[permaculture] Re: permaculture in schools

Pacific Edge Permaculture + Media pacedge at magna.com.au
Thu Jul 4 21:53:35 EDT 2002


Hello Dana...
We have not worked with permaculture in schools for some years now. In 1995
we did a workshop with New Zealander Robina McCurdy - Robina did most of the
development work on permaculture in schools that was passed on to Australian
permaculture people who then went out and started to do something  - people
like Sally Ramsden who went on tour with her own workshops later.

I think that you might be able  to adapt some of the participatory
techniques used by people in the aid industry and known as Participatory
Appraisal or Participatory Rural appraisal to use in schools... they would
need adaptation, though.

Many permaculture in schools projects stemmed from a single enthusuiastic
teacher  who started a vegetable garden and many were not thoroughly
integrated into curricula, so they faded when the teacher moved on.
Integration with curricula is critical, so having someone on the team who
understands the different curricula is important. The environmental
education curricula (if you have them) offers opportunity.

Points from Fiona Campbell's and my experience:

1. Integration of school-based permaculture activity with curricula is
critical to sustainabity of the activity

2. Teachers expect to be handed the programme ready-to-go and most are
reluctant to participate in its development to any great extent; they
believe that they are too busy and under great stress to do their existing
job - no doubt they are but in this they are no worse off than most working
people

3. The perception of busyness and an over-full existing curriculum may be
the basis of resistance to adopting any further activities, including
permaculture in schools activities

4. The potential for litigation over schoolground mishaps places a further
brake on permaculture activities in schools; risk management assessment
could be useful in proposing permaculture activity

5. For permaculture in school activities to be sustainable, the presence of
the permaculture instructor is needed for some time (at least a year) to
establish a presence for the activity and to train teachers in the use of
the facility and its links with curricula

6. Beware of exploitative schools where headteachers grab any activity they
think useful, especially is someone is ready to do the work of introducing
it; such schools are unlikely to continue the activity after the
permaculture trainer moves on - they simply move on the the next best thing
on offer

7. I don't now about the US, but in reaction to child abuse cases in
Australia it is possible that some schools may ask non-staff permaculture
people to fill out a form for clearance by legal authorities ensuring the
school that the person has not been implicated in child molestation or
abuse, has not been charged by police or brought before the courts on such
offences; adult evening colleges in NSW now ask their instructors to fill
out the relevant form they supply for clearance to work with children

References:
Children's Participation; Hart RA, 1997; Earthscan Publications, UK.

A Children's Food Forest-an outdoor classroom; 1996, Nuttall Carolyn; FeFL
Books, Brisbane, Australia (an ex-teacher who introduced permaculture into a
school and integrated it into the curriculum)

Listening to Nature; Cornell J, 1987: Dawn Publications, USA, Exley
Publications, UK.

Sharing the Joy of Nature: Cornell J,1989: Dawn Publications, USA.

Sharing Nature With Chidren; Cornell J,1979; Dawn Publications, USA.

I would suggest that you contact Morag Gable and Evan Raymond at Crystal
Waters village (see address above) as they have done similar work and have
contact with the Learning Through Landscapes organisation that has useful
materials. 

...Russ Grayson, Sydney, Australia
.....................


> From: dlhelfer at ucdavis.edu
> Date: Thu, 4 Jul 2002 07:54:00 -0700 (PDT)
> To: pacedge at magna.com.au
> Subject: permaculture in schools
> 
> 
> Hello,
> 
> I located an old posting on line in which you indicated that you work with
> schools in Australia doing whole site permaculture. I am a graduate
> student in California and am interested in learning more about the
> design/community process that you use and how the teachers integrated the
> process into curriculum. Additionally, I am trying to find places in the
> US that might be doing something similar - moving beyond school gardens.
> 
> Any assitance you could provide would be wonderful.
> 
> Sincerly, 
> Dana Helfer
> dlhelfer at ucdavis.edu
> 




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