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Seeds

Once the children have headed back to their classroom after the seed saving lesson, I ask Jennie about the motivation behind collecting seeds and its emergence as such a significant part of the gardening programme.

It's difficult to teach kids about sustainability. Kids don't make decisions based on thinking about the future, they do it for the here and now, but you can help them set a pattern. I try to explain that we're doing this in our garden learning because it teaches us to be sustainable; it's about sustainability. We had all these beautiful snow peas growing recently and we picked them for the kitchen and we picked them because they tasted yummy and then I had to say, no more, we have to leave them. We need to save these seeds because if we don't we won't have any next year. And so we talked about the relevance of saving some. As much as we'd love to eat them all, they'd be gone. You can do these things and they pick it up without you saying too much. They learn through osmosis rather than strict lessons.

The significance of seeds and the concept of seed saving that feature throughout children's reflections of garden learning belong to a suite of sustainability curriculum endeavours that are deliberately designed to draw children's attention to new and different ways of understanding and existing in the world. Jennie's pedagogic approach highlights to the children the importance of postponing their gratification as a way of keeping something for later. Children are reminded that if the peas are not all eaten at the one time they can be harvested and used for next season's crops. Children understand the concept, as illustrated by Aluka who describes the capacity of a seed to be recycled and used again and again in the future, with the added advantage of not having to buy plants. Jennie helps students to modify their thinking and actions so they can take into account the importance of using what is already available in a resourceful way, but more specifically how resources can be saved and safeguarded. When I ask Jennie if the children would have eaten the whole crop of peas had she not intervened, she seemed to think they would have, suggesting: 'here and now, that's all kids are about. They don't see the benefits, the long-term benefits of [sustainability], that's not what kids are about'. By stepping in and encouraging them to reconsider their actions, Jennie sets the pattern that alerts children to the repercussions of a particular action and encourages them to stop, think and act with the future in mind.

 
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