Overall Evaluation This was a good session with positive feedback from the class and the instructors, and some areas to make improvements upon. The design stood up well in its implementation, and the session fulfilled its overall aims. Of particular note were the excellent levels of engagement achieved, I did however not always implement the intended design, for example when I gave information about Open Space at the worng time in the session, leading to confusion amongst the class. In addition I will work on trying to reign in discussions if I need to keep the session moving to meet the flexible timescales set for the session.
Implementing the Session Implementation of the session took place in June 2012 at the Apricot Centre, as planned. On the day, the actual session time given was 60 minutes to take the day up to lunchtime at 1 o'clock. The session over-ran by about 15 minutes.
Self-evaluation of the Session This section will relate the actual session to the implementation plan, describing the reality.
1. Explain what food choices are. Fine. Conveyed the difference between direct and indirect links.
2. Brainstorm as a group different food choices onto post-its. Lots of ideas generated.
3. Bring-up any obvious missing choices, and add some facts to quantify and emphasise any key points. Brought in the idea of subscription farming, which is similar to CSA model, which many had not heard of.
4. Select a food choice from the brainstormed list and describe it, inviting a student to do so if this feels appropiate. The teacher or assistant is to capture the conversation via a mind map At this point, a lot of discussion was generated that spanned many different food choices rather than focussing in on one as was the intention. The discussion were lively and opinionated and I was of the mind to let them flow, but ultimately this part of the session consumed so much time that it left little room for the remaining food choices.
5. Relate that food choice to permaculture ethics, taking the opportunity to recap the ethics. Take the post-it and place it in the ethics venn diagram. I was hoping that the students would playback their understanding of ethics since we were near the end of the course, but when invited no-one came forward. Trying to summarise this myself quite challenging, and I need to be more prepared to talk about ethics in future sessions.
However, relating the food choice to ethics generated alot of discussion and differing opinions, since some variants of it could be thought of as Earthcare whereas others not. The group agreed that the in order to confidently apply an ethic to some context, that context would need to be well-defined and specific. For example, shopping in the big supermarkets is probably not generally perceived to be 'Earthcare', whereas it could be for shopping in a big supermarkets for local organic fruit in a town one is travelling through and unfamiliar with, and therefore local relationships have not been established with growers. This effectively highlighted the use of permaculture ethiocs as a thinking tool to employ when making choices from a permacultural perspective.
6. Form 3 – 5 open space style huddles from the remaining food choices At this point I unintentionaly started discussing Open Space. The idea was to just do it, and then talk about the fact that they had practiced this technique in a general summary at the end. Nevertheless, students formed into groups to talk about freeganism, CSA's and organic standards. There was not much time for free movement between huddles, although one group did wind down allowing particpants to join other discussions. At this point, the overall session overran into lunchtime, which I let run its course for a while since the engagement levels were high.
7. Present back scribed materials to the group. 2 mins max, including relation to permaculture ethics.
This did not really happen since we had gone over time. Instead we had a quick go at allocating the food choice to ethics. Then I encouraged the class to browse at other people groups capture during the lunch break, and perhaps thing about allocating other food choices from the brainstorming exercise to the ethics.
8. Sum up, focus on food choices and permaculture ethics, and tell them about Open Space Technology Also did not happen, although I had already talked about Open Space.
Instructor Feedback Later the day the other tutors gave me some feedback on the session:
Teaching style was very natural and confident.
Good at facilitating discussion with great levels of engagement form the class.
Good coverage of material and relation to permaculture via ethics.
The sudden introduction of Open Space did appear to the tutors confuse the class a little who were focussing on food choices. I conceded that this was not my intention and that the plan was to bring this in at then end. The tutors felt that this would have been a better approach.