Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Narrowing the focus with 'Me as a Teacher'

“I began to realize how important it was to be an enthusiast in life. He taught me that if you are interested in something, no matter what it is, go at it at full speed ahead. Embrace it with both arms, hug it, love it and above all become passionate about it. Lukewarm is no good. Hot is no good either. White hot and passionate is the only thing to be.”
Roald Dahl, My Uncle Oswald

Personally I believe that to be a truly effective teacher, you need to instill passion and enthusiasm in your learners to be able to bring about some type of change in their life. Because for me, that's what learning is - change.

I am currently working in a People & Development role (fancy name for HR), which although facilitates training, does not actually conduct any training or teaching. Am I passionate about it the way Road Dahl describes above? No. No I am not. I couldn't convey enthusiasm even if I tried as I am coming from an empty pot , there is nothing left to give!

But what is my passion? This is a question that reverts back to my very core, my very essence, one I have been continually asking of myself.  Varshavskaya (2014) poses the question to ask oneself as 'what I would be interested in doing if money were of no concern'. My Nautropath gets me to think about my passion when she asks 'what is it that makes your heart sing?' (I kinda like the visual of my heart singing).

For me the answer is a no brainer, but at the same time, is  fraught with issues surrounding economic, parental, political and if I'm really honest, fear.

If money were no object, I would be working in a permaculture role from home, teaching others how to do it for themselves.  Perhaps start a seed business to sell online through my blog. Become interested in natural healing using herbs from my garden.Teach people to not rely on others but to be able to give the confidence to others to be able to do it for themselves. I could talk about this topic all day long, I could be researching it til 'the cows come home', I often find myself saying 'Did you know that...' or 'I watched/read/thought about this today and it got me thinking about...'. Like I said, a no brainer for me.

But what is the demand for people to learn this type of information? Is there a market for teaching skills in this area?

I have been interested to read about what others from the course are planning to do.Charm is exploring her use of ICT in supporting teachers, Rebecca White is expanding ICT and NGL with her Yr 4s, Bec is looking at it from a higher education perspective, Sharon from a secondary education perspective Lisa is looking at html and javascript from a LMS perspective, and I am glad Al that you are having similar issues to me in identifying the 'teaching' aspect!

I do feel a little lost compared to others in this course as I am not coming from a current teaching background.  I have considered looking at my 'teaching' aspect as it is described in theassignment requirements - 'to help someone learn' - with the view for this to turn into more formal teaching in the future. 

To expand on my adventures in teaching within a NETGL environment, I feel I can now respond to these questions more adequately;

What is your role as a teacher? Who are your students? What is the context? 
  • focus teaching strategies on small scale permaculture to beginners (most established permaculture sites are on larger acreage/small farms or small urban blocks)
  • to facilitate learning opportunities for our climate in the Yass Valley, whilst understanding the upcoming climate challenges
  • Initially, this teaching will be to a 'set' of learners, as described by  Dron & Anderson 2014 and could possibly include ,networks' to get the initial knowledge of my existence 'out there'. It would not be as specific as a group. I guess I will be appealing to the 'lurkers' (those that read but do not participate in electronic discussions) as described by Gray (1999).
 What role does NGL currently play in that context? 
  •  Permaculture Design Course online opportunities
  • Numerous 'experts' in the permaculture field with substantially more experience than me (See some of the videos posted by Geoff Lawnton )  and Bill Mollinson 'Global Gardener' TV series on YouTube.
  • Excellent knowledge sharing through forums  
How do you think NGL might help? 
  • Use blog as basis to attract people and for the name to be seen on other blogs
  • Attract people to formal courses (long term goal)
  • Be able to comment on other local blogs/information and gain credibility by linking/commenting with others on social media
  • Gain credibility by demonstrating knowledge
  • Potential to connect with other practitioners from similar climates in other parts of Australia and even the world.
What difficulties might you face with implementation?
  • Credibility as a teacher, not well known in the area for this type of teaching 
  • How the 'me' can shine through online (potential for videos?)
  • Unsure how I can incorporate all the different learning styles in an online environment
 I still have a lot to tease out in relation to this topic and especially within a NETGL setting but it is a start :)

The Wild Fermenter

After doing some more research into this sauerkraut business, I stumbled across the 'superstar' of the fermenting world - Sandor Katz. He has written the book 'The Art of Fermentation' and maintains the Wild Fermentation website.

The youtube video I  have linked to below is a very interesting watch if you have the time. Here I am focussing on the cabbage to the sauerkraut transformation, hopefully getting to an edible end product, with little thought for the actual process.

In the video Katz talks about microbes, and bacteria in particular, and how our bodies are made up of over a trillion of the little guys, each with their own distinct colonies in different parts of the body. These bacteria, according to Katz, actually outnumber the genetic material in our body 10:1.

What is even more interesting is the connection between the bacteria on the food we consume and the interaction with bacteria in the gut. Although gut bacteria is a hot topic in research circles at the moment, with gut bacteria and its functions linked with autism, and other diseases such as cancer, bowel issues, obesity, diabetes and asthma, it is still an area under researched and not fully understood.

Fermenting foods, like sauerkraut, is the pre-digesting of the food by microbes. Katz claims by eating fermenting foods you are enriching the bacteria in your gut by providing different genetic bacteria material to the existing colonies of bacteria in your gut.

Combine this with organic cabbage, like the ones growing in my veggie patch, with no pesticides or chemicals added, there will be *hopefully* more natural bacteria on the cabbages, and therefore an even healthier or more diverse population of bacteria in the end product? Well one can hope.

I hope you enjoy the video.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Commencing the Sauerkraut learning journey

I am taking it waaaay back to the beginning of sauerkraut making. Here are my little babies :) Homegrown organic cabbages - although I am having doubts as to whether these will be large enough to use by the end of the course!

Although these ones look a little bit eaten! (They are mixed in with the broad beans)

I have begun my search into making sauerkraut from scratch, and luckily today these posts came across my Facebook news-feed (isn't it freaky how technology is now preempting your thoughts before you have even enlisted Google's help!). The first is from Nourished Kitchen. I really like this website as they have some good information and recipes that come across the news feeds. She mentions using a crock like these ones to ferment however, I am not particularly fond of paying a huge amount of money for something I am not too sure we are even going to use! But gives a good indication of the actual process to go through.

I then stumbled across this website from the Kitchn on how to ferment sauerkraut using Mason jars. This sounds a much better solution at this point in my fermenting travels as I have an abundance of these jars from when I preserve sauces and stocks. Also I have read that using smaller jars is better as you are not constantly opening a large fermented jar and contaminating the contents.

I really need to do some more research into how to not let them go mouldy.