Tag Archives: education

Episode-1632- Matt Powers on a New Educational Model

permschoolMatt Powers is an author, educator, permaculturist, seed saver, innovator & family guy from California working on creating a new paradigm in education aligned to real life: permaculture + nature + small business while including families and mixed age groups.

Matt is starting a new kind of school: Permaculture Life School. It’s a school focused on real life skills – farming sustainably, running a small business ethically and profitably and enjoying nature as students develop the ability to read the landscape.

He joins us today to discuss the reasons why he is starting this school.  What’s wrong, why we need to change it, how we could change it & how we could do it best to achieve our goals – build with the end in mind.

There is no doubt modern education needs a re tooling.  I feel that Matt’s focus is one of many ways to do just that.  We need a new educational model that leverages 2015s technology.

There are fundamentals of reading, writing, math and science all children should learn, but we should have dozens or even hundreds of choices in a world were we already have over 10,000 options for how we dress up a smart phone in a colorful case.

Resources for today’s show…

Remember to comment, chime in and tell us your thoughts, this podcast is one man’s opinion, not a lecture or sermon. Also please enter our listener appreciation contest and help spread the word about our show. Also remember you can call in your questions and comments to 866-65-THINK (866-658-4465) and you might hear yourself on the air.

Also remember we have an expert council you can address your calls to. If you do this you should email me right after your call at jack at thesurvivalpodcast.com with expert council call in the subject line. In the body of your email tell me that you just called in a question for the council and what number you called in from. I will then give the call priority when I screen calls.

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Episode-1536- Reclaiming Education in Modern Society

It is 2015 folks, how about we act like it?

It is 2015 folks, how about we act like it?

I say it all the time and I will do so again today, do not confuse education with school.  I also though want to do all I can once again to point out that criticism of our educational system is not “teacher bashing”.

If people could get over the false belief that “teachers are heroes”, perhaps we can make some progress on that?  It is difficult to have a logical conversation when people cling to illogical ideals.

That is what is truly needed at this juncture.  An honest look at the problems with modern education and an acceptance of what can and can’t be fixed.  An acceptance that teaching 6 year old children their ABCs is very noble, but it isn’t heroic.

It is a job and if it can be done better and more efficiently by other means, it should be considered and implemented where it works.  I want to come at it academically today, let us for the sake of arguement say the following is true…

  • The current educational system is an A+ for the needs of 10% of our students
  • It gets a B for the needs of 20%
  • It gets a C for the needs of another 20%
  • It gets a D to an F for the other 50%

Frankly GPAs nation wide alone sort of match this but that isn’t what I mean.   I was a “good student” on paper, graduated in the top 15% of my class, with a little real effort I would have been in the top 10 of students overall, easily, but I didn’t give a shit.  Nothing could have changed that in the current system.  I didn’t care because I knew 80% of what I was tested on would never apply to my life.

Now look you might say the average teenager can’t make that determination, but now as a quite successful person in my 40’s, time has proven that I was correct.   Less than 20% of what I learned in high school, is applicable to my current life and career.

So the above numbers are likely kind to the current system.  Plenty of A and B students are bored to tears in school.   Plenty are also bullied, picked on and ridiculed.  All this while eating state provided lunches that are little better than what prisoners get at Federal Prison.  And if you share your lunch with a fellow student that is hungry, you are punished!

I have to say that while I feel the educational system of the 1980s was flawed and largely a waste of my time, it has only gotten worse over the years.  Things that were encouraged when I was a kid like standing up to bullies, sharing food and helping others are now not only not encouraged they are actively punished.

This is not the fault of the teacher, teachers don’t write policies, hell they barely even write a lesson plan now.  Politicians now largely set policy and write curriculum.  They are themselves victims of the same system.  Want a raise in pay, go take another course in education, get your masters etc.  Seriously how much education does one need to effectively teach 2nd grade?

Not that second graders are not a challenge but that is a lot more of a social skill then an academic one.  The good news though to be blunt is solutions abound.

Join Me Today to Discuss…

  • First lets have an honest discussion about the nature of the problem
    • Schools are a one size fits all solution presented to 50 million children
    • Even if we hit a home run for 50%, we fail the other 50%
    • School doesn’t resemble “real life” at all, so lets be honest about that
    • School is now preparing children for jobs that no longer exist
    • Conformity never leads to innovation
    • Formulaic learning doesn’t create self directed learners
    • Teachers do not have control over what they teach
    • Teachers don’t have control over how fast or slow they advance
    • Teachers want parents teaching obedience, not academics
    • They system punishes both creative students and teachers
    • School is seen mostly as state provided day care
  • The solution?  Stop trying to repair 1880s technology!
    • Create cloud based learning
    • Emulate 1850s teacher, student teaching other students
    • Ignore all rules and only comply with laws when you have to
    • Do not engage in emotional arguments
    • Identify the real opportunities in the coming decades
    • Create inter-generational learning communities
    • Focus on actionable knowledge first
    • Allow individuals to select what they learn about “soft knowledge”
    • Stop feeding the beast
    • Create our own certifications and standards bodies
    • Do everything for a low of a price as possible
    • However recognize the truly talented teachers
    • Get on board, because the train is leaving with or without you
    • Accept that education is about learning, not teaching
    • Accept that almost every problem is solved by removing the state

Resources for today’s show…

gojiberryBob Wells Plant of the WeekPhoenix Tears Goji Berry – It is adaptable from zone 5 to zone 9.  Also known as Wolfberry Vine, these sweet and nutritious berries are eaten fresh, juiced or dried like raisins. The berries are a popular medicinal herb. Among the highest in protein and antioxidants, they have more carotene than carrots, and contain all the essential amino acids and many minerals.

Grow this attractive Chinese native on a trellis to more than 10′ tall or trim it as a bush and keep at 4-6′ tall. Light purple, bell shaped flowers bloom in May and continue throughout the summer. The third year and thereafter, flowers are followed by orange-red berries.

The plant is self-fertile, drought resistant, and likes a half to full day of sun and well-drained soil. It prefers warm summer days and cool nights prefers neutral or somewhat alkaline soil.

Our plants are grown from cuttings and a superior cultivar.  Find this plant and more at BobWellsNursery.com – Bob Wells Nursery specializes in anything edible: Fruit trees, Berry Plants, Nut Trees, as well as the hard to find Specialty Trees.

Remember to comment, chime in and tell us your thoughts, this podcast is one man’s opinion, not a lecture or sermon. Also please enter our listener appreciation contest and help spread the word about our show. Also remember you can call in your questions and comments to 866-65-THINK (866-658-4465) and you might hear yourself on the air.

Also remember we have an expert council you can address your calls to. If you do this you should email me right after your call at jack at thesurvivalpodcast.com with expert council call in the subject line. In the body of your email tell me that you just called in a question for the council and what number you called in from. I will then give the call priority when I screen calls.

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The Permaethos Plant Propagation Course is Now Live

The PPC is Now Live at PermaEthos.com

The PPC is Now Live at PermaEthos.com

The long awaited Plant Propagation Course taught by Nick Ferguson is now live.  You can learn more about it at the PermaEthos Website.

We have made a few chapters free so you can get a feel for the course and Nick’s teaching style.  We feel this course will empower many to set up small to even large scale nurseries.

Nick is a passionate teacher with about 20 years of plant propagation experience behind him.  In the course he covers layering, division, grafting, rooting with mist systems and many other ways to produce plants of top quality and unique varieties.

Personally after buying over 500 trees and plants in the last two years I consider the ability to propagate plants akin to printing money.  Even without selling any plants, had I had access to this knowledge in the past I could have produced the majority of those 500 plants for myself at little to no cost.  At an average cost of 20 dollars a plant, that is about 10,000 dollars of plant stock I could have produced for myself.

To learn more about the course visit this link http://learn.permaethos.com/course/plant-propagation/

PS – THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT.  If you pre registered an email just went out with how to get your discount on this course.  PLEASE use the information in that email.  If you didn’t get it email me and I will make sure you do.  You have 30 days to get that discount if you are in the group that preregistered.

If you jump the gun and pay full price we will not go though the administrative hassle to refund the difference.  You have a full 30 days to get the discount so please be patient if it appears that the spam monster ate your email with the code in it.

To email me any questions about signing up, etc. just email jack at thesurvivalpodcast.com and put “plants tspc” in the subject line.

Episode-1503- Of Yaks, Swine and Anarchism

Check out An-Yak.com

Check out An-Yak.com

Nick Hazelton is a 16yr old small time yak and hog farmer. He’s a philosophy enthusiast, and has his own podcast, and occasionally makes appearances on terrestrial radio. He’s a sophomore at a charter school in western Oregon.

Nick joins us today to discuss why young people should get involved in entrepreneurial adventures and learn on their own, outside of school. Self-education and self-employment in youth.  We also discuss the philosophy of anarchism along with how most people largely misunderstand it.

Resources for today’s show…

fig_lsu_purple_smallBob Wells Plant of the WeekL.S.U. PURPLE FIG – The LSU Purple fig is adaptable from zone 7 to zone 9. It is very reliable, prolific producer of early to late delicious figs. One of the best figs to come along for some time. Very acclimated to the fluctuating weather of the South.

Very sweet, does not require a pollinator and best to pick a few days after the fruit turns purple.

Find this plant and more at BobWellsNursery.com Bob Wells Nursery specializes in anything edible: Fruit trees, Berry Plants, Nut Trees, as well as the hard to find Specialty Trees.

Remember to comment, chime in and tell us your thoughts, this podcast is one man’s opinion, not a lecture or sermon. Also please enter our listener appreciation contest and help spread the word about our show. Also remember you can call in your questions and comments to 866-65-THINK (866-658-4465) and you might hear yourself on the air.

Also remember we have an expert council you can address your calls to. If you do this you should email me right after your call at jack at thesurvivalpodcast.com with expert council call in the subject line. In the body of your email tell me that you just called in a question for the council and what number you called in from. I will then give the call priority when I screen calls.

Join the MSB Today

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Want Every Episode of TSP Ever Produced?

Remember in addition to discounts to over 40 vendors who supply stuff you are likely buying anyway, tons of free ebooks and video content, MSB Members also get every edition of The Survival Podcast ever produced in convenient zip files in blocks of 24. More info on the MSB can be found here.

Episode-1480- What Might a Free Market Education System Look Like

Perhaps Not Such a Bad Idea

Perhaps Not Such a Bad Idea

Note – There will be ZERO teacher bashing in this show.   Well zero teacher bashing as a wholesale group anyway, I promise.

Yesterday I pointed out how many problems and divisions in society would not even exist if the state were not involved in key issues.  Once again I dared touch the sacred cow of pubic education.  Once again my inbox is crammed full of hate mail because I am “bashing teachers” when the truth is the word teacher wasn’t even used in yesterday’s show.

Why this reaction?  Because logical and other wise intelligent and sane people become irrational even to the state of temporary insanity when something they see is necessary is called unnecessary.  They may not know why they even believe it to be necessary, they just do and that alone causes at times even a violent response when anyone even infers that they are wrong.

School is important and an education is priceless.  Every child has a fundamental right to an education, everyone knows that right?  There are both truths and inaccuracies in those statements and combined they create what we call a logical fallacy.  What is a logical fallacy?  Logical fallacies are unsubstantiated assertions that are often delivered with a conviction that makes them sound as though they are proven facts.  This is often done by taking true facts and combing them with total fabrication or unsubstantiated conclusions based on some of the actual facts.

In this case “school is important”, well no, education is important, but school is only one form of education.  School is not required for education to even occur.

Every child has a right to an education is another one.  We must first understand that a right as used above means the following…

A moral or legal entitlement to have or obtain something or to act in a certain way.

This means that there is a moral and legal obligation to provide everyone with an education.  Is that actually the case?   I don’t believe it is, not in the way we are led to believe anyway.

This also omits a critical reality, that every right comes with corresponding responsibilities.  Further that the State is to ensure rights primary by not oppressing them or allowing others to oppress them.

For instance your right to free speech comes with responsibility to not say incite violence or yell fire in a crowded theater.  More over, the state isn’t responsible to provide you a venue for your free speech nor to force people to listen to you, only to ensure your rights are not trampled on, nor are they permitted to impede them.  This brings us to yet another fallacy, the “fallacy of omission” which is…

Errors occur because the logician leaves out necessary material in an argument or misdirects others from missing information.

The reality is there are hundreds of fallacies and almost all of them at one point or another could be applied to most things we hold sacred such as public education.

Today I would like to examine what a true free market education system might look like.  Once we do I ask that you use logic and reason to determine for yourself not if such a system would be perfect, only would it be better than what we have.  Every system is flawed, this doesn’t mean a system with flaws can’t be better than a system with even greater flaws.  To assert that a flawed system isn’t a better system simply because it has some flaw, when the underlying system itself has greater flaws, is also a fallacy, can anyone name that fallacy?

Join Me Today to Discuss…

  • Is every child entitled to a good education
  • Does the current system provide a good education to every child
  • Who’s children are they anyway
  • Why teachers are not to blame
  • Why teachers can’t fix the system and why many would not if they could
  • Answering the big but what if style questions…
    • But who decides if an education is valid
    • How would we ensure standards are met or that standards are valid
    • What about children that can’t afford a “good education”
    • Then how would we insure access to education if not provision of education
    • But students with wealthier parents get a better education this way
    • But every other modern nation provides public education
    • But children need school for social skills, to meet other people, etc.
    • This system will create an unfair advantage for many
    • But we have to at least make sure that the average person can read, write and do math
  • Why we must abolish compulsory public education to solve most of our current problems
  • The system I would institute to wean society off the current system
    • No child can be compelled to go to any school ever, the end
    • The state can continue to offer education but not compel attendance
    • A taxes funding education are to be lowered in an evenly apportioned manner as students exit the system
    • Any person or entity may set up any form of education as longs as the activities conducted are other wise legal
    • Any group or entity may set up a standards body, publish its own standards and issue certifications
    • The only state over sight is contract resolution criminal police enforcement
    • The contract resolution component must be voluntary
  • Why a free market system would work better even if it has flaws

Resources for today’s show…

The Red Skin Peach

The Red Skin Peach

Bob Wells Plant of the weekRed Skin Peach –  Adaptable from zone 5-B to zone 9.
This is an off shoot of the old time Elberta Peach. Excellent quality all-purpose yellow freestone. It is frost hardy, disease resistant and very sweet. It does not require a pollinator and ripens early to mid-July. This is Bob Wells personal favorite when it comes to peaches. Find this plant and more at Bob Wells Nursery. Bob Wells Nursery specializes in anything edible: fruit trees, berry plants, nut trees, as well as the hard to find specialty trees. Find them at BobWellsNursery.com

Remember to comment, chime in and tell us your thoughts, this podcast is one man’s opinion, not a lecture or sermon. Also please enter our listener appreciation contest and help spread the word about our show. Also remember you can call in your questions and comments to () and you might hear yourself on the air.

Also remember we have an expert council you can address your calls to. If you do this you should email me right after your call at jack at thesurvivalpodcast.com with expert council call in the subject line. In the body of your email tell me that you just called in a question for the council and what number you called in from. I will then give the call priority when I screen calls.

Join the MSB Today

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Want Every Episode of TSP Ever Produced?

Remember in addition to discounts to over 40 vendors who supply stuff you are likely buying anyway, tons of free ebooks and video content, MSB Members also get every edition of The Survival Podcast ever produced in convenient zip files in blocks of 24. More info on the MSB can be found here.

Episode-1432- Why the Current Generation is “Lost”

Call a Generation Lost and it May Believe You.

Call a Generation Lost and it May Believe You.

You might think that the most difficult questions I get come from older folks who have been around a while, you would be wrong.  The most difficult questions to answer come from young people, asking “what do I do with my life”, in some sort of way.

The current generation (Millennials) and the one coming next (Generation Z) take a lot of flack.  We hear they are lazy, don’t know the value of hard work and never knew a day without a computer.  Really, well, hey Boomers and Gen X on that last one, few of us knew a day without a TV right?  Sometimes we should think before pointing to the “flaws” of others.  I digress though.

The reality is this generation has been born at what should be one of the most exciting times in history.  There is more opportunity today than ever before.  Businesses are easier to start, educations are easier to obtain and new ways of doing things happen every day.  The truth is right now is one of the greatest expansions of entrepreneurship ever seen  on the planet.

Yet many of our young people feel lost.  TSP is about survival and living a better life.  If we don’t preserve families and if we don’t look out for our next generations, who will look out for us when we are old men and women.  What of any value can we leave behind if we don’t leave behind young men and women who value both their past and their futures?

Join Me Today As I Discuss…

  • Why today really is a great time to be alive
  • Why can’t people see how great this time is, what went wrong
  • Why do out children and young adults feel lost
    • They don’t know where they have come from
    • Due to that they don’t know where they are going
    • They don’t have a connection to the earth and innate humanity
    • They believe the hype from both sides of the dichotomy
    • They feel helpless about the hype
    • They are not permitted to fail
    • They are not challenged to excel
    • They are praised for mediocrity and they know it
    • They are presented with a single path to “success”
    • The path is expensive and they know it often doesn’t fit or doesn’t work
    • They are being taught success formulas that are often out dated
    • They see their “parents hell” but are pushed to follow that example
    • They are then blamed for all of the above
    • It is more our fault then theirs and they know it
  • Fixing the problem isn’t really that hard
    • Address the above at least for your family
    • If your family won’t do it, do it for yourself
    • Life really is amazing, just make sure to realize that
    • Take risks, winners fail before they succeed
    • Realize that others will always urge caution to the bold
  • The choice is yours, choose your path wisely and don’t hesitate to change paths

Resources for today’s show…

Bob Wells Plant of the Week – Arbequina Olive – Adaptable from zone 8 to zone 10

Cold hardy variety that has one of the highest olive production and oil yields. The soil should be well drained. Tree has an upright habit. We recommend covering the tree the first winter if the temperature drops below freezing. Once the tree has been in the ground for a year and is well rooted, it then will begin to withstand the colder temperatures.

The older the tree gets the more, cold hardy it becomes. Oil is sweet, delicate and fragrant with intense fruitiness but low levels of bitterness and spiciness. If you live above zone 8, you can grow it in a container and bring it inside during the winter months.  –  Order this Plant at Bob Wells Nursery

Remember to comment, chime in and tell us your thoughts, this podcast is one man’s opinion, not a lecture or sermon. Also please enter our listener appreciation contest and help spread the word about our show. Also remember you can call in your questions and comments to 866-65-THINK (866-658-4465) and you might hear yourself on the air.

Also remember we have an expert council you can address your calls to. If you do this you should email me right after your call at jack at thesurvivalpodcast.com with expert council call in the subject line. In the body of your email tell me that you just called in a question for the council and what number you called in from. I will then give the call priority when I screen calls.

Join the MSB Today

Join the MSB Today

Want Every Episode of TSP Ever Produced?

Remember in addition to discounts to over 40 vendors who supply stuff you are likely buying anyway, tons of free ebooks and video content, MSB Members also get every edition of The Survival Podcast ever produced in convenient zip files in blocks of 24. More info on the MSB can be found here.

Episode-1363- The Reformation of Public Education via Obsolesce

Compare School to Prison! Click for Full Sized Image.

Compare School to Prison! Click for Full Sized Image.

Yes I know it is supposed to be a Monday feedback show but sometimes I am called or inspired to talk on a subject.  After Friday’s rant about legalized cheating in the class room, I feel it is necessary to do two things to be “fair to educators”, as quite a few people have asked for that.

The first part won’t make those calling for fairness happy but it is about being fair, fair to the children in these systems of programming.  In part one of the show I will further define the problem until it is so in your face you will only defend public education as it is, because you are vested in the system itself so deeply that the truth doesn’t matter.

I was also challenged with what is the solution, so part two, which will likely also not make anyone who wants me to be fair happy will focus on solutions.  I find it funny that most who call for fairness don’t actually want fairness.  In my view the current system is not in need of repair but obsolesce!

Industry has been obsoleting products for hundreds of years.  Many of the products and services we personally used as children and found critical to our daily lives are long gone.  So why do we hang on to a model of education created in Prussia in the 1880s in 2014?

Can we not do better than that?  And bluntly should we turn to public officials, politicians and bureaucrats who live off this flawed system for a solution?  Can we really expect that those who were created by the system, developed the system and profit from the system to fix it?  Are we not simply fools, getting what we deserve if we actually expect that?

Join Me Today As I Discuss

  • 15 ways I consider schools to be similar to minimum security prisons
  • 18 signs that public schools are like prisons – from Lew Rockwell
  • Only 1 school in the top 10 for dollars spent per student is in the top 10 for graduation rates
  • The number of students in home school is now over 2 million
  • Home school students consistently test in higher percentiles in all subjects
  • 66% of home schoolers that start college graduate vs. only 57% of those from public school
  • Going back to “the way it used to be” will not fix the problem
  • The solution is “planned obsolescence”
    • Create a common skills and knowledge base (to about 5-6th grade level)
    • Create hundreds of options for completing the base
    • Create thousands of options for education beyond the base
    • Create thousands more options for “higher specialized education”
    • Create our own private standards bodies at all levels
    • Use an hybrid of nullification and obsolescence as a means to the end
  • It is possible, it is doable but no one will do it for you, we have to do it together

Resources for today’s show…

Today’s Conflicted Monday Scenario

If you could change one thing about the government today what would it be?  How would this change benefit your country and benefit it’s people?

Last Week’s Conflicted Monday Scenario

Grocery stores and mini-marts have been ransacked of all food.  Your group is low on food and is in desperate need of resources.  What other locations would you start looking for food or possible supplies to barter with?

Remember to comment, chime in and tell us your thoughts, this podcast is one man’s opinion, not a lecture or sermon. Also please enter our listener appreciation contest and help spread the word about our show. Also remember you can call in your questions and comments to 866-65-THINK (866-658-4465) and you might hear yourself on the air.

Also remember we have an expert council you can address your calls to. If you do this you should email me right after your call at jack at thesurvivalpodcast.com with expert council call in the subject line. In the body of your email tell me that you just called in a question for the council and what number you called in from. I will then give the call priority when I screen calls.

Our Expert Council is Made Up of…

Join the MSB Today

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Want Every Episode of TSP Ever Produced?

Remember in addition to discounts to over 40 vendors who supply stuff you are likely buying anyway, tons of free ebooks and video content, MSB Members also get every edition of The Survival Podcast ever produced in convenient zip files in blocks of 24. More info on the MSB can be found here

Episode-1356- Scott Jackson from the N.H. Outdoor Learning Center

nhodl!

Scott Jackson is an established licensed guide in NH & ME. He has spent many years as a bush pilot, trapper, hunter & fisherman in America’s greatest frontier called Alaska. After relocating to New Hampshire, Scott and his wife Barb together have built the New Hampshire Outdoor Learning Center which focuses on teaching outdoorsman/women a variety of outdoor classes not offered anywhere else. Scott’s passion for the outdoors compliments his extensive experience and is demonstrated in every class he teaches.

Scott joins us today to discuss his school and how you learn more about hunting, fishing, camping, wilderness survival, archery, firearms boating and everything outdoors. The New Hampshire Outdoor learning center is an organization dedicated to advanced skillset training that will allow you to master the outdoors and enhance your experiences and success in the woods and on the waters.

Resources for today’s show…

Remember to comment, chime in and tell us your thoughts, this podcast is one man’s opinion, not a lecture or sermon. Also please enter our listener appreciation contest and help spread the word about our show. Also remember you can call in your questions and comments to 866-65-THINK (866-658-4465) and you might hear yourself on the air.

Also remember we have an expert council you can address your calls to. If you do this you should email me right after your call at jack at thesurvivalpodcast.com with expert council call in the subject line. In the body of your email tell me that you just called in a question for the council and what number you called in from. I will then give the call priority when I screen calls.

Our Expert Council is Made Up of…

Join the MSB Today

Join the MSB Today

Want Every Episode of TSP Ever Produced?

Remember in addition to discounts to over 40 vendors who supply stuff you are likely buying anyway, tons of free ebooks and video content, MSB Members also get every edition of The Survival Podcast ever produced in convenient zip files in blocks of 24. More info on the MSB can be found here.

 

Episode-1327- Jen Mendez on Permaculture Based Childrens Education

Jen Mendez of PermieKids.com

Jen Mendez of PermieKids.com

Jen Mendez is a wife, mother, permaculture enthusiast and student, lifelong learner, urban homesteader, and professionally trained, successful educator gone rogue. Her experiences living and working around the world as an active duty military member led to an understanding  of the need for and the impact of education on the future of our world.

After her service, she completed a Masters in International Education with a focus on early childhood and elementary education and has been an educator ever since. Between her time as a classroom teacher and now as a homeschooling parent, she has fused her passion for educating and her enthusiasm for permaculture into an ethical, scientific design process to create a comprehensive, project-based inquiry education that empowers in learning and life.

The goal is to help children become active, solutions-based thinkers and do-ers. She has created an approach to education that the children, parents, grandparents, teachers, and other mentors can use to collaborate and design an education that meets the needs, goals, and passions of each individual children.

Moreover, she is using her knowledge and connections within the educational community to access, integrate, and re-configure resources that already exist so that, in the words of Bill Mollison (Permaculture Designers’ Manual, p.9), “It arranges what was already there in a different way, so that it works to conserve energy or to generate more energy than it consumes.” The idea is that as a community, we can use this commonsense, ethical design system and resources to create an education that empowers in learning and life.

Resources for today’s show…

Remember to comment, chime in and tell us your thoughts, this podcast is one man’s opinion, not a lecture or sermon. Also please enter our listener appreciation contest and help spread the word about our show. Also remember you can call in your questions and comments to 866-65-THINK (866-658-4465) and you might hear yourself on the air.

Also remember we have an expert council you can address your calls to. If you do this you should email me right after your call at jack at thesurvivalpodcast.com with expert council call in the subject line. In the body of your email tell me that you just called in a question for the council and what number you called in from. I will then give the call priority when I screen calls.

Our Expert Council is Made Up of…

Join the MSB Today

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What Exactly is a Permaculture Design Certification and What Isn’t

I have been working with Permaculture, implementing designs and teaching it to others for about 5 years now.  5 years ago like many new to the concept I thought Permaculture was simply planting trees and bushes vs. annual crops, boy was I wrong.

I am an information sponge when a new topic of interest comes up.  When I realized permaculture wasn’t just a word but an entire design science I went into overdrive.  Someone sent me Geoff Lawton’s “Greening the Desert” and my mind opened to things I had never even considered before.  After that, I soon discovered 3 great resources that stemmed from Bill Mollison they were…

I watched the videos and read the PDF at a speed I am sure Bill has never spoken at.  I read it again, watched it again, etc.  I bought copies of Permaculture One, Permaculture Two, The Permaculture Design Manual and any other videos and/or books that seemed worth having.  As is typical I first became an expert in the intellectual sense on the concept and then began practical application along side of that effort.

In those 5 years I became a recognized name in the discipline.  I have guest lectured at PDCs, I have presented at major events, taken part in great workshops as a student.  Along the way I also took a PDC for which I got a certificate.  The course was online as it was the only way I could get it done.  Today I consider that certification worthless.  Don’t get me wrong, the course taught me a lot, I learned a lot, but it was NOT a Permaculture Design Certification course in my view now.

Like I said I have pretty much invested in every single resource that is available in the Permaculture space.  So when Geoff Lawton and Bill Mollison released an entire PDC on DVD I bought it, in spite of a HUGE shipping cost from Australia.  I sat down, put in the first DVD and even took notes (not something I am known for) and in the first 8 hours I learned the following…

  • More about design science then I had from all the other material I had reviewed
  • 5 times what I had in my entire online PDC course at least
  • What Permaculture really is, “ethical design science and art coming together”
  • That many so called PDC Courses in the US are simply not qualified to be called a true PDC

I know this will upset some people, but it is simply true.  A design course should prepare you to go design systems from small to large in any climate on the planet.  A person that completed such a course should be able to look at the shape of land forms and know the climate they are in from that alone.  They should understand earth works, swales, sills, guilds and more.  Sadly many don’t.

Of course Geoff Lawton has now released an online PDC but not everyone will be able to take it.  For some the cost is too high, for others the timing isn’t right and they will only take so many students to make sure that the quality of education is sufficient.  Not to mention someone has to review the final published projects of each student seeking certification.

Additionally for Permaculture to keep growing we need it to be profitable and there are many outstanding teachers out there.  Two that spring to mind are Ben Falk who is actually moving more to doing specific hands on workshops vs. PDCs which I find very cool, I think there is a huge demand for this.  The other that jumps to mind is Bill Wilson of Midwest Permaculture.  I know for a fact Bill’s curriculum was based on direct guidance from the Permaculture Research Institute of Australia.

There are a few facts about the term Permaculture and the history of the movement.  The first is the word was coined by Bill Mollison who co wrote Permaculture One with David Holmgren.   After that is was Bill who developed the PDC curriculum and began teaching and evolving it.  This went on pretty much for about 20 years and along Bill’s side for almost all of that time was Geoff Lawton.  Together these two men made Permaculture into a global concept, they created the brand, taught thousands of students and evolved the concept based on science and ethics.

To me if you are going to say you are a “Certified Permaculture Designer” it certainly isn’t necessary to be taught by one of these two men, though it is great to do so if you can.  What you should do though is go though the material and concepts that actually were created by the industries founder, Bill Mollison.  Again this is based on the science of design, the prime directive and three core ethics.  There are two problems with many courses that claim to be PDCs in my view.  One is what they don’t include and the other is what they do include, both are major hurtles holding Permaculture back in my view.

Problems With What Isn’t Included

This one is pretty easy, here are some questions I would ask any company or individual who wanted to sell me a PDC course, if they can answer them all sufficiently, I think you are good to go.

  1. Can you tell me what a sill is and how it functions?
  2. Can you explain the basic difference between sector and zone analysis?
  3. Will your course teach me about landscape profiles?
  4. Will your course teach me to design systems in any climate or landscape?
  5. What makes your PDC valid, did you receive guidance from the PRI of Australia flat out would Bill Mollison consider a certificate from your course valid?

Bluntly, before I would spend my money on a Permaculture Design Course I would want a satisfactory answer to all those questions, with one consideration.  That consideration is a question to myself, “does certification matter to me, is that something I really want as a credential?”.

Many of these courses are actually exceptional, you learn incredible things, lots about design and they can help you a great deal in many ways.  However, if they are not based on the core curriculum of Permaculture’s founder, they are not in my view a Design Certification.  I don’t think most of these schools are doing this for negative purposes, I just think they feel qualified to teach and are selling what they feel people want.  Such schools would do best to simply start offering workshops based on regional design, specific techniques, etc. rather then make their own version of a PDC .  Either that or seek guidance from the PRI to make sure the curriculum is complete.  Either would be fine in my book.

Problems With What Is Included

This is a bigger problem to me.  Most of the courses with this issue have the what isn’t included problem as well, but these are much worse when the missing info is back filled with an agenda.   Being a very nature based system Permaculture attracts what many would call modern day hippies and/or people into a lot of “airy fairy stuff”.  Generally a lot of politics get added in when you start down that path.  Before I continue I want to provide a quote from Permaculture’s founder, Bill Mollison it is…

“So it’s [permaculture] a revolution. But permaculture is anti-political. There is no room for politicians or administrators or priests. And there are no laws either. The only ethics we obey are: care of the earth, care of people, and reinvestment in those ends.”

I want to point out here that the above quote isn’t my view it is the view of Permaculture’s founder, the man whom we all must thank for the existence of the Permaculture movement as a whole.  You can read the interview that quote comes from here.

Here are some examples of things that I know have actually been stated in so called Permaculture Design Courses, none of which I feel have any place in a PDC

  • If you own a gun you are not a real permaculturist
  • If you don’t use your urine for fertilizer you are not a permaculturist
  • You must be off grid 100% or you are not a permaculturist
  • If you are a republican you are not a permaculturist
  • If you don’t believe in global warming based on CO2 you are not a permaculturist
  • If you use heavy equipment you are not a permaculturist
  • Every permaculture student should be a vegetarian
  • All surplus should be redistributed (a bastardization of the third ethic)
  • You can’t have an SUV and practice permaculture
  • Permaculture is all or nothing

That is just the start.  There are PDCs which require the students to camp out, they are not permitted to get a hotel at their own expense as it is considered wasteful on fuel.  Some have a lot of hippy like campfire time with bare feet, singing, chanting etc.  That I actually have no problem with as long as it is something additional for those that want to do it and not part of the curriculum and required.  In some instances it has been part of the core course.

In a PDC if you are discussing energy it should be the potential or kinetic energy of actual scientific forces of nature.  Not the “energy of the goddess spirit of Mother Earth”.  I again have no problem with people who have this spiritual view.  I have no problem with people that gain a Permaculture education and then practice it from this view.  That is fine, we all practice our professions in a specific angle based on our personal spiritually and world view.  It just isn’t something that belongs in the educational components of something that is supposed to be based on design science.  Frankly a PDC should not be used to indoctrinate others with any individual’s political or spiritual views.  It should be all about what works and how and why to do it.

Consider taking a course in architecture at a university.  Now if you talk to students in that course you will find some are Christian, some atheists, some die hard democrats and some die hard republicans and others might be politically agnostic.  The teacher too will have a specific geo political world view.  Some may come though in his teaching but basically he is going to teach his students to design a building.

Along with other training those students will then design buildings and much of who and what they are will go into said designs, heck deeply religious students might specialize in designing churches.  Yet the education will be about structure, engineering, foundations, etc.  In other words what works, what makes a building safe, useable, etc.  That teacher shouldn’t be teaching his students that “the mystical energy of Mother Earth can be channeled though the arches of the building”, such has little place in the world of academia in a architectural course.  If you want such things take a course on world religion or metaphysics.

The approach of injecting politics and spiritually into a PDC is extremely damaging to the movement.  The reality is taking a PDC takes time and money.  Many people with the money and willing to sacrifice the time are doing so because they have seen the results of permaculture and want to be better able to reproduce them.  Many also want to make permaculture part of a business in the realm of sustainable landscaping as part of an existing business.  Some want to go into full on consulting.  Some want to go into teaching workshops and courses of their own.

Such people want to know what works, how it works, why it works and how to do it.  They are generally not interested in dancing in mud, chanting mantras or being told they are evil for having their own political opinions.  In fact I have spoken to a lot of people that took PDCs who were very turned off of permaculture because they became convinced that this was the heart of what permaculture really is.  Geoff has confirmed that he has had the same experience in speaking with thousands of people around the world who have been though similar so called PDCs.

Conversely when a person has taken a true PDC based on the core curriculum of the movement’s founder the response is almost always positive.  They are on fire with a desire to implement solutions and frankly capable of doing it.  They become open to how awesome nature’s systems are, they start designing highway medians in their head during rush hour and begin to see every problem as a solution.

These concepts are universal.  Once explained no republican with an open mind has ever objected to the concepts of care of the earth, care of people and return of surplus nor has any democrat, libertarian, etc. whom I have explained them to.  I have never shown the results of a well executed permaculture project to anyone that didn’t think it was an amazing thing.  Almost every human on the planet I show the results side of things to wants at least a little piece of it in their lives.

Permaculture could be the most popular movement on our planet if some us can get out of our own way.  I am not saying you should change your political view or your spiritual view if you are in this camp, just that you should let others be free to have their own views on this stuff.  I am also stating that we should not drag divisional baggage into a universally appealing movement.

Some people feel no one should own a SUV and all homes should have solar panels.  Well, great, get a compact car or a horse for all I care, shut off the grid and put up your panels.  Don’t however attack the guy with a FJ Cruiser, a big AC System on his house who also happens to spend a lot of money and time to transform his entire property into a urban food forest.  His efforts are just as valuable as many who are far more “green” in the totality of their lives.

Frankly his contribution might be better.  Should his backyard become an example to many other upper middle class in his neighborhood and they emulate him.  Sure they may drive gas guzzlers and watch 70 inch TVs but hell isn’t that their choice to make?  Are we not all better off to have 10,000 such people plant their grass lawns to beneficial plantings?  Isn’t it better that 10,000 such families develop 10,000 distributed local food systems even if they continue to do other things you personally consider wasteful.

Simply put once you start down the permaculture path your life becomes more sustainable and your ecological foot print becomes softer.  Each of us chooses exactly how far we walk such a path.  Some will live in an off grid earthship, grow 70% of our own food and buy the other 30% from only local sources.  Others will live a 100% modern style life but transform our landscapes into something productive, beautiful and sustainable.  Most of us are like myself, we are somewhere in the middle.  We reduce our waste, do as much as we can to be self sufficient and sustainable and slowly implement as much design as we can afford into our lives.

There is a place for all such people in Permaculture.  Frankly the die hards among us need a lot of the people on the “permaculture edge” if we want to build a life and an income based on permaculture principles.  Rather then putting down the upper middle class guy with a large SUV living in the suburbs, qualified designers should be selling that guy a design.   If he wants solar panels great, but if he just wants an edible landscape design then design it for him, implement it and bill him for it.  I mean I drive a truck, it was expensive but I don’t know how to build one nor do I want a job doing so.  I don’t really care how to build a truck.  I am also not about to study automotive engineering before I buy a vehicle.  I have a house, I bought it, I don’t want to become a carpenter.

We as designers should be selling design to anyone that will buy it and implement it.  If they want an end to end system fine, but if they only want 30% that is fine too.  Just get them on the path and don’t be afraid to make a profit along the way.  This all starts with good design and good design comes from fully qualified designers.

Don’t take this the wrong way.  Let’s say you have a teacher in your area that has studied permaculture deeply.  Say this person never took a real PDC but developed a course specific to your region.  That course might be amazing and might be worth spending time and money on.  Honestly for some it might do more for them then a PDC, I really mean that.  But a Design Course meant to teach global principles of design and a regional course on specific techniques are two different things.

Likewise if you want to do a two week Permaculture event, dance around the fire, pray to the Earth Spirit, take mud baths, burn incense, discuss politics from your view or what have you knock yourself out.  When I say we have room for everyone, I mean it.  Just call it what it is, a Spiritual Retreat with a Permaculture Component.  Tell people where you are coming from and what to expect and enjoy the hell out of yourself but don’t claim that it is a PDC because it isn’t.

In the end people make their own choices about their own businesses and the market will judge based on results.  This article isn’t to be a seminal work on what makes one qualified to teach a PDC or not.  I just want to make people on all sides of this issue think a bit deeper about it.  Additionally I wanted to provide my audience with my view on how to select a permaculture course or teacher.  Again many courses are really wonderful, saying something isn’t a PDC isn’t a put down, it is just a fact based on the core realities and components of permacutlure design as founded by Bill Mollison.