Perspective Prejudices Perception

I am both a keen learner of organic farming practices and an appreciator of alliteration and acronyms. Perhaps that is why a lesson I learned from notable farmer Eliot Coleman a decade ago has stuck with me: perspective prejudices perception (P-cubed). This idea has informed both our eco-renovation and my doctoral research on a permaculture approach to science education. One’s perspective on, say, the “waste stream” would determine one’s perception of, say, an apple core.
Where some see a piece of rubbish to send to the landfill, others see duck food or a compost ingredient. A holistic perspective informs much of what we do here from day to day practices to our design principles for the renovation. A holistic perspective contrasts with a reductionist perspective, which I believe is the dominant perspective of contemporary Western cultures, especially the USA, (and especially the Tea Party).
On the contrary, the original inhabitants of Turtle Island (North America) had a more holistic perspective often called the “Native American World View.” Similarly, it can be argued that traditional Maori had a more holistic perspective than most New Zealanders of European descent. A friend of mine told me about this short story on perspectives, growing your own food, self-sufficiency and the wisdom of many Maori elders.
Enjoy, Estwing


By Patricia Grace

The Grandmother plaited her granddaughter’s hair and then she said, “Get your lunch.

Put it in your bag. Get your apple. You come straight back after school, straight home here.

Listen to the teacher,” she said. “Do what she say.”

Her grandfather was out on the step. He walked down the path with her and out onto the

footpath. He said to a neighbor, “Our granddaughter goes to school. She lives with us now.”

“She’s fine,” the neighbor said. “She’s terrific with her two plaits in her hair.”

“And clever,” the grandfather said. “Writes every day in her book.”

“She’s fine,” the neighbor said.

The grandfather waited with his granddaughter by the crossing and then he said, “Go to

school. Listen to the teacher. Do what she say.”

When the granddaughter came home from school her grandfather was hoeing around the

cabbages. Her grandmother was picking beans. They stopped their work.

“You bring your book home?” the grandmother asked.


“You write your story?”


“What’s your story?”

“About the butterflies.”

“Get your book then. Read your story.”

The granddaughter took her book from her schoolbag and opened it.

“I killed all the butterflies,” she read. “This is me and this is all the butterflies.”

“And your teacher like your story, did she?”

“I don’t know.”

“What your teacher say?”

“She said butterflies are beautiful creatures. They hatch out and fly in the sun. The

butterflies visit all the pretty flowers, she said. They lay their eggs and then they die. You don’t

kill butterflies, that’s what she said.”

The grandmother and the grandfather were quiet for a long time, and their granddaughter,

holding the book, stood quite still in the warm garden.

“Because you see,” the grandfather said, “your teacher, she buy all her cabbages from the

supermarket and that’s why.”

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