10 steps to becoming a qualified permaculture teacher, and recommended teacher training programs, from the PWG Faculty.
Teaching permaculture design courses, for money, might seem like a fun and easy way to develop your right livelihood but believe us, months and months of background thought, planning and hard work go into designing and implementing a permaculture design course whether it is online, on the land, or some combination.
In the early years of permaculture when spreading the initial idea was critical, successfully completing a Permaculture Design Course (PDC) allowed you to teach PDCs and distribute certificates straight away. But that practice resulted in a lot of confused students who had spent good money on a PDC, only to discover that the teacher had no hands-on experience and, perhaps worse, no teaching skills whatsoever.
Fortunately, there is a widely agreed-upon system of accountability within the permaculture community, and any PDC teacher worth their salt will easily be able to demonstrate at least the level of experience we are recommending you obtain before teaching your own PDC. It’s really a matter of integrity: there is nothing wrong with offering introductory workshops to your community, and learning by teaching as you move through the early phases of your permaculture journey. But if you want to teach students the big picture of permaculture design, it’s important that you have so much more than just academic knowledge and a couple of years experience under your belt.
Think of it like anything else you might try to master: it doesn’t happen overnight, or even in a year or two. If you were learning an instrument, you’d expect 2-5 years for proficiency, 10 years for any level of mastery. Working with biological and social systems is at least that slow! So, don’t try to rush it. Take your time, work hard, document your learning, and do your future students, and by extension, the Earth, a service by taking time to deeply engage with permaculture, and also to learn what it takes to be a really good teacher.
10 steps to becoming a qualified permaculture teacher:
In many countries, becoming an accredited PDC teacher also involves completing an Applied Permaculture Diploma, a portfolio of applied design work.
Here are the Permaculture Teacher Training courses we recommend, listed in alphabetical order by lead teacher:
Essential Resources for Permaculture Teachers
The magic in teaching
is the questioning mind (JH),
or as Socrates said,
“education is the kindling of a flame
not the filling of a vessel.”
by Jude Hobbs of Cascadia Permaculture
This article comes from the perspective of my guiding the process through which aspiring Permaculture teachers gain the confidence and competence to share Permaculture strategies, principles and processes to a wide variety of audiences in a variety of educational settings: from 2-hour “Introduction to Permaculture” talks at local libraries to full 72+-hour standardized Permaculture Design Courses.
Since 2001 I have taught the Permaculture Teacher Training over thirty times and have not taught it the same way twice. I am continually adjusting my teaching approach to incorporate individual needs, participant feedback and new pedagogical techniques. To me, this is the art of teaching: always growing and changing what I teach and how I offer a course by exploring varied teaching strategies with a primary focus on the active learner via a transformational learning process.
This article offers some ideas on how to effectively share information and empower individuals to discover their own teaching styles, along with some of my personal philosophy about evolving and enlivening the educational experience.
How many of you have felt safe in a classroom setting? Did you trust your teacher —their abilities to guide you with accurate information presented in ways you understood, in ways you found both accessible and inspiring? Did you trust your teacher to not roll their eyes if you gave the wrong answer to a question? Have you experienced an instructor being ethically inappropriate with you or with others? Unfortunately, these scenarios are very common in some educational situations. Cultivating a learning community by setting the tone of a safe environment for the “peer culture” of a classroom is also imperative since many students are as afraid of being embarrassed in front of or by fellow students as in front of or by the teacher.
Co-create a safe learning environment by setting clear intentions.
Write about it. Compose a “Memorandum of Understanding” (MOU).
The morning after our evening course opening, which involves participant introductions, the class reviews a Memorandum of Understanding, which was mailed to everyone pre-course. The MOU provides a common set of intentions on how we plan to interact as a learning community working collectively to support one another.
The MOU focuses on the following:
Talk about it.
We review the MOU as a group with the opportunity to discuss any questions and /or concerns and/or needed additions. During our course introduction we set the tone for people to be comfortable, stating that all questions are honored, inviting people to place anonymous suggestions in a specially designated basket, and employing a variety of techniques to help participants get to know one another.
Additional ways to set the tone and build trust:
Co-create Effective Learning & Learning-to-Teach Environments.
Learning environments are considered “effective” if learner outcomes, individual and collective, are achieved for each module. As an example, in teaching about roof water catchment, will the learner be skilled in sharing the steps in order for participants to design and install this type of whole system? In working together as a class can they achieve this goal in hands-on practice?
Explore multiple pathways for-co-creating effective learning environments:
Finally, how can you tell this is working?
I offer Permaculture Teacher Trainings all over the world. Here's the flyer for my next one:
Why Guide Permaculturists, and Others, to Permaculture Teacher Training?
Permaculture Education as an Extension of Permaculture Principles
As a Permaculture teacher, my goal in guiding others to teach Permaculture is to encourage and inspire them to discover and celebrate their own unique strengths and abilities as educators, and to empower them with the confidence and tools they need to effectively communicate Permaculture principles, inspire change, and transform the way people everywhere value and apply true sustainability practices. As co-creators of the Permaculture Teacher Training learning environment, and through collaborative, dynamic interactions via group projects, participants build a strong social community and form resource networks to support one another and maintain lasting friendships.
I actively support the next generation of Permaculture trainers with the philosophy that sharing meaningful knowledge is regenerative, empowering and part of the Permaculture solution….“kindling (and strengthening) the flame” of Earth Care, People Care and Future Care.
“Jude creates a course that finds the perfect balance between creating a safe comfortable learning environment and a place to push your comfort zone and to grow.”
--J.D., Course participant, 2017
“This course is a living example of Permaculture Design. The design of the course itself, the course location, the learning environment, and the total delivery embody the principles, ethics, and functional application of Permaculture Design for place, people, and evolution. This course has empowered me with the knowledge, strategy, tools, techniques and ability to empower others through teaching.” --C.S. (2016)
“This course is a week-long intensive for Permaculture designers and educators who are interested in honing their craft as teachers/presenters. It has been transformative and valuable beyond measure. Jude has a lot of wisdom and knowledge to share and is great at drawing out our strengths. She helped facilitate learning peer to peer and has helped me grow as a Permaculture designer and educator. Jude herself is an amazing resource, and the bulk of my learning came through her ability to tap into the wisdom of the group and inspire thoughtful reflection.” —T.M. (2018)
“[After this course] I feel like I could put together a weekend Intro to Permaculture course no problem. I gained valuable friends and colleagues here. I also feel stronger, refreshed, more confident in myself, and refocused on my path.” —J.S. (2018)
Jude Hobbs is an internationally recognized Permaculture educator and designer with 35 years’ experience in the design and teaching fields. Her focus is whole systems thinking to generate environmentally sound solutions that inspire sustainable actions in urban and rural settings.
As an educator, she conveys her passion for permaculture by providing curricula developed to encompass diverse learning styles with teaching techniques that are accessible, inspiring and information rich. Jude tends Wilson Creek Gardens, a 7-acre homestead and demonstration site located in Cottage Grove, Oregon, U.S.A.
Listen to Jude's interview on The Permaculture Podcast, describing this course and more:
“What Permaculturists are doing is the
most important activity of any group in the world.”
Subscribe to this blog via email and get fresh articles every week! This does not add you to other lists, but you can opt into those below.
You're good to go!
FREE yearlong permaculture course
Tiny classes delivered to your inbox every week for a year to guide you step by step through designing your ecological life and landscape.
Join the #freepermaculture public discussion group
Writers! Let's Crosspollinate!
We'd love to feature your article here and/or swap guest posts with you.
FREE Permaculture Coloring Book!