My training needs

I evaluated my observations as well as the boundaries and resources analyses with regard to my training needs:

  • lacking experience and training in permaculture, I need to gain more training and experience of permaculture
  • lacking teaching qualification for further education, I need to gain a teaching qualification relevant for my aims
  • not having taught permaculture before, I need to gain teaching experience, from observation, to shadowing, to assisting and team teaching as well as teaching my own courses
  • from my personal experience of underlying fear, lack of confidence and judgements, I wish to focus on how to create safe, participatory, open and joyful learning environments
  • there are very well-established permaculture educational networks and organisations which I can connect with.

Developing permaculture education

As permaculture education is currently well-established and developing in the UK, I would like to join that movement and become involved in its development locally and on a nationwide scale. I would also like to develop specialisms based on my interests and design work. In summary:

  • there are many resources are available for sustainability and environmental education, I would like to gather these resources and develop my own
  • there are many alternative ways of learning around the world and throughout history, for example Waldorf education or nature-awareness, I would like to gather these and develop my own materials
  • there is symbiosis between processes of learning and designing, I would like to explore design processes based on natural and creative learning environments
  • I would like to develop specialisms in design, working collaboratively, community living and forest gardening.

Applying permaculture to learning

I explored the connections between the permaculture design framework and current mainstream models of teaching and learning used in Lifelong Learning Sector education in the UK today:

A variety of teaching and learning strategies are particularly appropriate for permaculture education and in line with the ethics and principles of permaculture. Here are some examples.

Practical activities in and out of the classroom, such as design exercises or soil analyses, offer opportunities to practice and develop skills in real life projects.

Involvement in long-term projects supports purposeful learning, again in complex real life situations.

Focusing on essential questions helps to integrate teaching across disciplines. Identifying recurring principles that tie subjects together helps make teaching more effective and helps students apply what they have learned to the real world.

Taking a hopeful, proactive approach and designing activities that engage students in potential solutions are important when teaching about environmental issues.

Nature-based activities have multiple learning outcomes, including therapeutic ones.

Case studies, speakers and visits to permaculture projects show and provide experience of communities working together.

The garden as the classroom is the ideal learning environment for permaculture education and sustainability education as well as providing opportunities for education through movement, exploration, practical activity and practical skills for life.

Applying permaculture ethics

  • Earth care = the learning environment
  • People care = the learners and the tutors
  • Fair share = inclusion, equality and diversity

or alternatively

  • Fair share = thinking, the head
  • People care = emotions, the heart
  • Earth care = practice, the hands

Applying permaculture principles

Observe and interact

  • asking participants to complete a training needs assessment in relation to permaculture
  • asking participants what they already know about permaculture in a booking form or at the beginning of a course
  • asking participants what they would like to achieve in learning permaculture
  • observing participants while they learn and incorporating the findings in the teaching process and design of the course
  • interviewing participants individually towards the end of a course regarding their next steps in their ‘permaculture further education, training and career’
  • creating a positive learning environment for the participants to interact with each other and learn effectively

Use and value diversity

  • recognising each learner is different and equal
  • recognising different learning styles
  • using a variety of teaching and learning approaches to appeal to all learners

Design from pattern to detail

  • permaculture is a vast subject, so designing the course, teach the main ideas first and then details or real life examples later
  • using mindmaps to show the central topic, then important elements of that central topic, then further out to details
  • in an introductory course, the main ideas are covered and then pointers are given to pursue further

Apply self-regulation and accept feedback

  • having a good course structure with varied activities and breaks appropriate for the course of the day
  • asking for participants’ feedback on the course

Produce no waste

  • facilitate learning effectively by providing real learning opportunities, for example with practical activities, applying knowledge, learners’ taking on the role of the teacher, learners working together and presenting their work, have learners’ create learning materials

Beneficial relationships

  • put the learning in context by connecting the sessions by refering to and reviewing the previous lesson, informing participants of what is coming next as well as pointing out connections to other elements of permaculture
  • facilitating trust-building and communication exercises
  • connecting permaculture education to teaching and learning approaches

Edge effect

  • pointing out the edge between sessions and activities
  • recognising links, learning processes and group dynamics at the beginning and end of sessions, days and programmes
  • recognising learning processes during break time: informal learning opportunities
  • using different teaching and learning activities as well as indoor and outdoor activities

Multi-use and multi-supply

  • every session demonstrates key aspects of permaculture design and participants are made aware of this using different approaches, such as a review activity at the end of each session in which participants are given principle cards randomly and can say if their principle was touched upon and how
  • principles are demonstrated used a variety of learning and teaching approaches

Yield is limited only by the imagination

  • apply to learning outcomes to identify additional learning outcomes, such as creativity, confidence, making new friends and contacts
  • apply to teaching and learning approaches and use alternative approaches such as artistic activities

Work with nature, not against it

  • identifying existing knowledge and experience of the participants and designing activities which have this as a basis, work with and develop this knowledge and experience
  • working with group dynamics
  • being flexible as a teacher

Everyone teaches

  • allowing and guiding participants in leading activities
  • acknowledging all contributions and facilitating participation and input