Episode-1543- Matt Powers on Permaculture Based Youth Education
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Matt Powers was raised in New England ski racing, attended NYU and played in bands as a studio and touring musician for many years. Now he is a teacher, author, family guy, blogger & permaculturist living in the foothills of Central Valley California between Yosemite National Park and Fresno. He is focused on permaculture education, alternative schooling, intentional community building, farming, family, faith & music.
Matt teaches at a charter/public school, Minarets High School in O’Neils, CA, where all 10-12th graders have macbook laptops (less than 500 kids attend the school total). Almost everything is online save a few class sets of books like 1984 and Fahrenheit 451. It is a projects-based school that is student-centered and focused on choice.
He joins us today to discuss, Permaculture Youth Education (Pre-College) and how that can impact society for the better. He is also the author of The Permaculture Student textbook series which is his take on why we need to have permaculture as the backbone of our education system.
Today we will be discussing his books and the need for there to be permaculture history, architecture and even coloring books. Discussing alternative schooling, the way the mind actually learns, how abstraction is bad for the mind, and how permaculture can fix it, even in a public school context (as long as it is non-compulsory public ed).
Resources for today’s show…
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- The Year 1543
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- Walking To Freedom
- TSP Gear
- Sawtooth Tactical – (sponsor of the day)
- Ready Made Resources – (sponsor of the day)
- Matt’s Website
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I can’t believe Jack actually endorsed public education.
Matt – Keep up the good work. Can’t wait till my Permaculture Student arrives in the mail.
No I endorsed a teacher.
No. You endorsed his teaching strategies and that his school is 1:1 laptop. All of which are more common than you think. Not the norm for sure but it’s becoming the norm.
Believing that a Public School made a single good decision or has a teacher with good strategies is not an endorsement of public school. No more so than saying that the Germany built really great tanks in WWII would be an endorsement of the Nazi Government. Your critical thinking is sorely lacking here.
Jack, Matt, so I hear all this criticism about the public school system, but not much about the public university system. Granted the latter is not compulsory, their structure is very similar. The first two years of college are a rehash of high school. You go for 9 months from one class to another, and at the end of X number of classes the university awards you a diploma in your chosen discipline. How is this different, better, or worse than high school, then? And if those differences were reconciled, could public school system through 12 not be made at least on par as college?
Well Matt is a High School teacher so that is his world but if you claim not to hear slamming of the college system on TSP I have to ask have you been getting stoned before listening?
Well, I do hear that not everyone needs to go to college, but that very different from college is bad.
The reason I mentioned this is that if school K thru12 was not compulsory and it actually kicked student out who were trouble makers or not serious about their education, the system would not be bad. The rest of the world is more or less on the same page as we are with public schools except that disciplines problems are addresses by making room for more deserving students.
🙂 we didn’t cover as much as hoped but I felt that we covered a lot. I can address more here. For the record, our school is half charter half public, so I’m quasi-everything (since we unschool in our private family homeschool as well).
I noticed I didn’t finish answering the question on how I implement permaculture in English – I rambled – apologies. I use permaculture as an option often for solutions to problems that we are considering like Detroit’s collapse, the drought in California, etc. We watch excerpts from John D. Liu’s and Geoff Lawton’s documentaries like Green Gold & Greening the Desert. I use systems analysis from permaculture to analyze businesses we design in class as well. Often students get depressed when they hear about the world’s issues; I have permaculture at the ready to assuage their fears.
I meant to add that military is the only option for many kids to financially survive their college & graduate school education, so it is becoming more and more attractive for more students as the economy dips further and student loan awareness spreads – that’s why it is so critical that they know to choose a path, so they build skills through that experience.
I don’t mean to be exclusionary when I say “American” but I do mean to say that the American dream is the idea that our children will live better than we did (which is open to interpretation assuredly but I think the root of all the American dreams we’ve had is this idea of advancement for the next generation through the work and sacrifice of the current one). Again, it’s not necessarily American alone, but I do believe that it is core to the American dream.
Zinn fans: that opening chapter has noble savage written all over it. I love that book, but I must be balanced.
Kevin – THANK YOU FOR BEING A BACKER!!! YOU RULE!!!! On the public school thing: I don’t think it is that simple. I don’t support our current structure of public schooling at all in any shape or form. It is all wrong: standardized assessments teach kids to conceal weaknesses instead of demonstrate skill, grades are judgements rather than indicators of completeness, no one should be forced to go to school ever, it focuses on abstractions & myths instead of real-life problem solving and current events, a lack of ethics is teaching kids that the world has no compass ethically, & the very unsustainable fiscal structure of schools themselves. I’m working on creating a new kind of school that is small, sustainable & valuable such that communities will choose it over the current model. We will always have to have something for those who have nothing and no one to support them. I believe in using community abundance and time to do that, but I don’t believe in the state or federal control or funding of it. I think everything can be handled by local communities without question. I believe we can have wonderful community schools that generate a value for the community such that the community supports it financially.
Jose – the college system is broken as well. When the college & student loan bubble pops, the real economic hard times for those relying upon the state’s system will arrive. The student loans are in the trillions and our economy cannot currently repay that through the jobs available.
🙂 This was really fun! Thanks again Jack!
Some more Websites:
my school Minarets High School:
The Forgotten Food Forest – the children’s storybook being illustrated right now:
Totally agree with you. Well said.
Where can we go to find the books that were funded by the kickstarter? The links provided all lead to the kickstarter which is closed.
Charter schools are 100% public schools.
Public in this case refers to it as a standard, district-run public high school – which half the kids are enrolled in because they live here in this district. The other half are charter (which created the school through local funding, grants & community charter stipulating what the school should be). It is true that both get funding from the public though one is/was heavily subsidized locally (the charter) and has a locally controlled vision & purpose which is what I salute. The more local it is, the better.
When I saw who the interview was with today I was stoked. Matt, You nailed this interview and really helped me put into words many of my feelings about Peraculture, public schools and the way the world currently works. Like I told you at PV2, You are only beginning the fantastic journey and the bright future ahead of you. Thank you for sharing YOU. I look forward to collaborating with you in the future. If I can help in any way let me know. Again, great job in the interview and on the books. I can’t wait to get the books.
Thank you John for the support! I can’t wait to send or deliver those books! 🙂 Let’s make this world a better place starting with our own communities!
I really enjoyed this interview a lot. Thank you Jack and Matt. You really made me think. I had been thinking about having my children do some kind of independent project over the summer that would be self-motivating (they are in private school but same class structure as public school). I liked your “why” or “how” idea, Matt. I think I will be using that one 🙂
Here’s our new website:
or for more regular updates: facebook.com/ThePermacultureStudent
I have some lesson plans up for sale & I’ll post the Amazon link to the book as soon as it is up & ready 🙂