What a dream it would be if the classified section of our newspapers were littered with such headlines! As permaculture gains popularity and credibility, it is essential that those who choose the path of teaching strive to improve this craft alongside their knowledge of permaculture itself.
Even though everyone and anyone is capable of teaching permaculture effectively to others, running a successful course still requires a high level of competence and wisdom to be able to communicate it effectively.
In the same way that a doctor needs a good memory and a builder needs to be able to lift heavy things, there is a set of skills (not necessarily credentials) that fit into the “Permaculture Teacher Job Description.”
Below you will find a list of these necessary skills:
- ETHICAL INTEGRITY. It is absolutely essential that a permaculture teacher leads by example and abides by the ethics of permaculture. This can be easily done with the ability to frequently evaluate your own actions and their relationship to Earth Care, People Care and Fair Share. It is not a coincidence that they are so simple that they rhyme. It is said this way as a pattern, a song, for frequent repetition and assessment.
- GOOD LISTENING SKILLS. Listening is at the core of communication. Teaching is a function of communication. Therefore, to be a good teacher you must actively listen to your students. Listening is not only auditory, but also visual and energetic.
- RESPONDING TO FEEDBACK. A good teacher must be able to accept feedback and make changes according to it. It is their own choice how it is processed or used. They must be strong enough to keep their emotions out of a conflict within a course environment, using their feelings as only indicators of a “bigger picture.”
- HIGH LEVEL OF COMMUNICATION ETIQUETTE. Respect is the oil that makes are salads tasty. Promptness, politeness and thoughtfulness are all considered respectful. A good teacher must get along with their students and this means understanding that lapses in communication are a major cause of conflict.
- RESPECTING TIME. This does not exactly mean keeping to a strict schedule. It only means that time itself is valuable/ Effective use of time, especially while you have everyone’s attention, is the key organizational skill desired among permaculture teachers. People’s time should not be wasted, therefore a permaculture course should always strive to be interesting to those involved. The actual amount of minutes something takes up does not matter as much as how deeply the people are engaged in what they are learning.
- PATIENCE. A teacher should never rush a student who is focused on what they are doing. They should also self-regulate and not rush themselves through a lesson. Sometimes, activities require students to move through the material in unison, while other times allow some to accelerate. Good observation skills and patience will help more people learn better.
- FLEXIBLITY AND OPENNESS TO CHANGE. The environment and context of every course is different. Sometimes a teacher may fall into a situation s/he did not expect. It is essential that a permaculture teacher is capable of adapting and using their skills as a designer to navigate all situations.
- PERMACULTURE TEACHERS NEED PRACTICAL EXPERIENCE. This prerequisite needs no explanation. In fact, you are free to decide for yourself how to interpret it. It just needs to be there and diverse. If you are a gardener, build something with cob. If you are a builder, plany a garden. An effective permaculture teacher must have had physical experience practicing permaculture in whatever context allowed. You can’t relay information from a place of inexperience. If you do not have experience in something, it is important that you admit it, and redirect the learning activities into research and discussion format rather than lecturing.
If you meet this criteria, you can begin exploring this path as a permaculture educator. Never forget to negotiate yourself a fair pay. The higher the quality of your work, the higher the pay and vice versa. A fair wage will only allow you to do your work better.