Permaculture and Modern Education

April Sampson-Kelly askpv at
Wed Aug 5 20:42:54 EDT 1998

why do mention distance learning as frightening?
Do you believe that all people cannot learn without the physical presence of
a teacher?
Most of us learn most of the day without someone else telling us how and
In answer to your models and assessment, there is a lot of disscussion on
these issues
at conferences and convergences? of course there is always more room for
similar discussions,
at the 6th conference there was a brave couple introducing the notion of
self-governed learning,
and it became quickly apparent that there are different learning methods for
the different cultures,
some are not ready to break the barriers if the barriers are new and
establishing social co-hesion.
(as Tshepo, of Africa, pointed out)
How much do you know about permaculture as an ethic and lifestyle?
You may find there a number of 'threats' to teaching in itself.
maybe that would be a good start to your quest.
Did you study patterns and observations in your PDC?
and as for the thousands of permaculture children out there, (permaculture
has been going since the 70's
so we are into second generation now)  they learn by example above all.
    -----Original Message-----
    From: owner-permaculture at
[mailto:owner-permaculture at]On Behalf Of Paul and Sandra
    Sent: Wednesday, 5 August 1998 16:34
    To: Bill Carey - C.U.E.; Permaculture Listserve; Ecopath listserve
    Subject: Permaculture and Modern Education

    (Written from Tokyo by a American from the Puget Lowlands)

    I have been drifting in occupation, from landscaper to teacher.  I have
been eagerly applying my natural history habits to my new personal
wilderness, the modern educational system.  I have some random thoughts and
I would like to get some feedback.

    The twin crucibles that forge social and consequently biological habit
appear to be the family (not necessarily nuclear) and the school.  The
process of education continues, and self-reevaluation is continuous,
particularly under crisis.  But humans tend to seek environments which
support their habitual lifestyle.  If you find nourishment through
consumption you are not going to hang around a bunch of anti-consumerist
grubby handed do it yer selfers.

    Modern school seems to play heavily into a persons relationship to
authority, information and sources of knowlege, the three seem quite
interlinked.  I am using all this vague and eco-psyco language consciously,
because I think that the relationships formed in school are sychronistic
with the relationships persued within our culture.  Modern education is like
a mass ritual which enforces a daily pattern upon millions of emerging
minds.  It creates a context where the values of our way of life are
transfered not only though teaching by primarily through experiential
pattern recognition.

    A midwest corrections commissioner once told me via national radio that
those incarcerated learn primarily that incarceration and all the attendant
abuses of liberty are valid tools of social power.  What are the tools of
social and personal power that are learned not through the curriculum, but
through the actual social power structures of a typical grade school?

    In America there are many movements toward influencing the fundemental
power relationships that make schools what they are.  Emergent curriculum,
Whole Language Education, and other child centered approaches are all
playing with core patterns.  In the international scene the followers of
Frienet are experimenting with education as the starting point of
social/political liberation.  Charter schools, Voucher systems, home
schooling and the frightening concept of 'distance education' are all hewing
pieces from the staid (though not always sober) establishment of the
American public school system.  Simultaneously politicians are pointing to
norm-referenced standardized testing as a yardstick in the international
educational competition (huh?).

    What does permaculture look like in education?  Has anyone seen models?
Has anyone seen site analysis?  Has anyone seen designs?  I have seen a few
examples of salad dressing and installed one ongoing projects myself.  Are
their outreach programs for schools?  What about accessing teacher
trainings?  What about permaculture club along side the Junior Statesmen of
America.  What an amazing microcosm for urban permaculture, a much needed
expansion of a movement which tends to neglect the broad belly of the beast
if favor of a personal rural get away.  Direct seeding is frequently more
efficient then transplanting.  What pedagogy does permaculture education for
adults reflect?  Is this a mature reflection of the permacultural idealism?

    Has permaculture become a comfortable retreat into moral superiority for
those who have difficulty with addressing the transitional nature of change?
What does this reflect in terms of the patterns in permaculture education?

    I sincerely don't know the answer to these questions.  I was just
brainstorming, trying to find the tender tissue that signal opportunities
for growth.  I want to start a dialog on these issues.  I have worked in
landscapes for 10 years, I am an academically trained natural historian and
I have devoured the works of Alexander, Fukuoka, Mollison, Gursheney,
Rodale, Coleman, Yeomans, and many others both applied and theoretical.  Our
of respect for the franchise nature of 'Permaculture', I have never called
myself a 'Permaculture Designer' though I have been teaching what I have
learned for years, and struggling to incorporate what I know into my own
life pattern.  I wonder if our little clan of weed wizards has been too busy
feeling special, and not busy enough interacting with the fundemental social
patterns that daily rebuild our societal norms.  Perhaps in terms of what I
have seen of the permaculture educational philosophy and sense of individual
acheivement we are well within those norms.

    Paul Cereghino
    vagrant in the largest metroplex on earth
    crows at
    Tokyo, Japan

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