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Teaching Permaculture without Teaching Permaculture?  RSS feed

 
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It's great to have a great resource such as Rosemary Morrow in our midst this week....
I haven't read the book. I haven't bought the book. The simplest explanation is that I haven't considered myself ready to teach permaculture.

Honestly, I just finished the online PDC this year. So I have a lot of experience to obtain before I would even consider myself good enough to do it, before I would consider myself good enough to teach it. However, I think there is a place for people like me in teaching permaculture.

It's interesting that I've lurked on the forum for so long, yet today's daily-ish email got me thinking and posting. What we really need in the permaculture movement is 'pushers'... getting people hooked on little tidbits of permaculture, and before they even realized they've been exposed to permaculture, they have become addicts to the good that permaculture is doing in their lives.

Here in the US, I am still trying to fight the stereotype that Permaculturists are a bunch of hippies that have decided to give up all their worldly possession to live off the land, and skip out on society and the system of money. I'm pretty sure that there are some that fit that description, but I, and the people that I connect with, don't fit into that description. I am trying to find ways to get people in my community exposed to permaculture in small bits.

What can we teach people to expose them to permaculture, without telling them that it's permaculture? What can we do to get people hooked on the idea, that there are better ways, without having to expose them to the end goal? How far do we have to get them before we tell them about Permaculture as whole, without the fear of them running away?

I am sure if I took some of my friends and relatives to visit Paul, the Duke.... they'd want to get far away from permaculture. Actually, I think if I would have found Permies (as it is today) 15 years ago, I would have been scared away, too. My life has been a slow transition towards permaculture, and I have a long way to go. I think getting people onto the path is the most important thing I can do. How can we easily expose the mainstream without making them feel like they are jumping off a cliff, or joining a cult?
 
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By using disruptive innovation (as Clayton Christiansen has coined it), i.e. educating children in the design science in both nature and in application in permaculture in an action-oriented, hands-on public school (or homeschool) environment. Kids will introduce pragmatic and $-saving ideas and changes to the home, school and community that are undeniably desirably once introduced and nonthreatening coming from public schools and children.

It's called The Permaculture Student, and though it's still being illustrated you can check out excerpts here:
https://www.facebook.com/ThePermacultureStudent

It's also going to be viewed and approved by Geoff Lawton & Elaine Ingham, once complete. There will be a Kickstarter hopefully before the end of the year.

 
Brian Klock
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Matt,
Already have seen your project and am looking forward to the Kickstarter and the product. I don't know if I will ever be teaching children. My wife and I often joke that I have an allergy to children. Maybe with age, I am becoming more patient, as I am finding that I am able to tolerate them in small doses.

I do have small private school very near to our home, and have thought of contacting them, with the thought of helping to start a garden project.

I'm assuming that you'll post a link to your Kickstarter on Facebook. I'll keep a look out for it.
 
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Location: Phoenix, AZ (9b)
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I think leading by example can be very non-confrontational (depending on how you do it) and openly sharing stuff is great too.

You don't say what kind of community you live in - rural, suburban, urban... Here in the city, I've done tons of stuff to invite people to interact with me and what I'm doing. Some things are - seed give aways (always HUGE), posting signs on the front gate that my urban yard is a Certified Wildlife Habitat and that I host water harvesting workshops, hosting the workshops and inviting neighbors to participate or just come by to observe, giving away or selling produce/eggs, planting a nectary alongside the sidewalk (I've had people who homeschool tell me they purposely pass my yard to watch bugs and birds), host "tea with hens", etc. I'm also a member of my neighborhood's Nextdoor.com account and we are able to list events there - like the upcoming Tour de Coops.

All this gets people really interested. There are probably close to a dozen people who now keep chickens in my hood and at least one keeps goats. Many people grow vegetable gardens and citrus trees. More and more people are choosing to remove their lawns and some are even putting in water harvesting features.

I would say making things fun, inviting people to see what you're up to, labeling plants, giving stuff away - all of this gets people interested.

 
Posts: 34
Location: Chesapeake Beach, MD Zone 7b
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I have found through experience that talking about Permaculture without much context can be an uphill battle.

Like Jennifer says, attracting others with your works might be the easiest entry point to 'teaching' someone about Permaculture. I would advise against using their project as a context unless they specifically ask for ideas.

Subtlety is king.
 
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Hello Brian:

Some good thinking comments. Thank you. First of all the image and response to the word permaculture. It was like that in Australia once. Gradually we stuck with the name out of respect to Bill and David, and now its asked for, in schools, colleges, universities and course are taught all over Australia. In development work, the UN suggests it is the best approach for the world's poorest rural people. So don't give up or give in.

With respect to teaching....every teacher has to model permaculture because it is all about buffering climate change and reduces our burden on the world and I'd say most of us believe our quality of life improves immediately.

About my book, I realised quite soon that Bill Mollison's Manual was the most important addition to public knowledge. However many people found it inaccessible so I decided to write a stand-alone book which everyone could use easily. So it's really for those who want to get a good grasp of the topic without too much strain. Also I defined to myself which a good permaculture graduate would look like to the world and other graduates and decided to set up a number of skills that would give good outcomes.

So once I was sure I was competent in the content, I focussed nearly 100% on student outcomes. In this I think I differ from many other teachers. Most are still discussing what should be included. I know what information and skills get to competence. So then I went back to Permaculture I and II then Bill's Manual and then David's book "Pathways to Sustainability" and checked all my information is correct and in line with their content. I felt this was ethical.

Also I innovated in telling my students if they didn't arrive at the permaculture Outcomes by the end of a course they could have their money back. And I gave my ethics for teaching and again if they weren't satisfied I would refund.

So my books, the Earth User's Guide to Permaculture and Guide to Teaching Permaculture.....both are directed towards evidence based knowledge, design skills and student outcomes. This means I need a way to monitor if they are getting them. That's another story.

The Guide to Teaching Permaculture which came out this year, has a huge amount of new information, and I spent months ensuring there is congruity between content, learning objectives and methods.

This has been a different approach.

Also I practice and think permaculture in most aspects of my life eg. buy a bar of soap....and larger decisions.
 
Rosemary Morrow
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Hello Matt, Jennifer and Brian: Ive done very little permaculture teaching with children because I am convinced the adults must first do it and know it and we don't have 20 years to wait until children grow up. However Carolyn Nuttall and Janet Millington's book Outdoor Classrooms is widely consulted and used. They both feel permaculture could be the syllabus. Carolyn tried this for two years with dynamic results.

So far as children are concerned....all scouts/guides in East Timor do a ten day course. All teachers of government schools in Malawi did a course. Primary and many secondary schools in Australia have gardens. Government support backyard growing to use resources such as green waste. However I also think they need to add topics like Ethical Money and Disaster Planning through permaculture.

Recently Lis Bastian, a Al Gore top presenter and I opened the Blue Mountains Permaculture Institute to focus on balancing both Care of the Earth and Care of People as a seamless integrated whole. We are mentally chewing on how to bring in the Third Ethic so the whole course is one whole. The Institute hones in on Non-formal education and the latest trends and ideas. So as the world seems to go for greater control over access, standards, content, etc we support those working to bring permaculture to a wider audience. Again we work on the idea of Right to Know useful information to improve our lives. There's much evidence that adults learn better this way as well.

So, for example, in Cambodia, I heard of a doctor who read my book and developed his whole garden. I was amazed and went to see it. It was working well. This was the goal of the book. Whereas the teacher's book is to assist those who feel overwhelmed by the amount of information. There are probably about forty topics and they have have to be brought together. The Teacher's Book gives all this and what is the most important to teach.

About local information....this is what makes designs succeed. In Barcelona, the last hour of every day is spent on Urban Permaculture and in particular Barcelona. This is one way to localise a course.

We could talk forever......

Thank you
 
Brian Klock
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Rosemary,
Thank You for all of the great info, both here and in other posts. I'll definitely put your books on my wish list.
 
Rosemary Morrow
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Hello Brian: Lovely to know you've joined in the conversation. We need many types of teachers. As you know my joy is teaching adults however each person has a preference for classes.....some chose demographics such as Urban, and other Rural. And not everyone has to teach PDCs. For example, there are jobs with councils, with community gardens and with schools.

Often this is interpretive teaching with groups. It is just as important. In fact permaculture is often seen as 'the cream on the cake" for another vocation. eg. ecologists who add permaculture and so they integrate it and all of them are teaching in different ways.

There's a place for you. My experience is that you need to start quickly after finishing your course. When people wait too long they lose impetus. Do you know a teacher who will help/encourage you to teach a few units on their course. This type of mentoring works very well

Give it a go Brian.

warmly

Rosemary
 
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