Jen Mendez

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since Apr 06, 2014
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Recent posts by Jen Mendez

Calling anyone and everyone who would like to inspire children in your life – yours, your students, other children in your community – to take part in the 2014 Cardboard Challenge.

Let children design and build anything they want with cardboard or any recyclable materials. Fun and creativity is the name of the game! Maybe it's actually a game, like Caine, a nine-year-old boy who was inspired to do when he designed an entire cardboard arcade business. Perhaps it's an artistic, biodegradable herb spiral. Or, it might be as simple as a life-size composting scarecrow. The only limit is the creativity of the designer!

Learn more and join in the fun at http://www.permiekids.com/cardboard-challenge/

Why Take the Cardboard Challenge?

The Cardboard Challenge stems from the inspiring story of Caine's Archade (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=faIFNkdq96U). Now it is an annual GLOBAL event presented by Imagination Foundation (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ul9c-4dX4Hk). In September, kids of all ages all over the world are invited to design and build anything they can dream up using cardboard, recycled materials, and imagination. Then, on Saturday, October 11th communities are brought together the share and perhaps play one another's designs. Well, what if we not only did so with our local communities, but also our international, online permaculture community?

This is a wonderful opportunity for children to play, learn, and use simple materials (resources) in new and creative ways to design and build what they can imagine. Children will be able to:

Pursue their passions
Engage in critical thinking
Collaborate with others (potential inter-generational community building)
Practice planning, building, deconstructing, revising, and ultimately resilient behavior to adapt and overcome challenges
Innovate and test the limits of design
Unite communities... and we can show our children we support such creativity
6 years ago
Let's Inspire Our Young Designers to Test the "Limits" of Creativity!

Calling anyone and everyone who would like to inspire children in your life – yours, your students, other children in your community – to take part in the 2014 Cardboard Challenge.

Let children design and build anything they want with cardboard or any recyclable materials. Fun and creativity is the name of the game! Maybe it's actually a game, like Caine, a nine-year-old boy who was inspired to do when he designed an entire cardboard arcade business. Perhaps it's an artistic, biodegradable spin on a composting herb spiral. Or, it might be as simple as a life-size composting scarecrow. The only limit is the creativity of the designer!

Learn more and join in the fun at http://www.permiekids.com/cardboard-challenge/

Why Take the Cardboard Challenge?

The Cardboard Challenge stems from the inspiring story of Caine's Archade (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=faIFNkdq96U). Now it is an annual GLOBAL event presented by Imagination Foundation (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ul9c-4dX4Hk). In September, kids of all ages all over the world are invited to design and build anything they can dream up using cardboard, recycled materials, and imagination. Then, on Saturday, October 11th communities are brought together the share and perhaps play one another's designs. Well, what if we not only did so with our local communities, but also our international, online permaculture community?

This is a wonderful opportunity for children to play, learn, and use simple materials (resources) in new and creative ways to design and build what they can imagine. Children will be able to:

Pursue their passions
Engage in critical thinking
Collaborate with others (potential inter-generational community building)
Practice planning, building, deconstructing, revising, and ultimately resilient behavior to adapt and overcome challenges
Innovate and test the limits of design
Unite communities... and we, the PERMIE KIDs community, can show our children we support such creativity
6 years ago
I like your take, Dawn and Meryt. I think you would both be interested in and great contributors to the next video collaboration that a bunch of us are doing this Sunday. We will be talking about:

- What is systems thinking and how does it relate to permaculture as an ethical design science?
- How does this relate to education? (re: concepts, subjects, skills, and the individual development process)
- How can we use systems thinking in how we help children navigate their learning landscape and document what children are learning?

There are only a few spots left for this week's Edge Alliance (Google Hangout's call, not mine), but I try to set up one a week on various subjects. Check out http://www.permiekids.com/community-collaboration for more information about this or upcoming Edge Alliances.
6 years ago
I gathered as much from you other posts, Dawn. It seems like you take what I would call a permaculture-approach to unschooling, not just by the activities you do on the homestead, but in how you approach learning and educating in general.
6 years ago

Dawn Hoff wrote:I think it sounds great (can't see how it's different from unschooling though?)

To me the best "curriculum", is living my values - being the change I want to see in the world. The choice - to stay at home with my kids - is limiting growth and consumption (by us having less money) and people care all in one The kids live a life close to nature, in a family that will (eventually) live off the fat (comming - hopefully) of the land. Respecting it, honoring it, that is what they will grow up with - that is what they learn. I don't think we need a curriculum, but any inspiration is very very welcome.



First, I couldn't agree more about not needing yet another curriculum. However, what I think people (adult educators and children) would appreciate, and then feel empowered to try alternative forms of education, is a guiding framework that gives people the design methodology that they can then take and share with their children to then map out their own learning plan. This, for me, is what the PDC is for people wanting to design permaculture landscapes. I posit that it would be helpful to have (and am working to design) this sort of framework and training available to be able to design a truly personalized, holistic educational plan. Along the way, this framework could also share some techniques and tools that can be applied once someone (may start with the adult educator, but ultimately this should be the child) understands how to design from a pattered, systems thinking approach. Again, this is similar to the idea of a PDC instructor talking about techniques like swales, hugelkultur, herb spirals, etc. None of those things are the same as permaculture design, but they are techniques or tools that, depending on the place, time, and purpose of the land may be useful to the designer. So, I think this is what makes what I and folks involved in the PERMIE KIDs' community are doing different than unschooling.

There are, like in many things, a wide spectrum of what "unschooling" means to people. Unschooling is about honoring the learner, but, as some interpret and "do" unschooling, if we just leave children alone in their own thoughts then they aren't optimizing the edges that exist (or could potentially be created). Sure, this is a great benefit to children identifying and following their passions, but how do they learn the process to do this? Some is by modeling, but most children benefit from a framework that empowers them to go through the process and determine what elements are included in the framework. It isn't about telling children what, where, when, why, or even how to learn. It is about taking a framework that for most of us adult learners is automatic and making that thought process visible and accessible for children to use, tweak, deconstruct, re-construct, revise, share, reflect, and probably revise again.

Many parents that I have talked to want to allow freedom to the child, but they don't know how to ask questions and help a child create their own learning map, so much of what is done is disjointed and sporatic, often swinging between extremes because the parent is either forced to (by state requirements) or is coerced (societal expectations and norms) into ensuring their child isn't falling behind. There is also a great number of parents who would like to explore something that is more guided by the child, but they either feel like they don't know how or can't get started, what to expect, how to facilitate learning optimizing the edges, coach their child through not only learning of things but understanding themselves as learners, how to document to satisfy legal requirements, and how to help themselves and their children see the connections between self-discovery and traditional learning objectives (which is important so that a parent can communicate with the educational system they still have to report to in some manner how documenting that a child ran around outside is representative of "learning" in the way the system defines it). A framework and a collaborative community gives people the support to start their own journey in learning and life.
6 years ago
You might find the following resource of interest:

Teaching Primitive Skills to Children: An Instructors’ Manual

To order, send $10 (plus $2 shipping) to: Jeff Gottlieb, 338 Heartwood Way, Whittier, NC 28789.

Jeff has a section in the book about primitive toys and games.
6 years ago
I am blown away by the response.

I think, based on feedback on the thread, folks might be interested in the upcoming Edge Alliance. Essentially, an Edge Alliance is the term we have been using to describe our collaboration via Google Hangout to help one another work through essential questions that we have as educators and learners. The next one is Sunday, July 13th from 12:15-1:00 pm (US EST) and we will be talking about:

- What is systems thinking and how does it relate to permaculture as an ethical design science?
- How does this relate to education? (re: concepts, subjects, skills, and the individual development process)
- How can we use systems thinking in how we plan and document what children are learning?

If you want to join in and collaborate on this or other educational topics in the future, you can find out more at http://www.permiekids.com/community-collaboration
6 years ago
For a list of games and other resources for both kids and educators, such as Living Earth boardgames (Gaia's Garden, Living Landscapes, and One Seed), Permacities an online game, and more check out http://www.permiekids.com/unit-one-resources

Just scroll down to the desired type of resource, in this case games.
6 years ago
A book from that perspective would help diversify the current landscape of history books, but I would suggest we consider taking it one step further. Perhaps it is worth considering the idea that this book already exists and it is the people's stories (oral and written), experiences, and travels, which nowadays includes virtual travel (internet). All this information is available to anyone who is driven to find and learn about it. We just have to re-think what it means to educate and be educated.

So, instead of a book, what about a personalized learning map that guides a learner in a process that simply and honestly presents community practices from a variety of perspectives, including but not limited to "permaculture" or sustainable living, and letting the child work through the approaches and decide for themselves what is the best practice in their life, for their place, for their time? Let each learner write their own "book" as a result and share that surplus of knowledge in whatever form is most meaningful to them. In this way, we potentially end up with hundreds, thousands, or more "books" that enlighten and inspire.

For me, it is more important that my children learn to think critically, analyze, reflect, evaluate, make decisions, and take action in their own life than to come to the conclusion that I (or anyone else for that matter) deem is "best" or "right." This is a different way of thinking about how to inspire new, creative, and evolutionary learning and practices that can transform the future of humanity.
6 years ago
I just wanted to reach out. I'm trying to connect with others who are interested in infusing permaculture ethics and design thinking into learning for young children.

I am a stay-at-home mom who homeschools two young kids, in addition to a permaculture enthusiast and practitioner on my own homestead. Prior to my current place in life, I was a teacher having working with preschool through upper elementary children in public and private schools in the US, as well as overseas. Over the last few years being home with my children, I have come to realize that permaculture design methodology and ethics are critical foundational components to how my children learn, not just what they learn.

For me, the empowerment of what permaculture really does for young children on an individual, family, and community level isn't about teaching them how to do permaculture in the landscape (like designing a PDC for kids or something), but rather inspiring children's natural curiosities and passions and integrating learning and life using the ethical design methodology of permaculture thinking. It is about helping children approach learning in any area and life in general from a playful, solutions-based approach.

I decided about 6 months ago to just start talking about these ideas and to reach out to others who have or are working with young children. As a result, there are now many voices and I'm facilitating and learning with a community of like-minded "educators," which includes parents, teachers, mentors, community organizations, and, notably, the children. This diverse group of educators have stepped forward to take responsibility together to design an educational framework, grounded in permaculture ethics, principles, and methodology. We have started to come together to form a collaborative community and we share, collaborate, and empower one another by returning our surplus of knowledge, ideas, and experiences.

By the way, I say framework because this effort isn't a curriculum. Much of the time, a curriculum is put together for kids, but not for your kid. A curriculum written by someone else fits the people, place, and time of the developer, but this may not a fit for you, your child, your place, or your time. It is sort of like taking a great technique like an herb spiral and including it in every design everywhere. Just as the limits of design in a landscape are based on the creative limits of the designer, so to are the limits of educational design. There is and should be thousands upon thousands of ways to educate young children designed by thousands of "educators." Each voice is valuable and has something to share that we can learn from and incorporate into our own educational design for our children. I try to help the adult educators learn how to use patterned, systems thinking methodology to design an educational plan with their children/students rather than for their children. It is a completely different mindset than that found in traditional education, alternative education, most homeschooling, and even unschooling methodology because it requires people to think of young children as beings with intrinsic worth and to elongate the edges of learning and life. Yet, this framework and approach to education design can be applied to all of those and countless other ways of educating.

Ultimately, what this community does is help each other as educators to learn how to help our children self-empower through the patterned, systems thinking of permaculture. All of a sudden, the light bulb goes on as learning in all subject area becomes integrated into passions and projects initiated by our children. Our children may grow to share a passion with permaculture in the landscape or they may not. They may take permaculture thinking into what would seem to be an unrelated field and transform thinking and lives as a result. In either case, a child can live a life aligned with the ethics and methodology of permaculture and can become more than an individual who can see to his or her own needs, but rather an individual who takes responsibility and becomes self-empowered and self-realized. It is that person (child or adult) who is then in a place where they can not only care for themselves, but others and the Earth.

I should have probably reached out to this community a long time ago, but I have found my way here now and I would just like to ask, "Who else is interested in bringing permaculture design thinking into the lives of young children (approx ages 0-12)?"

In addition to adding to this thread, please don't hesitate to email me directly at jen@permiekids.com.
6 years ago