European Educational model

In a nutshell, this is a best practices guide: a document based on international researches and shared experiences from the three project partners.

Exploring the potential of permaculture gardening – the positive impact on people and the way they live together, they participate in social life and interact with their surroundings.

For who?

Adult educators, organizations, teachers, facilitators, change makers… And anyone interested in spreading the values of Social Permaculture in their community.

Objective:

To provide new approaches for teaching learners, including adults from disadvantaged backgrounds, to become true actors of change in their local communities.

The document:

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The essential of the Educational Model

About this Educational Model

An open-source toolkit for adult educators working with learners with disadvantages

With this European Educational model (piloted and validated) we want to provide a toolkit for adult educators to teach learners, including learners with disadvantages, to become true factors of change in their local communities.

The model develops approaches for teaching sustainability together with shared values such as social inclusion, solidarity, community spirit, equality (not separate methods, but overall methodology) variety and comprehensiveness, rate of coverage of competences, concurrence to end beneficiaries profiles, match with the training objectives, needs and the training strategy.

The model offers methods, which can be applied to groups with no previous knowledge and experiences in permaculture or community gardening. We wish to provide tools for implementing low threshold educational activities with fast and short time results.

The Educational Model and open educational resources have the potential to be used in other areas of training and education. At national, regional, European or even international level it may be of importance in preparing the trainers to be facilitators in adult education or in youth, for promoting social gardening.

Furthermore, other stakeholders (for example potential users of the outputs like professionals from environmental and social organizations, experts or trainers in the field) will benefit from the access to innovative and interactive learning methods and contents. They will be able to make use of the project outputs which will remain available.  

We believe in the advantages of open-source approaches: the model can be continuously collaboratively developed, used and shared. Through field experiences, reviews by peers and new contributors the model can improve and be adapted to specific needs.   

A model synthesizing different experiences across Europe and transfer of best practices

We joined our different professional expertise as adult educators and environmental facilitators to create an educational model, which will be used to work with diverse groups of adults, including vulnerable ones. 

Through a co-creation process among partners, all partners contributed to identify the key constructs/statements, needs and best practices which can be useful for other contexts as well. 

Spanish, German and Romanian educators have had a continuous exchange of ideas and know-how regarding the model during almost monthly online meetings. Through our different backgrounds and field of expertises (for example, the Spanish partner brings more experience in social permaculture, the German one more experience in urban gardening and the Romanian one more experience in working with adults with disadvantages), our cooperation allowed us to learn from each other, transfer innovations and share best practices.

Before working concretely on the model each partner was engaged in a research process regarding the already existing resources in their country. Literature, training courses and initiatives around permaculture and community gardens in our respective regions were examined.  This research allowed us to evaluate the different challenges and opportunities as well as the common ones. We hope with this approach to provide a toolkit which can cover the realities of different contexts and  reflect an European perspective. 

Last but not least, a panel of experts from all partner countries will evaluate the Model and will assure the content has the validity that the description requires. The Educational Model will be evaluated by and validated by the learning facilitators and experts from all partners during the international staff training (LTTA) in Berlin and validated during the local training activities organized with the target groups.

A model assessing gardening as a non-formal and informal learning tool

1. Gardening as a way of promoting community spirit and social inclusion

For marginalized communities, newcomers and learners with disadvantages, the neighbourhood can represent a hostile place where racist, aggressive and other discriminatory behaviors are experienced on a regular basis. It is not rare that we hear newcomers from the global south say that “they live here, but it’s not their place”. This feeling, induced by many factors (and not only through experiences of racism and social ostracism) is a fertile ground for a vicious circle: if I’m not respected as I am, why should I respect the people and the place where I feel rejected and not valued? A perspective which in consequence leads to destructive behaviors, learning blocades and even more rejection.

How can this vicious circle be interrupted? Encouraging people to transform the place “they live in but not belong to” can be a starting point. Working with the ground and soil on one hand, and to experience the concrete and positive transformation induced by our own action on the other hand can be a completely new experience, which opens the door to learning processes: this is what we want to foster with this model. 

While we use the urban gardens with learners with disadvantages, we not only take care of the land we also take care of our peers: we create new ecosystems in our garden at the same time as within our social system. This is a very valuable transformative community process as by understanding your neighbour, less hostility will appear across the neighbourhood: the more you share, the more social cohesion there is.

2. Gardening as a tool for acquiring new practical skills and reaching empowerment

Some marginalized groups are suffering from not being allowed (like refugees) or not being able to take an active part in the society. Missing working permits, disabilities, language, and cultural barriers… Many factors can lead learners with disadvantages to a forced position of passivity. This often results in the apparition of depression and the internalization of “low profile”.

Through the care of a garden, a community and finally a city, this effect can be tackled. A very concrete example: if we are not there to take care of a plant, this plant might die: we are necessary for its existence and we are hence part of a bigger picture. To experience that others are enjoying your work and complimenting your efforts is also an important ingredient for intrinsic motivation and empowerment. 

Indeed, social permaculture is inclusive – its principles can be applied to group work in all situations, and  engage all participants:

“By using Permaculture Principles to design group work, we enable the very best in people to emerge. We cease to see and experience monocultures of processes and presentations, and enjoy diverse methods of facilitating and participating in groups. […] Social equality and racial inclusion are not issues outside the permaculture movement but are integral and are at the heart of regenerative design”

The community garden allows new forms of knowledge and skill acquisition, far from conventional learning. Learners are developing competencies without being pressured by competition and external reward or punishment systems like grades and diplomas. The learner learns in the garden mostly for his/ her own personal interests and development. Nobody is forcing a curriculum and gardeners set their own objectives. They have then to gather information and skills accordingly, which needs a learning strategy: asking questions, observing, reading etc. It is essential to develop these learning strategies for many domains in life, but these strategies are often developed at their best, when the learner is curious and experiences intrinsic motivation (see. i.e. Siebert 2014).

Learners who had bad experiences in school (for example feeling humiliated or misjudged through grading systems) often develop so-called “learning blockades” and learning processes are often associated with fears and anxiety to fail. The garden, as a safe(r) space, is providing a learning environment, where failing is ok and even part of the process. If a plant is not growing as expected, then the learner will try to find out why and through this research deep learning is occurring: a learning that will remain in the memory as it was connected to a concrete experience.  Furthermore, we observed that ecological gardening can be used as a tool to attract the target groups to learn about other topics that they wouldn’t be interested in otherwise.

3. Gardening as a tool for changing attitudes and behaviours towards the environment

Additionally, the community garden as a place to learn to take care about nature, people and surroundings is therefore a place to learn to take responsibility and develop a sensibility for the environment. The garden as a long-term project needs attention and actions which are not sporadic and fluctuant according to the motivation and moods of the gardener. The gardener shall be reliable for achieving results and being able to obtain their yield. 

The community garden is not only requesting reliability for the plants but also for the community and the collective. Working in a collective means also not breaking joint agreements, being there in good but also bad times and taking an active part in the distribution of tasks, be they pleasant or not. 

Beyond the integrative and cohesive aspects, the educational model based on permaculture and community gardening is addressing concrete competences (i. e. social entrepreneurship), practical skills (i.e. resource management) and new knowledge about permaculture, environment, community etc. Even though it can be problematic to evaluate the learning outcomes of gardening, we matured a list of different tangible competencies, which can be gained through permaculture and community gardening (see the map of competencies).

A model with methods for non-formal and informal education

The methodology is focused on social networking and non-formal education, by using micro-learnings that can be easily adapted at national level based on the needs of each target group, including the specific needs of the participants with fewer opportunities.

The model also contains the assessment methodology – exploring different methods, through social media, website and feedback sheets to collect feedback. The methodology responds to the previously identified training needs of adults at the European level and in the partners’ countries, with focus on the needs of adults with disadvantages that have limited access and little motivation to take part in environmental education because they often face financial instability, health problems and other difficulties. We opted for Bite-sized learning tools, as we believe they are more able to respond to the needs of our target groups. Bite-sized learning allows educators to integrate funny and relational aspects in their training; and to step aside hierarchical didactic patterns, which can be rebarbative. 

Concepts and framework

Social Inclusion

We base our understanding of inclusion based on the definition provided by the United Nations:

“Social inclusion is defined as the process of improving the terms of participation in society, particularly for people who are disadvantaged, through enhancing opportunities, access to resources, voice and respect for rights”.  

The Commission of the European Communities develops furthers the terms of participation:

“Social inclusion is a process which ensures that those at risk of poverty and social exclusion gain the opportunities and resources necessary to participate fully in economic, social, political and cultural life and to enjoy a standard of living that is considered normal in the society in which they live. It ensures that they have greater participation in decision making which affects their lives and access to their fundamental rights”

Social inclusion corresponds therefore to organisational efforts and practices in which different groups or individuals having different backgrounds are culturally and socially accepted and respected for who they are. The process of Inclusion improves the sense of belonging and the feeling of being valued.

Our target groups, adults with disadvantages, are subject to social exclusion: different factors like unemployment, poor skills, low incomes, poor housing, high crime, poor health and family breakdown etc… lead them to an inability to participate in the normal activities available to the majority of people in a society. Vicious circles are then unavoidable, disadvantages leading to even bigger disadvantages. The efforts for social inclusion are therefore aiming to break this negative dynamic and create possibilities for participation.

Around 22,4% of the population in Europe lives in households at risk of poverty or social exclusion – and the percentage is even higher in rural areas or suburbs. The most powerless people in our societies are likely to be worst affected by the consequences of a crisis (like the COVID 19 pandemia), not only economically, but also regarding the access to affordable and balanced food. Increasing food autonomy and changing consumption patterns towards sustainable habits could be a way for adult educators to motivate and empower final beneficiaries to improve their socio-economic situation, health and educational opportunities.

Environmental and climate challenges

The European Environment Agency reports 3 main alarming trends:

  1. a catastrophical rate of biodiversity loss, 
  2. increasing impacts of climate change,
  3. overconsumption of natural resources.

These trends impact not only the environment but also human health and well-being.  For example, exposure to fine particulate matter is responsible for around 400 000 premature deaths in Europe every year, affecting central and eastern European countries disproportionally. Climate change has substantially increased the occurrence of climate and weather extremes, including heat waves, heavy precipitation, floods and droughts, in many regions of Europe, which is having a catastrophic impact on people’s lives, like losing homes. The report of the Agency also underlines that Europe is “affected by indirect climate impacts occurring in other parts of the world in multiple ways, such as through trade and supply chains, spread of infections, threats to international security, or migration”  

The lack of improvements in these disastrous trends are due to the inextricable link of polluting activities with economic activities, lifestyles and systems of productions and consumptions which provide Europeans with necessities such as food, energy and mobility. It is therefore urgent to reconsider these polluting economic activities, lifestyles and systems of productions and consumptions. Permaculture and social permaculture can provide an approach to improve our relationship with the environment and with others.

What is permaculture and social permaculture?

Permaculture

“Permaculture is a system of conscious and integrating design of sustainable human settlements and agricultural ecosystems, following the model of natural ecosystems, so that they produce what people need, but at the same time to support themselves and contribute to environmental regeneration”

(Definition translated and adapted by the Romanian Permaculture Research Institute after Bill Mollison.)

The ethics of permaculture – care for the earth, care for people and fair share – promote the protection of all life forms on the planet. It “forces” us to take responsibility for our actions. We can choose to be part of the problem or the solution.

Care for the earth includes all concerns aimed at the well-being of the planet, the protection of ecology and biodiversity, active care for a living soil, fertile, permeable, rich in organic matter. It is up to us to choose an ethical and responsible course of action that contributes to our health and the health of the planet, or an irresponsible one that endangers the quality of life of future generations. 

At an individual level we can make a positive impact through simple actions such as: supporting regenerative agriculture, donations to ethical entrepreneurship initiatives, buying local products, drinking filtered water, using bicycles or walking for transport, reducing consumption, cultivating a garden, etc. 

At a collective level we can gather with other like-minded people to have a stronger voice together  and generate a bigger, more profound impact. It can be done, for example, by creating or supporting environmental projects and cooperatives, creating consumption groups or shared ecological gardens, doing environmental lobbying, demanding policies and concrete measures to the local, regional and national level etc.

At an institutional level we can demand our politicians, influencers and key stakeholders  to change the laws, policies and actions towards a more respectful care for the Earth. 

The individual measures alone have been proven to have a small impact in the world, the institutional level is very slow, so that is why the collective power is necessary to increase the impact and put more pressure on the institutions. 

People Care asks that our basic needs for food, shelter, education, employment and healthy social relationships are met. The principle of People Care is an understanding of the power of community and all members of the community must be taken into account.

In the poorest parts of the world, caring for people can mean access to sufficient food and clean water, safety, shelter, etc., while in rich countries there is a need to reposition the concept of comfort and consumption and an industrial technological revolution to replace the current unsustainable systems. However, caring for people is not limited to meeting material needs, since most conflicts have an emotional and socio-political cause. There is also a need to increase our social and interpersonal skills, which are less developed than our technical skills.

Permaculture seeks to share resources equitably between humans, animals and plants, without forgetting that future generations will need food, water and shelter just like us. Knowing the limitations of a system seems to be a challenge, but at the same time a reality that, if assumed and realized, would make it easier to navigate to fair and long-lasting solutions. The intention is to develop a mutually prosperous culture of cooperation, instead of one based on individualistic competition for limited resources.

We can say about horticulture and classical agriculture that they mainly answer questions such as: “what?”, “how?” and “when?”. About permaculture we can say that it rather answers the question “where?”. Permaculture deals mainly with the location of the components of an ecosystem, aiming at creating beneficial relationships between them and, implicitly, the creation of resilient systems, as autonomous as possible.

Apart from the agricultural dimension, permaculture also includes topics such as responsibility and social enterprises, sustainable energy, natural buildings, ecological village projects, etc.

Social Permaculture

Even if social permaculture is still a field defining itself, it is an approach which can help us understand and work with social systems. Social systems (communities, economical, political structures) can be organised less artificially by listening and observing the needs and requirements of the environment and the people. Social permaculture can be applied into different communities with diverse backgrounds, and in our case, with learners with disadvantages.

Social permaculture is using permaculture ethics and principles in order to create designs which are based primarily on social contexts.  For example, behaviour, finances, organisations or communities.

Patrick Whitefield, called permaculture “the art of designing beneficial relationships” . Moreover, when we look around us, it seems that we are embedded in larger systems that do not encourage beneficial relationships. The neoliberal economic system, the different constructs of discreminations—racism, sexism, classism, heterosexism, ageism, ableism— and the disconnection with nature affect us and shape our ways of interactions and living together.

Social permaculture applies the systems-based design of permaculture in urban, social and group contexts to organise and cooperate more effectively, rethinking existing social and economic structures. For example, the different species of plants grow together in harmony, helping each other, and not segregated in different plots as in traditional agriculture. Social permaculture is being used in our project as a metaphor to give hope to the target groups that a more equal and solidary society is also possible. 

As L. MacNamara points out, social permaculture can be seen as a toolkit, which help us design our life and interactions in communities: 

“We need tools for the invisible structures of communication,  decision-making, well-being, education, group dynamics and community building. We need tools that challenge and awaken, move and invigorate, nourish and  empower us; tools that bring us into a fuller sense of ourselves and connect us with the bigger vision of possibility for ourselves and humanity. It is going to take

multiple tools to emerge the cultures that will enable the ethics of Earth care,  peoplecare and Fair shares to grow and flourish for now and future generations.” 

This educational model is aimed at finding innovative approaches to how to design resilient communities and environments through social permaculture. Applying permaculture system design to natural environments means they will be more resilient to climate change and other changes. Applying social permaculture at societal level empowers people and communities to develop beneficial relationships with the ecosystems which sustain us and better withstand shocks and disruptions. 

What is community gardening? 

Urban, Peri-urban, Rural Agriculture

When thinking of agriculture, the first image that comes to our mind is normally some field in the countryside. Usually with an abundance of available land and a lack of socio-cultural activity, rural areas are obviously a privileged target for community gardening projects.

On the other hand, urban and peri-urban agriculture (UPA) has emerged as a new trend, and proves to be extremely interesting. 

  • The concept is simple: use available space within and surrounding the boundaries of cities for the cultivation of crops and other agriculture activities (forestry, livestock, fishery, etc).
  • The benefits are many: UPA “provides fresh food [locally], generates employment, recycles urban waste, creates greenbelts, and strengthens cities’ resilience to climate change.”

The city of Detroit, USA is a living example of the regeneration of urban space through UPA, with great results on food sovereignty and general socio-economic improvements (the city counts over 1,500 urban farms and gardens). 

Community Gardening

Gardening in a community is a domain familiar to society since pretty much gardening and agricultural activities have been invented and dates back to BCC. Throughout the times, it has taken shape as communal working on fields, shared spaces of commons inside, or beyond the borders of the settlements and villages, community supported agriculture, and then – allotment gardens and later the urban community gardening in the shape we know it nowadays. Characterised with * limited space, often public, or semi-public ownership, * often pollution of soil and air, * diverse, sometimes conflicting groups, using the space, * access to local community and helpers, * bank of  knowledge and experiences.

In the beginning of the 19th century, the British government allocated plots on public lands for gardening to address the issue of food shortage, as, due to industrialisation the urban population had rapidly grown. Later on various forms of communal gardening have been adopted across the world. “Followed by changes in people’s style, growing interest in healthy living and sustainable urban development, the aims of urban gardening become more complex. The product of urban gardens, e. g. vegetables or ornamental plants, nowadays plays a less important role, as the main focus is on societal issues, urban regeneration, education and health.”

The benefits of the participation to a permaculture community garden are numerous and diverse:

  • development of healthy human interactions and community building
  • social inclusion through team work and group projects
  • improved communication and group cohesion in the neighbourhood
  • acquisition of practical skills that help improve one’s life quality: gardening, resources management, healthy food, etc… towards healthy lifestyles
  • increased food autonomy to better deal with economic instability and health difficulties
  • ability to make use of organized structures, processes and methods
  • improved creativity and problem-solving skills: innovative solutions using available resources
  • raised awareness and knowledge about the environment and climate change.

Content areas

Content areas are domains of skills and knowledge. They help us to “organize” knowledge, design teaching programs, and implement learning activities. We used the the Key Competences for lifelong learning established by the Council of Europe as a guidance to define the areas:

  1. Literacy
  2. Multilingualism
  3. Numerical, scientific and engineering skills
  4. Digital and technology-based competences
  5. Interpersonal skills, and the ability to adopt new competences
  6. Active citizenship
  7. Entrepreneurship
  8. Cultural awareness and expression

Social permaculture in community gardening covers 2 main areas of competences, both practical and theoretical: one related to biological and environmental learning, one related to social and political learning and finally one related to personal development.  These 3 areas cover competences which are fostering personal fulfilment, a healthy and sustainable lifestyle, employability, active citizenship and social inclusion. Some of these competences are detailed in the next chapter.

Ecological – changing attitudes and behaviors towards the environment
and climate change 

Based on our research and experiences we identified following content areas related to biological and environmental learning through social permaculture in community gardening: 

  • …Biodiversity
  • Animal systems
  • Soil
  • Water systems
  • Seeds
  • Gardening techniques
  • Resource management
  • Food autonomy
  • Climate 
  • Permaculture

Social – promoting community spirit and social inclusion

Content areas related to social and political learning  through social permaculture can be:

  • Communication
  • Decision-making processes
  • Diversity and inclusion
  • Active Citizenship
  • (social) Entrepreneurship
  • Self-organisation

Personal – acquiring new practical skills and reaching empowerment

Content areas related to personal development) through social permaculture can be:

  • Health
  • Self-esteem
  • Resilience
  • Self-determination
  • Dedication
  • Motricity
  • Goal-achievement

A wide range of competences can be discerned around these different content areas.

Map of competences

The map of competencies is covering different skills, knowledge and behaviors which could be achieved through the educational model. Therefore, the map helps to frame the learning objectives and outcomes. Furthermore, the map allows us to visualize interrelated competencies and cluster different domains of learning. Finally, it should be noted that the grid is not providing information on how to “measure” or evaluate the competencies.

Through our research and experiences, we identified three main domains of content areas and competencies, which can emerge from the educational model “Social permaculture through non-formal lifelong learning in community gardens”:

  1. Personal – acquiring new practical skills and reaching empowerment.
  2. Ecological – changing attitudes and behaviours towards the environment and climate change.
  3. Social – promoting community spirit and social inclusion.

These domains have no hierarchical order and the competencies they cover can easily overlap.

The following grids give an overview of the identified competencies and the related content eras. The list of competencies is not exhaustive and is here narrowed to 12 main competencies per domain for concision purpose.  The classification helps us define which competencies can be reached with which contents and methods.

INCLUDE IMAGE OF TABLEs (map competences)

Methodological recommendations

Pedagogical approach

Working with adults

Adult education obviously demands other approaches than working with children and youth. The relationship between the teacher and the learner is based on trust and motivation, as most of the programs are non-mandatory (as is the primary education).  The motivation of the learners is therefore central and represents one of our main challenges.

To foster motivation it is essential to adopt a learner-centered approach: we need to include the former experiences of the learners, include their perspectives, resources and realities in the learning-process, and make visible and tangible the transfer of knowledge acquired into their own life.  We find it important to “meet the people, where they are at” – apply subject oriented educational activities, design the content and the methodology of the models based on the needs and capacities of the learners. To include the knowledge of the learner in the process demands flexibility and a sense of improvisation, which is not ever easy with fixed curriculars and it is there where non-formal and informal approaches can be helpful. Adults come with their own experiences and knowledge, which sometimes generates strong and rigid opinions,- and which sometimes is not valued or recognizable as such. It is the role of the facilitators to integrate these inputs, respect and build upon it.  

Furthermore, it’s our responsibility as educators to find a way to introduce new concepts in a non-top-down way. Patronizing and authoritative attitudes can enhance drop-off and adult learners can develop passive learning strategies, which is contra-productive for deep and emancipatory learning. Therefore it is important to develop methods where learners and teachers have a non-hierarchical relationship and where both are active. In the first place it is recommended to be there as an individual and to show that your attitudes and behaviours are just different perspectives on the same subject / value / problem that you share with the learners. In the learning – provide a lot of nonformal times, exchange off the official activity time. Build relationships and trust between the facilitator and learners and focus on authenticity of the connections.

We prefer to work with the concept of facilitation, not use the concepts “teacher” and “educator”. In this process we are all learners. We are not there to transmit “hard knowledge”, present ready-made concepts. As a facilitator we bring some methods and tools, but then it is up to learners to see what and how they can use them (for further research see i.e. Siebert 2014). 

Non formal and informal education provide hence a fertile ground for applying these approaches. We can develop friendly relationships with the learners and create a learning environment, where learning is not bound to external pressure. Furthermore the educational model we propose with non-formal and informal learning processes is not based on conventional reward systems as grades and diplomas. The valorisation of the learner and the rewarding of goal achievements needs to be connected to the own satisfaction of the learner with himself.

Working with learners with disadvantages

First of all, it is necessary to get to know your target group. Who are the learners? Which former good and bad experiences might they bring with them? What are their needs and wishes? What are their fears and blockages? Where do their disadvantages come from?

According to this information you might reconsider your methods with regard to different aspects, which might put the learners in discomfort. 

Here are some suggestions of aspects to consider while preparing your programm:

  • Accessible language

Is there a common language or do you need translation? Can you reformulate the content with other wording? Do you need visualisation to illustrate certain contents? Is the rhythm of communication adapted to your group?

  • Possibility to work in smaller groups

Lack of self-confidence, shyness, language barriers or socialized roles might hinder some people from expressing themselves. Here it’s good to create tandems and safer spaces for learners which encounter difficulties to communicate.

  • Methods for different senses

We all learn differently and in order to leave no one out, do not hesitate to combine in your explanations, exercises and activities a combination of visual, oral and tactile inputs. Different researches showed that using the different senses in educational activities lead to a deeper learning (ref). 

  • Cross-disciplinary approaches

As using different senses, don’t hesitate as well to create bridges between different disciplines. Some adults might be more pragmatic, others more emotional and others more social learners. In order to connect to their different sensibilities you can refer to different disciplinary perspectives on one subject. For example, you can talk about compost with biological facts but also with historical facts and little anecdotes.

  • Framing of the learning encounter

Are the times fitting the needs of your group? Over which channels do you choose to communicate outside of the meetings? Is there enough breaks and time to process the content? Are the physical needs of the participants considered (ex. chairs for people who can’t stand long…)? 

Without developing further these inclusive pedagogical aspects, we should remember that learners with disadvantages often come with frustrating learning experiences. Thus, it is even more essential to create a safe and comfortable learning environment, in order to avoid demotivation and drop-off.   

The community gardens as a learning field enable learning through experience and action learning. It means learners do learn by being themselves active and taking responsibility.  Learning comes through participation; participation leads to empowerment and helps combat exclusion. Therefore, the main role of the facilitator will be to foster engagement. Trustful and positive relationships are one of the key elements and not only between facilitator and learners but also between the learners themselves. 

Setting up a respectful atmosphere – where so-called “stupid” questions and mistakes are allowed – is the responsibility of the facilitator as well. Practices such as opening an activity with some ice-breakers, or setting common rules for respectful interactions… are therefore never wrong.

Our values

At this stage, it is obvious that we can’t think of adult education with disadvantaged learners without taking in consideration some key values. 

Here are the core values upon which our educational model is built:

  • Equity 
  • Active citizenship
  • Participation
  • Departing from the experience of the learners
  • Addressing the needs of the learners
  • Contextualisation of the issues addressed in the project
  • Interactivity, learners are encouraged to contribute
  • Degrowth education 
  • Not to be invasive
  • Bottom-up
  • Non-patronising
  • Inclusive approach
  • Social cohesion
  • Solidarity
  • Sustainability
  • Environmental values

Bite size learning tools as pedagogical answer 

Due to their format, the Bite Size Learning tools (BSL) are ideal when working with any kind of learners with disadvantages.  They can encompass all the aforementioned methodologies in a very handy and effective way – applying the concept of “simple is better”.

Bite-size learning tools can be used in micro-trainings and social networks: they are short, they can be informal – perfect to be adapted in the garden or outdoor locations. They can be developed and practiced in a very short time, adapted to the target group of learners.  They are designed to be highly participative and have a short-term impact. They can tackle any topic, and bring basic knowledge about social permaculture in a very entertaining way…

The advantages are numerous. That is why we chose to develop a set of BSL for social permaculture in community gardens: in order to provide handy materials to any educator, project leader, neighbour, anyone willing to make their community garden more participative and spread the core values of permaculture.

We will publish the Bite-size learning tools on our website

…so stay tuned!

Sources

Download the entire Educational Model: click here >>