Pedagogy: How Do We Learn?

Davie Philip
Davie Philip

Pedagogy |noun

The method and practice of teaching.

The science and art of education. Its aims range from the full development of the human being to skills acquisition.

Problem Based Learning & Place Based Learning

Davie Philip has a background in designing and delivering education using active learning methodologies.

The needs and expectations of society, communities and citizens are changing very rapidly. Therefore formal and non-formal education providers need to create and implement innovative projects and methodologies.

Continue reading “Pedagogy: How Do We Learn?”

Core Curriculum Survey Results 2013

A Process Explanation and Results Exploration, by Peter Cow (May 2014)

This Survey was carried out in March 2013, at the EPT meeting in Vale da Lama, Portugal. Its aim was to identify what PDC subjects people considered important and core to a PDC, and which were less crucial.

This work was inspired by a similar survey carried out online in the UK in 2011/2012, which has led to a UK core curriculum for PDCs that are certified by the PAB.

Curriculum topics for the survey were gathered from the original UK online survey, with additions from the Slovenia meeting. Blank spaces were left at the end of the survey for more topics to be added as well during the survey itself by survey participants.

A large grid listing each topic was drawn up on a roll of paper with spaces alongside to add ticks to indicate how important participants think each topics is.

C&C_monster survey

This grid was introduced to people at the start of the meeting, and then stuck onto the wall next to the main meeting room in Vale da Lama, so all participants passed it many times a day.

During the meeting at least 42 people filled in the survey, and the results were typed up into a raw data spreadsheet (EPT Curricula Survey Raw Data) and later a spreadsheet was created displaying the topics in order of considered importance, from highest to lowest (Curricula survey).

We also compared it side by side with the results from the UK survey (EPT and UK curriculum survey results).

Results digest –

Top of the list came design tools, ethics, principles and the design exercise.

Then came more design tools and principles, alongside some application areas and some techniques.

Prioritised areas for appying permaculture included:

  • Zone 00
  • Zone 1
  • Water
  • Waste management
  • Energy
  • Zone 5
  • Appropriate technologies

 Prioritised techniques to be taught included:

  • Composting

  • Mulching

  • Water retention in the landscape

  • Rainwater harvesting/management

  • Active listening/thinking

UK Core Curriculum document – View the current UK core curriculum, which all teachers must teach on a PDC if they give out Permaculture Association (Britain) certificates.

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).

Teaching theory: Accelerated learning

IMG_20140603_130151-webThe accelerated learning approachis based on the observation that a holistic learner involvement enhances learning. This means that not just the intellect but the whole person and body are envolved. More precisely, this means not just the survivalist auto-run part of the brain but also the mid part responsible for feelings, emotions and memory as well as the neocortex part, which is connected to thinking, planning and creativity are activated altogether.

Therefore collaboration and interaction amongst learners greatly enhances learning. Continue reading “Teaching theory: Accelerated learning”

Learning Theory

Learning is the process whereby knowledge is created picture2-learning-theorythrough the transformation of  experience.“ (David A. Kolb)

David A. Kolb states in the context of his experiential learning theory that learning is best conceived as a continuous process that is grounded in experience rather than in terms of outcomes.
Contemporary learning theories state that experience and reflection play an important role in the development of ideas and skills. Reinforcement and practice are the two ways to encourage that. Social interaction encourages learning as well. Continue reading “Learning Theory”

Permaculture Design Process – 6. Placement & integration

by Aranya


Now we’ll get down to experimenting with where the different elements & systems
in your design might be best placed. If you already have a fixed point of focus on
the site (such as a house), then you’ll be aiming to place everything most efficiently
in relation to that. Most designs you do will have to work around this constraint. Continue reading “Permaculture Design Process – 6. Placement & integration”

Widening Participation – Refugees

In this session, we reflected on the growing group of refugees coming to Europe as a possible target group for permaculture activities.

 Why are refugees important?
Refugees are a growing group due to ecological, social, political issues and climate change.

  • The western ‘dream’ is causing instability and refugees’ instability in southern countries and as consequence many refugees come to Europe.
  • Many refugees come from rural areas to cities as part of global land flight and urbanisation, which leads to rural de-population.

There are two groups of refugees:

  • Political immigrants from war zones and religious and gender conflicts. They have less opportunities to return, but in hope of getting official status.
  • Economic refugees, often not recognised, so that they are more invisible in in the society. Many of them are illegal and/or homeless.

Continue reading “Widening Participation – Refugees”

Widening Participation – Course Formats

When designing a Permaculture course we have to consider many aspects, one of the most crucial being “Widening Participation”.

The main consideration is our target market. Different target groups will require a differently formatted course. Mentally and physically challenged students may need different approaches and the use of different pedagogies. People also learn in different ways, some prefer self-directed learning, others need a  driven group.

The constraints of money, time and availability are other points for consideration. There is a need to tailor courses for the needs of the potential participants. For example weekend courses are ideal for time constrained situations, or courses offered for local teachers to keep the cost down.

Continue reading “Widening Participation – Course Formats”

Widening Participation – Permaculture for Disabled

People Care is one of the ground pillars for Permaculture and we aim to reach out to everybody in society. A survery among Permaculture teachers in Europe revealed that disabled people are currently not involved or participating in courses. So how do we reach out to them?

One way is to approach them personally, but to do so we have to find people. A good way for finding disabled people is establishing cooperation with the social office at local councils. This would include explaining Permaculture even to social workers so they understand how the target group will benefit. Knowing peoples’ names and addresses enables us to send a personal invitation to an event, a course or a workshop.

Another way for waking interest could be organising events (with food, music and PC info/ workshop) that are advertised in media. In the ad it should to be pointed out that the event is wheelchair friendly, for example.

Continue reading “Widening Participation – Permaculture for Disabled”

Widening Participation – “Suit and Tie”

The session started with some words from Leo Bakx about his strategy on how to get wealthy people inspired by Permaculture. The conversation continued with Steve Hart, Mihaela (Mischa) Tsarchinska, Martin Giannini, Tanja Korvenmaa, Antonio Scotti, Sarah Daum and Pontus Dowchan.

Why is it important to bring Permaculture awareness to wealthy people?
The access to world’s natural resources is in the hands of a small number of wealthy people and organisations. At the moment the trend amongst permaculturalists seems to be to disregard this “upper class”, though the solutions and the philosophy of Permaculture could have a huge impact when connected with the potential to change large scale structures.

Continue reading “Widening Participation – “Suit and Tie””

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”

Permaculture Design Process – 5. Choosing systems & elements

by Aranya


So having identified the key functions that we are going to design for, we are now
going to think about the best ways to fulfil them. Ideally, we only include
something (a system or element) in our design if it fulfils at least three functions.
Remember the ecological principle: Multiple functions for each element. Nature
happens to be so productive, because everything performs many functions.

The process

Taking each of your chosen functions in turn, write down all the ways you can
think of to (realistically) achieve them. Obviously disregard anything that is clearly
way beyond budget, or an inappropriate scale (too big or small) for the purpose.
When you are done you should have three or four lists, one for each function.

You will probably find that some of the things you thought of are on several of
your lists. Go through them again and see which other of the systems and elements
you thought of also perform any of the other functions. This identifies some
strong possibilities, though you will still have to make sure that they are suited to
the site conditions and other client requirements (do they fit in with the client’s
values?) before deciding upon including them in your design.

Continue reading “Permaculture Design Process – 5. Choosing systems & elements”

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.

Continue reading “Kolb’s Learning Styles Model”

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