Permaculture Teaching Matters

Text and photos: Krista Klijzing

Hej, my name is Krista Klijzing and I would like to share a bit about my experience at the recently held “Permaculture Teaching Matters” course, 18-26 August 2018, Sösdala Sweden.

The venue, Ankholt, Sösdala Sweden

This PTM course serves as a training course designed to assist PDC holders to become effective and inspiring teachers, and as such, to have a multiplier effect in spreading and sharing permaculture. It is designed by a woman named Rosemary Morrow. Now, I had never heard of this woman, so I did a bit of googling and you tubing, only to find a truly inspiring, compassionate, pragmatic and down-to-earth woman with an IN-credible amount of experience. Suffice to say she’s been around and walks the talk. She currently dedicates her time to travelling alone around the world, mostly to war-torn nations, and offers to learn people -who have otherwise no opportunity to do so- about sustainability and food growing. How is that NOT amazing? What also stood out about her was the fact that in many pictures, she was sitting on the floor with such ease and grace. And this is a woman who is well into her middle age. The reason why that kind of thing strikes me is because I teach whole-body, multi-planar movement (and lots of it, yes, on the floor) on a daily basis, as a way for us people to age dynamically and gracefully.

Back to the course. In total, 12 participants from different parts of the world, came together at the venue: Ankholt, a cooperative farm located in Sösdala, south Sweden. There we were met by the teaching tandem; Alfred Decker & Candela Vargas. I can warmly recommend these people if you ever have the chance to follow a course with them: they are experienced and gifted facilitators, with a huge toolbox to draw from. And not to forget funny! I laughed my hat off J. Anyway, they are also humble people and very well equipped for the task, which was to teach us about facilitation (aka the art of communication). How to make your teaching effective (as in: resulting in appropriate learning outcomes) and lasting (as in: beyond the moment)??

When it came to the content of the course, they really made us think about how to create a learning community, in which trust, confidence and exchange can emerge, whilst respecting each other’s abilities. So basically, how to integrate people care in your teachings? And that both the learning environment (physical setting) and drawing out a course culture/or class code amongst learners (how do we like to treat each other??) are really important to this end. These topics were eye-openers for me.


Our learning environment

Furthermore, we looked at the learner, the teacher, and how does a teacher inhibit and stimulate the learning in others? Next, we discussed the kind of teaching methods one can use (f.e. chalk & talk, Q & A, group work). And how we have a variety of teaching tools to our disposition, ranging from; field trips to objects, to games, to your own body. Only your imagination sets the limit as to how you, as a teacher, can appeal to a broad array of learners. And the take-home message is; how to choose and use your teaching methods and tools appropriately in order to facilitate the learning in others whilst making the teaching as effective as possible?

THEN we got to put all this to practice J. What would a Teacher Training course be, without trying to teach?? On 5 occasions we had to present a micro-teaching; 3 times on your own, 1 co-teaching, and 1 group teaching, presenting permaculture related subjects. So, real hands-on experience; trying out different teaching methods and tools, whilst modelling pleasant behavior, thinking about your body-language and using non- violent communication. Each micro-teaching session would end with a round of feedback, so we also got to train our debriefing & appraisal skills

Now, I would lie if I would say this week was easy-breezy. The days were JAM packed; with learning sessions, AND working on your own micro-teaching, AND finding time to also work on the group assignment AND participating in chores such as washing up and keeping the place tidy.

Washing up and filing buckets was part of our daily activities

But you know, it was perfect. We came there to learn, and to be inspired. And we had fun. And there was an atmosphere of solidarity, we were amongst peers and could find mutual support in one another. New friends and networks were created. It made me think about all the teachers I have had in my life, both in the formal and informal education system, and drawing out which were the ones I enjoyed most and why. And I am definitely also reviewing my own ways of teaching and how to put into practice the things I’ve learnt at the course. No doubt about it, it was a worthwhile & lasting experience!

The Erasmus+ mobility project supported the participation in this course.