Emergent Permaculture Pedagogy?

Is there such a thing as permaculture pedagogy? I’d say it’s emerging as we speak 🙂



First there was the chalk & talk – follow the master’s lead academic pedagogy of people like Bill Mollison and Geoff Lawton. They demonstrate pre-digesting permaculture knowledge and skills. The Permaculture: A Designers Manual and the classic 72-hour Permaculture Design Certificate course are the main vehicles for this approach. It is congruent with most Anglo-Saxon education practices and structures – quite repressive systems where the teacher is boss and the kids are taught by the funnel and sponge paradigm of learning (in my admittedly biased view).


Over the years many permaculture teachers developed their own pedagogy, introducing new ways of motivating learners and designing rich and diverse learning environments – often by intentionally applying permaculture design ethics and principles to the challenge of education.

The Transition Town approach could be qualified as such perhaps, emphasising learning communities, reskilling and the concept of transition itself as vehicles for learning new behavior.

Current efforts to develop permaculture education for children are contributing in a substantial way to a new kind of permaculture pedagogy. The work of Gaye Amus in Finland comes to mind. As do the Leerschool Permacultuur of Irma Abelskamp en de Ponderosa Aardeschool of Mirjam Olsthoorn in the Netherlands. I’m sure you know of inspiring examples in your own region.


Coming from a background of educational reform I’m interested in applying permaculture design to create a new permaculture pedagogy.

For one thing, such a pedagogy will emerge from the manipulation of building blocks. The behavior of systems is not a linear result (sum) of the behavior of its constituent subsystems. As a designer you cannot work from  a desired specified function in a linear way by putting your elements in a row and expect the resulting system to behave in a predictable fashion. Not in nature anyway. You can in an industrial or virtual universe. It’s not the way the real world works.

What a designer of emergent permaculture pedagogy can do is dance with the subsystems to create an awesome and exciting ballet of learning.


So how do we go about this? What are your views?

Can we design a comprehensive system that can compare with other education reform pedagogies like Montessori, Petersen, Boeke, AS Neil and others.