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Trädgård i skolan - skola i trädgården

om skolträdgårdens funktion och betydelse i ett plats- och lärandeperspektiv

Åkerblom, Petter (2003). Trädgård i skolan - skola i trädgården. Alnarp : Sveriges lantbruksuniv. , Movium rapport, 1651-3401 ; 2003:1
ISBN 91-576-6555-9
[Licentiate thesis]

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The starting point for the research is my general interest of outdoor environments for children and youth in cities, and how these environments are (or could be) used for play, recreation and education from nursery to nine-year compulsory school. When the research work started I thought I was mainly interested in practical, school related and cultivation-orientated problems. But as my work advanced it was clear that my interest was broader. I became more interested in the interplay between places and learning in a general sense. Chapter 1: Introduction The aim of this work is to document and describe characteristics of use, impact and importance of existing school gardens and their relations to other education activities. The research questions are: A) What characterise the school garden as a place? B) What characterise learning in the school garden? C) In what ways can the school garden be interpreted both as a place and learning resource? I discuss and introduce the methods and material that have been used in the research process. The research work is dominated by qualitative methods. The “qualitative research interview” used for collecting empirical data in the field investigation is discussed in chapter 5. Chapter 2: The attributes of outdoor education Part of the research examines school gardening in relation to common outdoor education activities in Sweden and other countries. The study summaries the attributes of outdoor education found in Swedish literature. One general aspect of outdoor learning discussed is how outdoor education can be regarded both as a place for learning, an object of learning and a way of learning. My suggestion is that school gardening can be regarded in the same way. In a short historical retrospective the development from the first school gardens in Sweden, established in the beginning of the 19th century in the old elementary schools of Sweden is described. In spite of many educational arguments, often based on John Dewey and the pragmatism, practically all school gardens in Sweden were removed during the 1960’s. One important reason was the technical development in agriculture, food production and food distribution. It was not necessary for people to grow their own food themselves anymore. But in the 1970’s and 1980’s, with increasing environmental problems, a discussion started surrounding environmental education in schools. The school ground was now regarded as one of the educational opportunities for that purpose. Slowly the interest also increased for the school garden as an educational tool, a tool which could often be described as an ecological laboratory. By 1986 there were about 30 school gardens in Sweden. The same year a research project started at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences with the aim to study and develop methods for educational use of school gardens in Swedish primary schools. The three schools included in that project are a part of my field investigation in chapter 5. The research shows that during the last 200 years, there are two periods when school gardening is most popular; at the turn of the 20th century when peasant society was declining and industrial society was growing very fast, and 90-100 years later, when the industrial society is declining at the same time as the growth of “information society” is advancing. Chapter 3: Perspectives of places and learning This chapter is a discussion about connections and close points of similarities between learning regarded as a constantly on-going process; as a creative urge of the human being; as a human expression at striving for new situations, and places used for these purposes. Learning and creativity are discussed as two aspects of the same phenomenon and as two fundamental motives for the human being to understand and form the world she is a part of. By discussing the situated nature of learning, and learning in socio-cultural and pragmatic contexts, I focus on the need for using physical tools, intellectual/linguistic tools and communication for describing the characteristics of learning in outdoor situations. By discussing places in terms of “sense of place” and “a place is a space claimed by feelings”, I among other things want to focus on a way of looking at physical outdoor environments as relationships between humans and the landscape. With inspiration from Torsten Hägerstrand I discuss the place as a combination of space and time, the landscape as a visual expression of a tight weave of relations that allow or prevent courses of events. I also discuss how places respond to human activities and the use of places as a sort of design process. I also reflect on the interaction between humans, living organisms and the inertia. My conclusion is that there are several connections and similarities in the research of learning respectively research of places, such as: 1) Situation as an engine in learning and for the creative urge. 2) The creating of meaning. 3) The development of identity. 4) The development of thinking and knowledge in a situated and cultural context mediated by tools. 5) Communication between people, but also between people and the physical environments. My assumption is that the school garden can be regarded as a weave of relations between pupils and teachers in co-operation with the cultivated nature that allows or prevents courses of events. Chapter 4: The “where” of learning Based upon my observations in literature, Webb-sites, handbooks, journals and press cuttings from daily p0apers 1992-2002, the “where” of learning in school versus outside school is analysed. As shown in fig. 4 characteristics for four different qualitatively separated themes for place activities in school are clarified. The figure is a model of where such activities take place and shows how they differ from and relate to each other. “Text based practices” are often situated indoors. Pupils use books and Internet for learning about things, and at least in Sweden it is common that they very often just reproduce facts and information from these sources in their school work. The aim on projects in the school ground is often to make the outdoor environment more attractive for play, recreation and learning. The outdoor role of the pupil is to be a constructor or creator, for example in building benches, fences, ponds, planting trees and bushes, painting the asphalt or using the school ground for sculptures and other art work. In these place activities the pupils often participate in decisions, design and construction. School gardening is based on coming back to the same place over the year to maintain different sorts of crops. Teachers and pupil are managers with a responsibility for living plants. They act together with nature, where cultivated nature responds to the activities done in the cultivation areas. Field trips have a long tradition in Sweden, where teachers and pupils visit city environments, parks, cultural landscapes, historical places and nature outside the school. These kinds of visits, as is common for tourists, are mainly based on participation by looking and observing rather than by doing. Chapter 5: School gardening in practice Six schools are included in the field investigation. Each school is, or has been working, in cultivation activities with children that are 5-12 years old. One of the schools is British; Coombes School in Arborfield near Reading. The school is quite well known abroad for their holistic approach to education both outdoor and indoor, for the fascinating school grounds and for their teaching and learning methods (Olsson, et al. 2003). The Swedish schools are spread out all over the whole of country with different opportunities for school gardening. They are all common Swedish compulsory schools. Three of them were included in the project mentioned previously. The fifth school is a Rudolf Steiner school with school gardening stated as a subject in the local curriculum. The sixth school is special as they have extensions of cultivating potatoes and onions enough to feed the schools 60 pupils all the year around. The field investigation is composed of 19 research interviews and 4 other recorded conversations. The results are divided and discussed in two themes; what the interviewees say about the school garden as a place respectively as a learning resource. WHAT IS TOLD ABOUT THE SCHOOL GARDEN AS A PLACE? Some of the statements shown in the interviews are characterised by: - School gardening need professional organisation and management. The board of the school should in general be more active, and the school garden should not be placed outside the school grounds. - The school garden is regarded as a classroom, living library, laboratory, scene and virtual room (in computers and pupils minds) with opportunities to make school subjects come alive. - The school garden is a model for the productive culture landscape, and a producing landscape, a base for cooking and handicraft. It is a place where the children participate in building ecological cycles and have opportunities to understand more about sustainable development. - The school garden is a place for health and well-being. It is a place where you must work slowly. The school garden means fresh air, beauty and a place for city kids to be connected with nature. - Identity; practical, creative work in the garden as a way of establishing a relationship to places and to nature. To give identity to the garden at the same time as the garden becomes a part of the child’s identity. WHAT IS TOLD ABOUT THE SCHOOL GARDEN AS LEARNING? Some of the statements shown in the interviews are characterised by: - School gardening as a process and a “trampoline” to knowledge, places and environments outside the school grounds. - Learning in different levels, where the point is to combine practical garden work with more theoretical reflections. School gardening stimulates learning also in the classroom. All sorts of children like gardening. As teacher you can never know from the beginning who will enjoy or benefit from school gardening. - The professional role as teacher is changing after working with school gardening on regards to development of how knowledge, and developing teaching and learning strategies. But there is also need for more teacher training, more time for planning with colleagues and more “green support” from the community outside school. - School gardening means more and new opportunities in education, in thematic work and in teaching school subjects. It is easier to explain and explore in ways that books cannot provide. School gardening is learning by doing. It is easy to work with “sharing and caring” principles for sustainability with the school garden as a starting point. - School gardening results in new social roles. For example it is more obvious in the school garden that teachers learn together with children more than in the classroom. That means that teachers become more like a co-discoverer outdoors than indoors. Chapter 6: The function and importance of school gardens The results from the field investigation are compared to the theoretical reflections in chapter 3. How the interviewees talk about the school as place and learning resources is discussed. The aim is to characterise some opinions among teachers about school gardening as a phenomenon. The discussion focuses on three main perspectives. 1. THE SCHOOL GARDEN AS A TOOL FOR NEW TEACHING AND LEARNING STRATEGIES Teachers understand the school garden as an opportunity to challenge their teaching methods and at the same time as an instrument for testing new requirements and methods for children’s learning. They also understand school gardening as an opportunity to take care of students’ curiosity and the asking questions. Focus in teaching is changing from a teacher centred detailed planning to more pupil centred work. Teachers also understand the school garden as a place, object and way of learning. They see the child as a part of what’s happening in the garden. The teachers also understand school gardening as interaction and interplay between practical work and theoretical reflection. Success in teaching is understood as being successful when using practical garden work as a source of inspiration in other school activities. But success also is a question about regarding individual experiences in the garden (without teaching) as important as well. 2. THE SCHOOL GARDEN AS A SOCIAL HUB Teachers opinion about school gardening is an opportunity for children to express and present themselves in new ways. School gardening promotes varieties of social situations leading to new social relationships between teachers and pupils, pupils and other pupils and pupils and relatives helping the children in the cultivation activities. Teachers also understand the school garden as a focal point between the school and other parts of the municipality. They also understand the school garden as a reason to establish such contacts. But their opinion is also that some of the actors outside school should take a greater responsibility for administration and organising the garden work, to guarantee that school gardening can continue from one year to another. 3. THE SCHOOL GARDEN BOTH AS ACTOR AND A STORY When a school garden is laid out children and adults begin to take care of their school surroundings in new ways. They who use and own the school garden load it with meaning and importance. Teachers and pupils act in the school garden; they sow and plant in the spring; water and weed in the summer; and pick flowers until that season is over. The garden responds to the work that is done. Plants, animals and the place itself “talk” to the children. The school garden becomes a language, at the very least a kind of communication between the place and the people who belong to the place. Practical garden work increases the beauty of the school ground. The creative work and approach to the school garden is appropriated into the local culture of the school over time. It becomes a local culture with educational and recreational aims in which children and teachers of the school can participate. The impression of the school garden is linked to a specific place where people from one year to another interact in physical and social actions, with regards to the place as an actor. And where there are actors a story can start growing. My conclusion is that there are at least three main aspects of the function and importance of school gardens: 1) People always relate themselves to places. People establish these relationships by personal experiences on site. 2) People always use creative actions as a driving force. The aim is to understand and form the world they live in and are a part of. School gardening is a vehicle for knowledge through interactive learning, as apposed to a passive approach to learning. 3) The situated dialogue between people and places, and the drama developing from maintenance and the influences of the status of the soil, sunshine, wind, rain, animals, pest and diseases, lead to the conclusion that the school garden is both an actor and a story at the same time. Children and adults are all embedded in the same drama communicating with friends, but also with other living organisms and inert objects. From a more pragmatic point of view the garden is a story about cultivation as culture. The school garden provides means to understand ecological systems and cultivation – especially for children living in urban environments.

Authors/Creators:Åkerblom, Petter
Title:Trädgård i skolan - skola i trädgården
Subtitle:om skolträdgårdens funktion och betydelse i ett plats- och lärandeperspektiv
Series Name/Journal:Movium rapport
Year of publishing :May 2003
Number of Pages:166
Place of Publication:Alnarp
ISBN for printed version:91-576-6555-9
Publication Type:Licentiate thesis
Full Text Status:Public
Agris subject categories.:P Natural resources > P01 Nature conservation and land resources
Subjects:Not in use, please see Agris categories
Agrovoc terms:public parks, school children, teaching, landscape gardening, planning, landscaping, social behaviour
Keywords:landskapsplanering, pedagogik, utomhuspedagogik, lärande, skolträdgård, plats, learning, outdoor education, place, school gardening, school grounds
Permanent URL:
ID Code:281
Department:?? 4050 ??
Deposited By: Petter Åkerblom
Deposited On:07 May 2003 00:00
Metadata Last Modified:02 Dec 2014 10:03

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