Children do not do what we tell them to, they do as we do
The above given sentence can serve as a motto for all educational efforts in the basic school! This group is aimed for pupils from preschool up to the age of twenty. Due to the huge differences between the pupils of different ages the module is divided into three subgroups. From one period to the other the child gain new abilities but at the same time they also lose something. An experience in an earlier period can therefore not fully be replaced in a later period. To experience with the eyes of a child is just as important as to experience with the eyes of a teenager.
During this period the child has a naïve ability to imitate what somebody else is doing. The activities of animals and human beings are immediately turned into a play and imitated in a most vivid way.
Especially in preschool it is important that the child experiences adults working within the well-known school premises, as the school garden or kitchen. For the preschool child the regular visits by the vegetable gardener delivering potatoes and carrots to the school can be a moment of thrill high lightening the fact that there is an interesting world also outside of school
It is important that the child during the first nine years of its life sees adults working with nature in a devoted and skilled manner. The ideal situation is if this work takes place on an everyday basis in the school garden and in the school kitchen. To keep small animals like hens or rabbits in this garden will give the child a possibility to experiences important for the future understanding of the role of animals in nature. If possible it is very valuable if the child can assist in the kitchen with minor tasks.
The experiences during the first nine years in life are vital not only for the future understanding but also for the future dedication to take part in development of the society.
During this period the child take an active part in everything that happens. Curiosity is a key word and it needs to nourished. Voluntarily assisting the gardener or chef in their daily work can give the child important impulses and skills for the future.
During their first years in school the children are assisted into the work in garden and kitchen by professional teachers. The garden and the kitchen is a natural part of the classroom for the pupils. Learning to work in nature and with food is experienced as just as important as to study mathematics or language. If properly introduced visits to professional gardens and farms can build important bridges to the world outside of school.
To maintain the natural curiosity of the child and to develop it into a vivid enthusiasm for the work with nature and food is an important task when educating children in the age between seven and thirteen.
Introducing environmental issues to teenagers is a challenge.
The knowledge of the environmental problems facing humanity was established several decades ago. Since then the severity of the situation has increased dramatically. Being a teenager of today it’s easy to lose hope when confronted with the insights on how little that has been achieved in relation to the dimension of the problems.
During this period the teenager wants to understand facts in their relation to reality. The work in school needs to be for real; it needs to be connected with the society outside of the school.
The pupils want to take part and to be taken seriously. The teenager wants to discover, see through and reveal out of his or her own activity. The pupils want to investigate; they want to put facts into a bigger picture. During this age the pupils need to practise their ability to make judgement. In this handicraft and work with nature can be of vital importance.
In this educational material we have focused on different abilities needed to implement a positive development. Besides giving the pupils the necessary knowledge we find it important to also stimulate the enthusiasm, excitement and creativity. We do this by letting the pupils meet, and work together with, grownups that have engaged themselves in the environmental questions and have implemented what we call a “good example”.
A good example can be constituted by:
A farmer implementing the ERA principles on a piece of land
A group of consumers trying to find new relations to food producers
A shop manager trying to connect producers and consumers of food in new ways
Confronted with several such good examples, and the humans connected to them, we are aiming to give the students the first aspects of:
Knowledge and understanding on how the everyday life of the individual is connected to the environment
An experience based, individual, relation to nature
Practical experiences on working with nature and together with other people
Self-confidence to face the personal challenge regarding the students own lifestyle
Knowledge and skills to become creative in cooperation with nature
Sometimes learning by your mistakes is the best way to improve your individual skills and this is especially important during this period in life.
Educational activities in the different ages
Examples of exercises, lessons or activities that can be performed during basic school education
Education is given using different approaches like lectures, discussions, workshops, social gatherings, excursions, exhibitions and practical exercises. The didactical method uses actual events or theory that can be illustrated in the real world as an incubator for questions and new viewpoints. Special emphasis must be put by authentic example and inspire the students to use all five senses in a way characteristic of outdoor pedagogics. This approach uses observations as a starting point for posing questions about observed events and learning comes from the process of explaining and gathering knowledge shifting between theory and practical work.
The main aim of this module is to verbalise the farmers own “silent”, hand held knowledge. This knowledge is a result of the daily work in the garden, on the land or with the animals. To communicate this practical experience is the task of the farmers university.
Example of exercises and activities to formulate and communicate and the silent knowledge; Group activities, study circles, visit each other farms, be invited as lecturer, having apprentices, being part of a learning programme, receiving study visits, contributing to a newsletter, making minor research project.