Many of the skills that our grandparents took for granted have disappeared or are on the verge of being lost forever. This is partly due to the process of modernisation. In the last four decades we have mechanised and industrialised almost every system we depend on, and these systems are completely dependent on fossil fuels. As oil prices reach record highs and awareness of climate change sinks in, we will have to rethink how we do almost everything without the cheap and abundant oil that now underpins our society.
Facilitating a ‘great reskilling’ is the 8th step in the Transition process which I introduced in last month’s new and improved Positive Life. When you consider the skills we have lost or the new skills we will need to cope with the changes ahead, a reskilling is becoming very necessary.
In a nutshell the Transition process is about rebuilding community resilience in the face of climate change and energy uncertainty. One of the most useful things a Transition project can do is to reverse the “great deskilling” which has taken place over the last 40 years by offering training. Many Transition Initiatives around the country are offering an ongoing series of workshops and courses. If we are to respond to peak oil and climate change by moving to a lower energy future and relocalising our communities, then we’ll need many of the skills that our grandparents took for granted.
Essential skills many have lost include the growing and harvesting of fruit and vegetables, fixing things, building things and the storing and preserving of food. How we eat seasonally again is also a skill that most of us could do with a course on. New skills like ‘Permaculture’, which is a design system for creating sustainable human environments, is something everyone could benefit from learning about.
Cultivate’s activities and efforts to date have shown that there is an information gap around climate and energy issues, particularly in regard to adaptation measures and the responses we can make as individuals and communities. Cultivate’s ‘Skilling Up For Powerdown’ course provides students with the context of the global crises we face and offers pathways and a set of tools that will enable them and their communities to make an informed response. The course builds capacity for active citizenship at the local level and an awareness of our responsibilities as global citizens.
In E.F. Schumacher’s classic book ‘Good Work’ he identifies three purposes of human work: to produce necessary and useful goods and services; to enable us to use and perfect our gifts and skills; and to serve, and collaborate with, other people, so as to “liberate ourselves from our inborn egocentricity.”
Learning to do more with less will be essential in the years to come. Rediscovering lost abilities to solve problems and to work cooperatively alongside other people are essential skills we will have to nurture in a future that is rapidly approaching.
Later this year, Cultivate proposes to examine the education we will need to respond to the challenges of sustainability in the face of climate change. This two-day event entitled, ‘Rethinking Education in the face of Climate Change’ will bring together leading International and National education practitioners from the formal and informal sectors. For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org