Permaculture Educators’ Course

Permaculture Educators’ Course participants October 2013

The Permaculture Educators’ Course (Permaculture Teachers’ Training) is held at Friland eco-village in Denmark by Andy Goldring.

It is an 8 day teacher training for permaculture educators. It takes you through learning and teaching theory, a lot of practice on microteach sessions, lots of games, fun, interaction, excursions and how to design and convene courses, how to create your own teacher pathway – and much more.

The timetable below allows you to see the context and flow of topics. Clicking on a topic will open the session plan for this topic in a separate window.  More resources to support the course are available below.

Permaculture Educators’ Course 2013 Timetable

The Scheme of Work for the course is available here.

Training Needs Assessment

Permaculture Course Convenors Guide

Community Building with Playback Theatre

Playback theatre (PT) is a tool to share personal stories that are performed by PT actors. Audience and stage are at the same level and the link between them is the conductor/facilitator who creates a safe/welcoming atmosphere and invites people to share their stories. Main goal of PT is building community but is can be used also with other aims (therapeutical, problem solving, arising conciousness about a particular issue and so forth). On “stage” there are always coloured scarfs and boxes to be used by actors as props and one or two musicians who, as actors, improvise during the performance of the story to complement the main feeling/atmosphere that the group wants to convey.

I think this is a good method in a permacultural frame to give life to people’s stories or feelings referred to their learning process, group experiences and so forth.

Founder of playback theatre explaining what it is in a TED talk

INTRODUCING PLAYBACK THEATRE – March 2014 :This pdf is a summary of what playback theatre is, main objectives and all the elements that are needed.

Continue reading “Community Building with Playback Theatre”

Permaculture Course Formats

During the third of the seven EPT meetings held at Quinta do Vale da Lama in Algarve, Portugal, teachers from all over Europe extensively discussed various course formats for teaching Permaculture to beginners:

There are also advanced training opportunities  for Permaculturalists (who have a PDC):

More about the formats above follow, including some pros and cons:

Introduction to Permaculture

Examples on this site of Introductions to Permaculture

What is “microteaching”?

(…) Invented in the mid-1960s at Stanford University by Dr. Dwight W. Allen, micro-teaching has been used with success for several decades now, as a way to help teachers acquire new skills. (…)

Micro lessons are great opportunities to present sample “snapshots” of what/how you teach and to get some feedback from colleagues about how it was received. It’s a chance to try teaching strategies that the teacher may not use regularly. It’s a good, safe time to experiment with something new and get feedback on technique. (…)

For more information, go to

(excerpt from Wikipedia)

Program of the York Introduction to Permaculture Course

York Introduction to Permaculture Course
17-18 April 2004
Tutor: Andy Goldring

We will start promptly at 10am on both days, please try to arrive around 9.30 so we have time to settle in before we start. Bring food to share for lunch, magazines, books or other materials of interest, and warm clothes as we will be going for a walk on Saturday.


9.30 Arrivals, tea and settle in.
10.0 Opening circle – introductions, welcome, housekeeping, timetable, expectations.
10.30 Permaculture in a nutshell – overview and starting points.
11.0 Break
11.20 Ethics and principles (including a game and small group work)
1.0 Lunch
2.20 Observational walk – ‘everything is a gift’
3.0 Video – ‘In grave danger of falling food’
4.0 Questions and answers
4.30 Thinking piece for evening contemplation – ‘Me, my greatest asset’.
4.45 Closing round

Continue reading “Program of the York Introduction to Permaculture Course”

Exploring the Landscape / Identifying Principles


Teaching Principles with Cards Video
Teaching Principles with Cards Video

Learning outcomes:

By the end of the session the students will be able to:

  • Get familiarized with permaculture principles
  • Find permaculture principles everywhere
  • Give examples of how permaculture principles can be applied in any design

Duration: 30 min

What is needed?

Just a group of permies, yourself and a place to explore. You can also use cards with the principles. If so, you will need at least one card per person.

This activity is one of the easiest ways of teaching principles through active learning. It is perhaps best to be used right after introducing the design principles (Holmgren or Mollison). Everyone is given a card with at least one principle. The whole group is invited to walk around in silence and in their own, and think about the principle, trying to find it represented in nature. After that, the group meets and shares in a round what they have seen. Then they should be given some more minutes to think about how they can apply these principles to a personal design. They can write it down or share it in a round, depending on the time left.

See a video of a similar session given by Rakesh at the Spain meeting.

Danced Massage (an ending or used to change the mood)

Post Massage
Post Massage

Once the group is built, you can invite them to some relaxing activity such as massage.

This one includes some dancing also, so you will need some music and a comfortable place where the students can lie down.

This activity is especially effective when the work has been too focused on the mind.

Split the group in to threes. One of them should lie down, face up, while the other two follow your instructions. Suggest that they start massaging, one to each foot, just moving it gently and softly with the rhythm of nice music. Then the two massagers should move the whole leg, taking care of the knee, not letting it fall or forcing it. Once both legs have been ‘danced’, the massagers should softly leave the leg on the ground and move to the hands. They can do the same with the whole body (arms and head), leaving their mate to rest and recover. When the person on the floor is ready, they can change places with one of the other two in the group and dance again (and repeat).

Choosing Content (and Methods) for an “Introduction to Permaculture” Course

Joel Rosenberg presenting
Joel Rosenberg presenting

In this article I offer a “junior teacher’s” perspective to selecting content and methods for a two day introductory course. I also asked Graham Bell, one of the most experienced permaculture teachers, his take on designing a full Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) course.

See a separate article with timetable, core curriculum and Graham Bell’s thoughts, here.

I see the intro as a taster, as a way to get people together and get inspired to learn more. The content for an Intro isn’t “regulated” whereas the curriculum of a PDC is based on Bill Mollison’s book Permaculture – A Designer’s Manual.

Continue reading “Choosing Content (and Methods) for an “Introduction to Permaculture” Course”

Teacher Resources: Course Checklist and Participant Questionnaire

A prepared teacher is a happy teacher
A prepared teacher is a happy teacher

Teachers, designing and preparing a course, may find these resources helpful:

Andy Goldring, UK, shares a Checklist for things to prepare / think about for a course (download the PDF), including:

  • Audio / Visual / IT
  • Library & Information
  • Materials & Resources
  • Venue Checklist
  • Personal Stuff
  • Course-Specific
  • Convenor Job Description

Cultivate in Ireland issue a questionnaire (or ‘Training Needs Assessment‘) to participants in order to help facilitate and provide for their needs.  Download the Word doc that has a protected form.  Go to Tools / Unprotect to make it your own.   Protect it again as a ‘form’ so that  your participants only add data.

Kolb’s Learning Styles Model

Permaculture students come from all walks of life and everyone has their own way of receiving and processing the new information, skills and ideas. On Rosemary Morrow’s teacher training courses an essential part of the content is familiarising with Kolb’s  Experiential Learning Theory and the four different styles of how people learn that he’s identified.

Kolb proposed that learning is a combination of both how we approach a task and how we respond to and assimilate the experience. In approaching a task (processing) we have a preference for either doing or watching, and in responding to the experience we have a preference for either feeling or thinking. The combination of these preferences creates four main learning styles.

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Ecology Basics

Session Length: 90 min
Learning objectives:
By the end of the session, participants will be able to:

  • Say what Ecology means, how it differs from other fields, and understand their and human role in it.
  • Describe Main Principles of Ecology with examples for human design
  • Explain in more detail 3 of ecological processes
  • Draw a typical cycle of materials
  • Draw different producers and consumers and decomposers in the Trophic PyramidUnderstand the importance of webs, networks, relationships and cooperation in Ecosystems
  • Explain the S-curve graph in terms of time, diversity, stability, succession
  • Consider the task of pc designers to create a cultivated ecology.

Resources needed
Posters of cycles, paper and colourful pens, poster of S-curve, poster of some ecological principles, safety pins, big red round cushion.

Session Plan
For details on how to run this session please download the following pdf:  Session Plan Ecology Basics Kirsty Heron-1


Session length: 90 minutes
Learning outcomes

By the end of the session, participants will be able to:

  • read landscapes and point out microclimates
  • map microclimates in a house or garden
  • describe how to modify extremes of climate
  • know how to make the most of exisitng microclimates in design
  • consider strategies for small and large landscapes
  • do a microclimate study

Posters, big paper and pens, flipcharts with drawings on, handout microclimate study copies 1 per pair

Session plan
Please download the following pdf for details on how to run this session SessionPlan Microclimates Kirsty Heron-1

Zone 4

Session length 90 min.
Learning outcomes
By the end of the session, participants will be able to

  • list all the harvestable products from a forest/treesplants
  • understand why it is important to plant back the number of trees we consume in a lifetime- and more!
  • State characteristics of the Zone 4 in terms of structure of plants (and are there any buildings)
  • map where Zone 4 could be located in urban, suburban and rural landscapes
  • describe site considerations, establishment phase and maintenance for Harvest forest

For details on how the session is run, please download the following pdf Session Plan Zone 4 Kirsty Heron-1

Template for Session Plans

Session Plans are needed to structure the time available with students and to become clear about outcomes and activities.

Here find a template that can be used to create a session plan: DOC  |  PDF

To learn more about how to fill in such a template, please refer to the microteach session by Cat: How to Create a Session Plan.

If you have session plans that you would be prepared to share with the EPT-network, please send them to

Session Plan Collection from Andy Goldring


Andy Goldring
Andy Goldring

Andy Goldring, UK Permaculture Association, has shared seven lessons plans:

1. Real Wealth and Wiser Money


  • Explain different forms of exchange that make up a local economy
  • Know that there are economic strategies available to help support and develop  local economies
  • Make links between ‘green economy’ approaches and permaculture.
  • Explain that local self-reliance needs a local economy and vica-versa!

2. Design Overview


  • Explain the design process – the sequence in which it unfolds
  • Use and explain techniques such as zoning, sector analysis, sectional elevation and the PASE sheet
  • Get more information about a wide range of additional tools and methods that can be used.

Continue reading “Session Plan Collection from Andy Goldring”

Session Plan Collection from Monika Frank

Monika Frank, France, has shared some lessons plans:

1. Design Process and Elements of Permaculture Design

A 90 minute session


  1. Know different steps in design cycle / process
  2. Know why it is important to follow a design process and that it is cyclical
  3. Get the idea that permaculture design does not only mean planning a physical site
  4. Get an impression of how a design can be presented

2. A Ballgame 

A Simple Fun Game to be used as Energiser

Continue reading “Session Plan Collection from Monika Frank”

VAK Learning Styles Self-Assessment Questionnaire

Some more interesting material by Aranya, with acknowledgements to Victoria Chislett (see contact info at the end of the article). Enjoy!

VAK Learning Styles Self-Assessment Questionnaire

Circle or tick the answer that most represents how you generally behave.

(It’s best to complete the questionnaire before reading the accompanying explanation.)

1. When I operate new equipment I generally:

1. read the instructions first

2. listen to an explanation from someone who has used it before

3. go ahead and have a go, I can figure it out as I use it

  Continue reading “VAK Learning Styles Self-Assessment Questionnaire”

Participation, motivation & inclusion methods

Here some very interesting material by Aranya. Enjoy!

Training or learning? Modern principles of effective training and development

Focus on learning, not training

As a teacher, you may talk about learning, not training, thus focusing on the person (from the inside out, not the outside in), and offer relevant learning in as many ways as you can.

‘Training’ suggests putting stuff into people, when actually we should be developing people from the inside out so that they achieve their own individual potential, which is linked to what they love and enjoy, what they are most capable of, and strong at doing, rather than what we try to make them be. ‘Learning’ far better expresses this than ‘training’.

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