Learning by doing

Lessons every manday


VESTBYGD SKOLEAVIS

Vi have lessons every day.

Here follows an article som I found on

www.gspr.no:

Living School

-The farm as a pedagogical resource –

In Norway there is a quickly growing movement to develop a contract between farms and schools which want to work together. How this has happened and how the work is organized is briefly presented in the following article.

Point of departure

“How can we contribute to fostering hope, courage and resolve in children in order for them to be able to participate in a productive way in the forming of their surroundings?” This was our question at the University of Agriculture in Norway in 1995. More concretely, the goal was to create pedagogical spaces in which a committed, caring and continuous work with nature could occur to enable an experience of connection and belonging.

National project

Thus started the national project “Living School” (1995-2000) in which examples of such spaces could be developed. On the one hand there were eight schools which used the school grounds as an extension of the classroom – with gardening as an essential part. On the other, there were eight farms which developed an intensive cooperation with neighboring schools to allow the pupils to participate in caretaking of nature on a larger scale.

New curriculum in the schools

The Norwegian government, mostly through the Department of Education and the Department of Agriculture, supported this project with 1 million Euro. The school authorities welcomed this initiative especially because they were in the process of revamping the school curriculum in the direction of more “outside” work with direct experience and participation in practical tasks.  As the “how” in this goal was still the subject for inquiry, we were met with open arms as we presented our ideas and methods.

Results

The eight selected farms are spread over the whole of Norway. The University helped in taking contact with schools and regional authorities, the latter in regard to economic support. Conferences of all participants as well as a newsletter enabled exchange of experience and further development.

Each farm developed its own “model” in respect to the needs and financial frames of their school partners as well as their own possibilities – both agriculturally and with regard to human resources.

The common goal is to make possible continuous contact between the pupils and the farm so that a matter-of-fact familiarity in relationship to the animals and the work at the farm can arise. A close contact to the teachers is cultivated so that the activities on the farm really become a part of the regular curriculum. 

In contrast to what school/farm connections have been in the past, this is not seen as an opportunity to disseminate information about farming. Neither is the goal to let the children see a demonstration of agricultural work and life. The emphasis is being laid in participation over time which will allow a greater identification and provide an alternative arena for children of different capabilities to use their talents.

New examples at the level of local governments

The example-farms and their partner schools also found different economical solutions. Yet still there is a pressing need to find local and regional models for financing such school/farm links. For example, local governments could look at the economy tied to “repair” in educational and health budgets and see if something more can be channeled into the category of prevention.  Development of such a model began in spring 2002, (read: “Out with the blackboard, in with the cow”) in the region of Northern Trondelag.

Training and education courses

The advisory work with the eight example farms and schools is most fruitful when their experience can be given further to others. Since 1999 there have been courses for farmers and teachers who wish to work together. In the course of one year the participants – preferably in pre-formed farmer/teacher groups – have the task to plan a concrete project, to execute the first stages and to evaluate their experience.  During this time there are three, three day sessions for exchange, coursing and advisory work. Here the participants receive new impulses for pedagogical work, organization and financing. Between sessions there is individual supervision and written assignments.

Further challenges

The training courses are seen as the first step towards a continual development of quality in the projects. More and different types of courses must be developed.

Unfortunately it is still much easier to finance curative education at farms than general education. It must be shown that by investing in the general education needs which can be met in part through farm/school cooperation,  the future curative needs (for example, drop-outs, delinquents etc.) will lessen.

We need to connect our work with work in other lands in a network where we can encourage and support initiatives regardless of national boundaries.

Kristina Parow and Linda Jolly April 2003

In the vinter are we working with wool.

Report of a trip visiting farms i Nordland

Report of a trip visiting farms i Nordland

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