Permacation: how a mixed environment can bring about a better delivery of education

August 24, 2013 10:04 am Published by Leave your thoughts


Taking a break from revising for a politics exam, I watched a documentary on the manipulation of the human voice. Although the subject of that documentary is irrelevant to the topic of this article, it helped me to write it. It so inspired me that I began to do some background research into the subject, before getting back to my revision. When I returned to my revision, I found myself refreshed, keener to learn and somewhat optimistic. The positive results from alternating my study, to keep my brain ‘un-frozen’, led me to do a similar thing on a regular basis. Over time, I found that not only did I improve my revision technique but I also gained extra information that acted as building blocks in my ‘wall of knowledge’.

The National Curriculum

The intention of the National Curriculum was to promote a basic level of understanding in english, maths, history, language and science. There is no secret in saying that the ‘Curriculum’ was not introduced to promote co-operation or individual ingenuity. It has instead led to discourage any creative endeavour and ‘pigeon-hole’ childrens’ success or failure. The current National Curriculum has ignored the need to address practical and real world application of the three compulsory subjects. The introduction of the ‘new’ curriculum guidelines for 2014 creates even greater issues. Firstly, children are expected to perform at a higher level earlier in their lives: the fact that the world’s top educational performers do not even enlist such conditions suggests this is a clause unsupported by any evidence that it promotes learning and future achievement. Perhaps testing children so early in their lives could even be a cause of unnecessary stress? Additionally, it is argued that Gove’s proposed changes to teaching history will not only narrow students opportunities to learn about other cultures but could also condition blind patriotism. Finally, for those working in the state education system, changes to the curriculum can signal an end to their ability to be employed for the newly revised subjects, leaving state schools under-equipped and lacking the resources to cope with the new plans.

Permaculture applied to education

Permaculture is not only an agricultural method but also an attempt to improve humankind’s relationship with nature and others and to improve one’s happiness and lifestyle.

Permaculture enlists many options to cultivation, be it in your garden, your allotment plot or your farm. The trick comes with the promotion of bio-diversity. Furthermore, bio-diversity allows plants to ‘cooperate’ to create a sustainable environment, enhances wildlife and allows some companion plants to protect the crop from insect destruction. Permaculture also calls for the protection of a child’s ability to develop fairly, without the strains of economic resourcing in factories or faulty education. Permaculture does offer alternative options to our current education system. L. Macnamara (2012) explains how permaculture’s principles of cooperation, happiness and a friendly learning environment can help to motivate educational success. Macnamara also believes we can learn from its success in nature through its promotion of diversity. This is not to say that I would compare a plant’s development to that of child’s, but I acknowledge the importance of giving people more options to choose from and the ability to act on their wishes in an environment that offers such choice. Educational diversity somewhat mirrors the success of bio-diversity.

Using the teaching of geometry in mathematics as an example, I will highlight the need for diversity in education. To teach a child ‘geometry’ without any application to activities in one’s life is not only to make mathematics a chore but it is to alienate creativity from a subject that is of great importance. Involving different educational disciplines into ‘geometry’ can help the child relate to the subject in alternative ways. It is important to recognise that one child learns differently from another. To be able to teach the child about ‘geometry’ in mathematics, then to link that understanding to the lay of the land, to the construction of a house, the manufacturing of a car, the fabrication of a table or even to art, is to be able to develop an incentive for the child to learn and be passionate about the subject. If you like, an ‘Educationally Diverse Environment’, with subjects acting as companions who will re-enforce your ability to understand a subject, if nature thrives under a diverse environment and we are part of nature, then it would be unfair to deny children this choice.

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This post was written by Elijah Pryor

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