|Views of gardening|
|Gardening is a pleasure for some people, but for others it is a reminder of a traumatic past.|
In some places gardening is regarded as a worthwhile job and a fascinating pastime. In others it is seen as low-status manual work. Sometimes agricultural work may even be associated with colonialism or slavery. In some cases school gardening has acquired a bad name because children have been put to work as punishment or just to cultivate the teacher’s maize plot.
However, most parents and caregivers appreciate the value of school gardening on a practical level. They can see that children gain practical skills, knowledge and life skills which will help them to look after themselves and their families in the future. Schools are also recognizing that children involved in school gardening actually learn better in all subjects.
When gardening is not seen as a chore, it is deeply motivating in itself. Garden lovers are never tired of seeing the shoots come up, tasting the season’s crops, experimenting with new plants and new methods, battling against pests and diseases. The best motivation is this sense of achievement. However, other motivations may be needed to fight prejudice, to draw students in to discovering the real pleasure of growing things, or just to keep going through the less exciting garden tasks.
If there is a negative attitude to gardening in the school or community, schools may have to work to create motivation. They can do this by showing the value of what they are doing and conveying their belief in it. If, on the other hand, there is enthusiasm at the outset, it may still be necessary to maintain motivation, since garden projects last a long time and involve some repetitive work.
These are some of the reasons why good garden managers keep motivation in mind.
A. MOTIVATION FOR ALL
Everyone needs motivating. Keep everyone interested with an annual programme of events to do with the garden. Publicise the programme with a poster or an illustrated calendar. For example:
Have a groundbreaking ceremony or a garden “opening”.
Celebrate the main garden events (planting, harvesting) and have visits and Open Days.
Celebrate special national and international days (see the Box on the next page).
Get students to create posters about foods, crops, garden projects, insects, compost, etc. and to make poster presentations to their own classes, other classes and visitors.
Have a Carrot Day or a Cabbage Day (or Pumpkin Day or Bean Day) when the crops are at their peak (see the Box on the next page).
Provide refreshments for all events. In working sessions make a break for a snack and a chat. Ask helpers to bring some food or drink to share, and grow something in the garden for snacks. Take the lead in showing children how to present and serve food agreeably.
|Special days||Ideas for Carrot Day|
|(C. Ssekyewa, personal communication, 2003)|
B. MOTIVATION FOR TEACHERS AND GARDEN MANAGERS
What motivates teachers, school staff and garden managers? For them the garden may be any or all of these things:
a special responsibility with appropriate compensation in time or pay;
a source of pride and commendation from head teachers and local education authorities;
something they can put on their CVs/résumés;
a way of bringing new life to lessons;
a way to gain skills and qualifications in gardening, nutrition education, etc.;
a way of bringing the whole school together in a common interest;
a way of enjoying fresh healthy food.
Make sure that some of these are true in your school. For example:
talk to the education authority about certificated training courses in gardening, garden management, nutrition and project work;
organize informal training using local garden experts (they will be flattered to be asked);
get in touch with other schools with gardens and try to get funds for a workshop on gardens;
arrange a competition with other schools for the best lesson plan centring on the garden
adopt a theme (e.g. water, corn) and discuss how to integrate it across the curriculum.
Of course, you too need to feel appreciated. Make sure your garden group and your head teacher know what is going on. If your garden is a credit to the school, the local education authority will come to visit, and will bring other visitors. Your fame will grow: you may even have to cope with envy! If there are press mentions and public appearances, share out the glory (everybody wants some) but take a little for yourself. You deserve it!
C. MOTIVATION FOR HELPERS, PARENTS AND SPONSORS
Cultivating people is as important as cultivating plants. Supportive parents and helpers can make all the difference. Here are some ways to catch and keep their interest.
Involve them Get them involved in discussing and planning the garden project, so that they are personally committed to its success. Present the garden plan at the beginning of the year and get their suggestions. Then ask them to explain the project to others: people are rapidly convinced if they have to convince someone else!
Give them choices Volunteers have different motivations and talents. Discuss what tasks need doing, but let them choose for themselves.
Get donations Ask for and accept donations of plants and seeds. Show donors how they will be helping. If possible, show them the garden, or at least a picture. Introduce them to children who can talk about what they are doing. Delegate individual students to keep track of donated seeds and cuttings and report back to the donor. Get parents to contribute small things (e.g. vegetable peelings for compost, seeds from gardens). Frequency and regularity matter more than quantity or value.
Keep in touch Invite families and friends of the garden to garden events. Keep them informed about what is going on. The cheapest and most effective way is word of mouth. Ask each person you see to talk to two others. Consult people frequently and ask their advice - and if you take it, let them know!
Say thanks Acknowledge all contributions and advice warmly. All who help and show interest should be thanked individually. Some ways of showing appreciation are:
including names on a Roll of Honour (These people helped with our garden…)
personal guided tours by pupils (practise them in the garden beforehand);
small gifts of garden produce, nicely packaged;
plaques commemorating important gifts (see Signs and labels, Part 5, D.4);
notices in the school newsletter or the local newspaper, naming names;
thank-you letters written by children (see Showing and telling, Part 10, Lesson outline 2);
personal invitations to garden celebrations and events;
genuine personal appreciation, warmly expressed both in private and in public.
D. MOTIVATION FOR THE CHILDREN
For the children, the garden should be a place with many positive associa-Prize tions where they can:
produce something to be proud of;
learn how to do things and take pride in their skills;
show others what they have done and talk about it;
get something nice to eat;
make their own observations and talk about them;
have fun with earth and water, play games and relax;
get some pleasant exercise and mix with other children.
A lot can be done to create and maintain these motivations. Here are some possibilities:
Show that you think that gardening and growing your own food are important and worthwhile.
Make garden work a reward. For example, the class which presents the best garden project should carry out the project. Give individuals small personal plots as rewards for good work.
Make the school garden an attractive place to be. DON'T let it be punitive.
Let children identify imaginatively with plants and garden creatures through role-play, stories and drama.
Give children a material stake in the garden - for example, part of the harvest, a share of the profits, payment for ooking after the garden during the vacation.
Reserve some garden projects for older students only, so that these activities are associated with growing up and becoming more important in life.
Treat each year’s work as a separate project, and change it from year to year.
Plan interesting events to take place in the growing period, when routine work gets boring.
Plant for beauty and interest as well as for utility.
Highlight stages and events
Divide the project visibly into short stages. Tick each one off as it is accomplished.
Frequently look back to the aims of the project and forward to the outcomes.
Make a big fuss over “first fruits”. Put them on display, photograph them, taste them together.
Mark outcomes in ceremonial form (harvest festival, garden exhibit), with contributions from pupils. Keep pupils aware that these events are approaching and discuss their contributions.
Encourage children to promote the garden themselves
Get children to label and signpost the garden.
Encourage children to tell families and friends about plans and activities.
Have pupils explain their plots to visitors. Train them to act as “garden guides” and give them a badge when they qualify.
Give rewards for individuals and groups - personal praise, public commendations, prizes, gold stars, good marks. Give a school mark for practical work in the garden and another for garden files, diaries or drawings produced by individuals or teams.
Have a garden credit scheme. Children earn credits for garden work through the year, with a certificate at the end.
Encourage pupils to congratulate each other, and older pupils to help and praise younger ones.
Have competitions and prizes - for example for the first edible carrot, the biggest yield, the healthiest-looking green leaves, the most pest-free plants, the best-kept plot, the most attractive flowers, and a booby prize for the biggest weeds. Children can decide who should have the prizes and organize the prize-giving.
|The 4H Club organized a competition in the Caribbean for the best meal or snack invented by a child from garden produce. One winning entry was a kallaloo drink with a touch of ginger.|
|(C. Power, personal communication, 2003)|
E. A SENSE OF OWNERSHIP
One of the most powerful motivations is the sense of ownership. This is also an important condition for developing life skills.
Having responsibility (Motto: “Our garden, my patch”) Children should:
Making decisions and taking initiatives (Motto: “Our plan, my idea”). Adults and teachers will have to make some of the main decisions, but pupils must also be able to make real choices and decisions, both individually and in groups/classes. Help them with their choices: for example, make sure they have enough information, give them a viable selection to choose from, encourage discussion of the pros and cons.
Sharing knowledge and skills (Motto: “Ask and tell”). Pupils should be encouraged to seek information and advice from others, and to pass on their own knowledge and skills to families, younger children, classmates. This socializes and reinforces learning.
Know what is going on (Motto: “Be in the picture”). Older pupils in particular can see a project as a whole from the beginning. This helps them to plan and organize, talk about the project and evaluate it. Where actions can’t be undertaken by pupils alone (e.g. installing a water supply), they should be informed, consulted, and given the opportunity to observe and document events.
F. A FINAL WORD
Children's health is the concern of the whole school and community. The classroom curriculum, extra-curricular activities, the school establishment and the school environment should reinforce each other and work together with the family and community to ensure that children have their basic rights to education and to adequate nutrition.
The School Garden Guide works on all these fronts - growing food in the garden, learning about it in the classroom, involving the school meals service, and bringing in the family and community to support the programme. This multi-faceted approach is the best way to successful education for better nutrition and long-term health. More than that, it may play a part in promoting not only the children’s health but also the health of their families and of the natural environment.
This Manual is not long enough to deal with everyone's needs and circumstances. We hope, however, that you have enough practical information here to start thinking and planning, a variety of ideas to suit your circumstances, and enough inspiration and good examples to carry you ahead. We also hope that you will adopt some of the watchwords of this Manual.
|Use school gardens||Give your garden|
|See people as||Help pupils to|
|SHOW THE WORLD WHAT YOUR GARDEN CAN DO!|
|SUGGESTIONS FOR ACTION|
Pick a few ideas for building and maintaining motivation in all your players.
Discuss questions of motivation with your garden group.
Get ideas for a “garden programme” of events through the year.
Include motivation (of all parties) as one element in the project evaluation. Outputs: Garden programme
Outputs: Garden programme
|TIPS AND IDEAS|