should also be a factor. If you're paying the same amount of money as an official course, then why not just go get the fun certificate? If it's significantly cheaper, that might be something to sway you in the direction of the bootleg course. If you never plan to use the word "permaculture" in any formal capacity, then having permission to do so is unnecessary.

To me, this is also similar to the USDA organic certification. The certification says something, but there are better options out there that don't include the little green-and-white label. That doesn't undermine the USDA (as much as I'd like that to be true) and you still get good quality food. A farmer who doesn't seek the organic label is in the same boat. She won't get the perks of having the label, like being able to put the logo on her wares and being able to say "organic" in reference to her stuff, but if none of that matters, then who cares?

Figure out what you want to do with the knowledge, learn a little more about your instructor, and I think the answer will fall into your lap. Hope that helps!
 
Fred Morgan
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I would say either show an awesome understanding of the principals, like sepp holzer by your own large project - and I am not talking a small garden, we are talking hectares, or have the certification course.

I say that because I don't have a degree in forestry, but I have visitors, including forestry engineers, all the time to look at what we have done - and it isn't a small scale experiment, 350 hectares isn't a hobby farm.

Heck, I don't have a degree in anything, but I was a world class software developer too - or so people told me, and paid me accordingly.

Theory you can get from books - quickly. But the cost of a PDC seems very minimal honestly.
 
                            
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Location: Ava, Mo, USA, Earth
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I think people may be talking about two different things here. As I understand it, the only original requirement to teach a PDC was to have taken a PDC. However, somewhere along the line Bill changed the rules and said all teachers had to be registered with a Permaculture Institute that his organization had blessed. There are only a relative few people in the USA that ever bothered to do that.

I did a PDC mainly so that I could teach PC with some legitimacy, however it forced me to look at some parts of permaculture that I didn't think _I_ needed and had therefore not looked into ver much. If a person has not been through a legitimate PDC, they may or may not know as much as they think they do. However, I wouldn't require more than that from them.

 
Lacia Lynne Bailey
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Location: Seattle, WA
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I think for folks already DOING much of this work or other full time jobs, families etc, getting away for 2-3 week long PDC can be hard. And the weekend commuter classes really shortchange students from my experience with both. I started multiple courses over a few years before I was able to finish one. The price of a degree is showing up and going through the process. That's the way it works. I know I could study and pass the knowledge component for academic degrees, life experience is slowly being allowed more and more in that world, and Permaculture might move that way one day too. The most effective change comes from the inside, not from those who appear to be trying to get something by going around it.

As others have said, both that they learned things thru the PDC process that they never thought they would and thought they knew it all after reading and studying on their own, and that teaching something while disrespecting the history and precedent, is a little disingenuous in my opinion.

I need to go back and take an English writing class, LOL.
 
Leila Rich
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I want to clarify my previous comment: I definitely don't think people need to have a PDC in order to do and teach amazing stuff, but it gets poretty hard separating the wheat(ons) from the chaff if there's no official curriculum or expectations.
 
Fred Morgan
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I think there is another factor to consider here. A teacher is not just someone who knows material but can impart it too. The PDC gives someone a format to follow, and hopefully they have a skill as a teacher. There are brilliant people out there who know a lot more than a teacher, but they aren't a teacher.

If I was looking for someone to be a teacher, I wouldn't only look for credentials, but the proven ability to teach.

Then again, for me, I just want to have the book, and no teacher.
 
And now I present magical permaculture hypno cards. The idea is to give them to people that think all your permaculture babble is crazy talk. And be amazed as they apologize for the past derision, and beg you for your permaculture wisdom. If only there were some sort of consumer based event coming where you could have an excuse to slip them a deck ... richsoil.com/cards
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