Ninety nine percent of the people who come to take a PDC do so because they are concerned — concerned about the state of their environment, concerned about the state of themselves, concerned about the state of the planet. They want to change something, to take action in response to the growing sense of dysfunctional instability and uncertainty that is defining our age. Permaculture provides a directive to act. What’s more, there is an inherent financial and psychological commitment that accompanies this decision to act. For most it is a moment of hesitation, a time of transition between two worlds — the centralised consumer-driven monoculture of mainstream society and the alternative community-based polyculture on the fringe — an evolution of which the importance can be difficult to truly appreciate, let alone put into effectual practice.
The 72-hour PDC is called an ‘intensive’ for one very good reason — it is intense. 72 hours of concentrated learning over 12 days, forty eight 90-minute minute sessions of pure knowledge and information download. It is a sensitive and emotionally charged learning environment and as a teacher it is important to be clear how you intend to present the extensive and often complex curriculum — for with all the simple ideals that encaptulate Permaculture one thing is for certain, there is no such thing as simplistic Permaculture.
Over the past week of teacher training we have learnt that our sole purpose as teachers is not to ensure every last detail is explicit and understood, but more to inject students with a passion for learning, with the enthusiasm to take the reins of the learning journey into their own hands. The more you learn in this life, the more you realise how much more you need to learn. The path of true knowledge is set out before all of us and it is our purpose as teachers to inspire confidence in this path — the commitment comes from a transfer of passion.
One of the distinguishing features of a successful PDC group is diversity — age, background, ethnicity, occupation. Crossing disciplines and making the connections between demographics is a unique quality that Permaculture invites. It is important to recognise this diversity and to be flexible in our approach as teachers in order to obtain positive results. Diversity is one of the key principles of Permaculture and it should not be limited to the peripheral ecosystem — it must be applied to all areas of our daily lives if we are to achieve balance. In education, the classroom is the heart of accomplishment and diversity should be the central vein. It is not the survival of the fittest, it is the survival of the most connected in diversity — connectivity increases our ability to evolve.
The week was full of insights into the world of the educator. The only indicator that you have of being a good teacher is whether or not you produce good students. It is not so much what you teach, but how you teach it. If you really love teaching then you want your students to be better then you are. You love giving away information. You realise that the biggest thing you can ever own, is what you give away. Be generous, let the information flow. As PDC educators we are translators of a language, leading people through an experience that has the potential to be profoundly transformative, and, if all goes to plan, it will be.
Guided by the experience of Geoff Lawton and Lesley Byrne, the course focused on encouraging the development of our individual teaching styles by pushing the boundaries of our comfort zones, engaging us in a process of self expansion and growth. Teaching is about working on yourself so you can deliver a message to the greatest effect and it is often your alternative self that delivers the best. This process of discovering our own unique style has been one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of the internship to date. It has further advanced confidence in our knowledge and understanding and brought us again closer together as a group.
The crisis facing us in the world today can more often than not seem overwhelming. How can we who are so small make a difference to a problem that is so vast? Where do we start? Well, with education.
The more we can learn and teach about our function as human beings in the natural ecosystem, the more we can begin to understand our relationship with each other and our environment and the closer we will come to implementing real solutions.
In Permaculture, our journey as a teacher is charged with emotion. Our subject is the survival of the planet. Live to learn, learn to teach, teach to inspire.
At time of writing, the PRI’s next PDC Teacher Training Course will begin on November 7, 2011. You can find out more and book here. Later dates, when they’re added, can be found by browsing the main course section.