Activity Introduction

Quick summary: In this lesson, students will explore the ethics and principles of permaculture. They will begin by looking at how permaculture evolved to address some of the environmental and social challenges of conventional agriculture. Students then work to create a Venn diagram that incorporates the ethics and principles of permaculture, after which they will work in groups to investigate one principle in depth. They will then share their knowledge of this principle with the class. Although this lesson can be taught by itself, it also forms the first part in a unit of 6 lessons that can be delivered in sequence to take your students through a complete permaculture project design process.

These lessons have been created in partnership with Faber-Castell, which has long understood the importance of creativity to all people, especially to young people. It is also continuously searching for environmentally friendly processes and high-quality materials to enhance children’s creative experience throughout every development phase. For more information about Faber-Castell, click here.

Learning intentions:

  • Students will know about the principles of permaculture.
  • Students will understand how ethics relate to permaculture.
  • Students will understand how permaculture differs from conventional forms of agriculture.

21st century skills:

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions: 

Year 7 & 8 Design and Technologies

  • Analyse how food and fibre are produced when designing managed environments and how these can become more sustainable (ACTDEK032
  • Investigate the ways in which products, services and environments evolve locally, regionally and globally and how competing factors including social, ethical and sustainability considerations are prioritised in the development of technologies and designed solutions for preferred futures (ACTDEK029)

Year 9 & 10 Design and Technologies

  • Critically analyse factors, including social, ethical and sustainability considerations, that impact on designed solutions for global preferred futures and the complex design and production processes involved (ACTDEK040)
  • Investigate and make judgments on the ethical and sustainable production and marketing of food and fibre (ACTDEK044)

Syllabus outcomes: D&T5.3.1, D&T5.3.2, D&T5.3.2 and SC4-13ES, T4.1.2, T4.1.3, T4.4.1, T4.6.2

General capabilities: Critical and Creative Thinking, Ethical Understanding

Cross-curriculum priority: Sustainability 

Relevant parts of Year 7 & 8 achievement standards: Students explain how social, ethical, technical and sustainability considerations influence the design of innovative and enterprising solutions to meet a range of present and future needs. They explain how the features of technologies influence design and production decisions.

Relevant parts of Year 9 & 10 achievement standards: Students explain how people working in design and technologies occupations consider factors that impact on design decisions and the technologies used to produce products, services and environments. 

Topic: Sustainability

Unit of work: Creative Sustainability – Exploring Permaculture – Design & Technology – Years 7 – 10

Time required: 60 mins.

Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium – facilitate class discussion

Resources required: Students’ workbooks. Equipment to show a short clip. Student Worksheet – one copy per student.

permaculture, gardening, food, fibre, agriculture, principles, ethics, Venn diagram, Faber-Castell.

Cool Australia’s curriculum team continually reviews and refines our resources to be in line with changes to the Australian Curriculum.


Teacher Worksheet

Teacher Preparation

Learning intentions: Students will...

  • ...know about the principles of permaculture.
  • ...understand how ethics relate to permaculture.
  • ...understand how permaculture differs from conventional forms of agriculture.

Success criteria: Students can…

  • ...describe the principles of permaculture.
  • ...relate information on a Venn diagram to permaculture design.
  • collaboratively to explore the twelve permiculture principles. 
  • ...engage in class discussions and provide feedback for their peers.

Teacher content information: Although it can be taught in isolation, this lesson also forms the first part in a unit of 6 lessons, designed to introduce permaculture thinking to your design class and to encourage them to consider the ethical impacts of their own work as designers. To allow flexibility for you and your students, this unit is designed so that you can work through all 6 lessons in sequence, choose only a number of them, or use one individuall

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Student Worksheet

Thought Starter: By taking the time to look at and engage with nature we can design solutions that suit our particular situation.

Principles of Permaculture

  1. Observe and Interact
  2. Catch and Store Energy
  3. Obtain a Yield
  4. Apply Self Regulation and Accept Feedback
  5. Use and Value Renewable Resources and Services
  6. Produce No Waste
  7. Design From Patterns to Details
  8. Integrate, Don’t Segregate
  9. Use Small and Slow Solutions
  10. Use and Value Diversity
  11. Use the Marginal
  12. Creatively Use and Respond to Change

Analysing the Principles

Now, find the questions below related to your chosen principle. Remember to only answer the questions related to your principle.

1. Observe and Interact Activities:

a. Imagine that this is your garden. Observe it closely before you do plant anything.

What words could you use to describe this environment?

Now, choose which plants you think will grow well here. Circle the ones you think will thrive in the garden based on your observations.

  • Ca
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