[permaculture] Musings III

Toby Hemenway toby at patternliteracy.com
Wed Jan 22 15:10:16 EST 2014


This is excellent. Thank you for putting it together.

Have you posted this anywhere that is publicly available, on FaceBook or on a blog or website? If not, I encourage you to, and I would like to link to it and direct people to it. I think it needs to be shared widely. I'm posting this on LL's list and I hope you will respond here so that more of us can get a link to it.


On Jan 21, 2014, at 11:43 AM, Scott Pittman wrote:

> Musings III
> This final chapter has been postponed over and over as I have made my way to
> Costa Rica, taught a teacher training course, and now headed to Finca Amrta
> to teach my 7th annual PDC.  Cuba has faded somewhat from my mind over the
> past weeks but the subject of my discussion remains clear and the urgency I
> felt in Cuba is still with me.
> This discussion was titled "Standards and Practices of Permaculture" and it
> drew a large audience of participants. 
> My stimulus for this subject was an event that just prior to the IPC I saw
> two courses advertised on the net that were 7 day PDC's.  I was really
> shocked since within the Permaculture Institute we have been discussing
> increasing the PDC to 21 days just so we could adequately cover all the
> material.  I find it very difficult to present all the materials in the
> curriculum and do the design exercises, some hands on, some pattern and
> principal exercises and etc in the two week time frame of a standard PDC.  I
> talked to the teachers of this course and they insisted that they were going
> to go ahead with the 7 day schedule.
> ]
> I met one of the teachers in Cuba who is a Portuguese student named Helder
> Valente and he has started a web site called New School Permaculture.
> Helder insisted that their was a new wave of permaculturalists who were
> changing the rules and one of those rule changes regarded the PDC.
> The PDC is everyone's initiation into permaculture and I have always felt
> particularly protective of  that portal to permaculture.  It is also the
> course that many newcomers to permaculture seem to want to amend.  I have
> seen the course length shrink from three weeks to two weeks to 9 days to 7
> days over the past 30 years.  Content of the PDC is contained in the course
> outline that I received from Bill Mollison when I took the course in 1985.
> According to David Holmgrin the curriculum was "officially" established in
> 1984 at the IPC and at the same Mollison announced the establishment of a
> Diploma program.
> During the Cuba Workshop I was amazed to hear from a gentlemen in the
> audience that he had received his PDC without any of the standard curriculum
> but a course just on the "Invisible Structures" (social, financial, and
> legal structures).  No agriculture, forests, water, and etc.  He was shocked
> when I commented that he didn't receive a PDC but rather a very truncated
> specialty course.  Others in the audience were as shocked as I was.
> We provide a copy of the Course Outline on our website www.permaculture.org
> which most teachers that I respect adhere to in their PDC courses.  The PDC
> that we offer also includes a design exercise, hands on work, class
> exercises, and a talent show.  All of the elements were offered by Bill
> Mollison in the courses he taught in the 90's when I was travelling and
> co-teaching with him.  I continue to teach in this format which I think
> contains the radical pedagogy that Bill developed over years of teaching
> experience.
> I think that the idea that one can use "Permaculture - A Designer's Manual"
> as the complete curriculum of a PDC is a definite downgrading of the
> material originally contained in a PDC.  I know that many of the newer
> teachers follow "the book" chapter by chapter as the course outline but in
> my mind it is an incomplete curriculum and doesn't do justice to the PDC
> course material.  Of course there has been additional material added to the
> curriculum of 1984 ie global warming, energy decline, keyline, food forests,
> and other critical subjects that have appeared in the intervening years.
> I also still offer the course at cost for any certificate holder from
> previous PDC's.  This was a tradition followed by Bill Mollison in his
> courses and it makes total sense to me that additional training under
> different instructors creates better teachers and designers.
> There have been challenges to this tradition which I think is a big mistake.
> If one has room in the class and if the expenses of meals, and accommodation
> are covered by those wanting to audit the course then I see no good reason
> to not offer the course to previous graduates without tuition.
> The Permaculture Institute has developed a Diploma program also available on
> our website to further the education and development of permaculture
> designers and teachers.  Our criteria for teachers is that they first obtain
> their diploma before becoming lead teachers in a PDC.  We also ask that PC
> designers obtain a diploma before advertising their design services.  Many
> teachers follow Bill's admonition  to immediately go out and teach or design
> once completing the PDC; time after time I have seen shoddy courses and
> designs from woefully inexperienced teachers and designers.  This may have
> been a growth strategy when permaculture was just starting but it only
> serves to degrade people's opinion of permaculture when they experience
> amateur work.  In spite of this there are still teachers who encourage their
> students to fake professionalism after a two week experience.  Bill
> Mollison, Geoff Lawton,  Vladislav Davidzon, and Helder Valente are
> advocates of encouraging students to go out and teach immediately after
> receiving a certificate and with this promise of an "instant" career have
> successfully filled their classes.
> Vladislav has recently initiated a "free" PDC online which he claims to have
> over 70,000 students enrolled.  If you want a certificate from this "free"
> course you have to pony up an additional $300+ dollars.  Soon we will be
> awash in PDC graduates who are minimally qualified encouraging their
> students to go out and teach.  To me this is a serious degradation of
> permaculture education and akin to a pyramid sales scheme.
> There are several organizations internationally who are trying to develop
> and establish permaculture standards and practices and my hope that that
> through collaboration we can all develop a unified system that will allow us
> to recognize each others programs and certifications.  There is certainly a
> lot to do and, in my mind, little time to do it!
> "To change something build a new model that makes the existing model
> obsolete"  Buckminster Fuller
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