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Place matters: pedagogies of food, ecology and design
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posted on 09.02.2017by Green, Monica
The purpose of this study has been to consider children’s embodiment of food gardens and school ground places. What pedagogies support children’s inhabitation of these places? What teaching and learning opportunities do these places enable, and how are they incorporated into the broader school curriculum? These questions offer an important starting point for understanding the contributions of garden and place-based education in primary (elementary) schooling contexts.
I conducted extensive semi-structured interviews with students, gardening and environmental teachers and principals in three schools to gain a sense of the significance of garden-based curriculum. During this time I listened to, and observed how students and teachers interpreted and worked with local outdoor learning spaces in embodied and experiential ways through growing food and land conservation/rehabilitation. I investigated comments and stories about children’s attachment to, and affinity with a number of school ground settings that included food and indigenous gardens, wetlands, creeks and trees. The study found that food gardens and school ground contexts are important pedagogical sites that renew children’s meaningful relationships with personally significant environments. Across all schools, pedagogical frameworks underpinned by deep pedagogies for sustainability assist to extend children’s connection to, and relations with local and people, within and beyond school boundaries. Overwhelmingly, participants expressed a desire to care for the places where their regular learning and play occurred.
The research draws attention to the ways schools are engaging with emergent 21st century environmental and social issues. The initiatives undertaken by each school and their wider communities are positive and hopeful, and play a critical role in the renewal of people-place relations, which remains a key element of education for sustainability.