Learning about gardens, learning in gardens and learning from gardens
The main objective of the EGHN education programme was to deliver useful and practical concepts and ideas for schools and gardens to work on in partnership in order to raise awareness and appreciation of our rich garden and park heritage amongst young people. The EGHN education team, in collaboration with educationalists from Gateway Gardens, identified a need, particularly in the UK, for better curriculum resources to support teachers who are keen to develop and inspire their students’ interest in gardens and plants and their conservation.
1) EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING
As a first step, the team devised a detailed plan for a week-long summer garden education residential, which took place at the Parc Oriental de Maulévrier in France in 2005 and at Schloss Dyck in Germany in 2006. Whilst preparing for these camps and working with pilot schools on other initiatives, the team developed a new learning tool called ‘WILD-FORMAL-ART/CREATIVE’, a concept that focuses on the garden as a meeting place, or a place to share experiences and a place of personal response, promoting the potential creative wealth of gardens and parks.
b) A new concept called WILD-FORMAL-ART/CREATIVE
This three-pronged methodology explores the relationship between man and nature. Fine-tuned and tested at these international youth camps, the new concept yielded some astounding results. Exploring different natural (‘WILD’) materials, students learned to be more aware of themselves and their surroundings. Then through the structural, scientific or cultural references in a garden, they learned how humanity shapes nature in more ‘FORMAL’ gardens and parks. Finally, participants were invited to make their own ‘CREATIVE’ artistic or communicative response to the garden using it as an inspiration in the way artists and writers had done before them.
2) ON-LINE CURRICULUM RESOURCES
In order to achieve the production of other learning resources, a partnership was formed between Somerset County Council as the leading EGHN partner for this action, the South West Grid for Learning (SWGfL) and the National Council for the Conservation of Plants and Gardens (NCCPG). By working closely with pilot schools and near-by gardens they developed two on-line educational tools, which are now available on the Internet in English, German and French to pupils worldwide:
a) Garden Plant ID Cards for primary schools – www.plantlifeinthegarden.org.uk
This flexible resource is a simple IT exercise. It encourages a number of learning skills including researching (History), identifying plants (Science), working on the Internet (ICT) and organising data (Numeracy). The resource enables young children to produce high quality ‘Plant ID Cards’ based on the garden plants they have discovered in the school grounds, at the local park, or in their own garden at home. They can be printed off singly to produce a set of cards for sorting games or put onto laminated sheets for future use. The website currently contains useful information on the 150 plants that one is most likely to encounter in any of the participating gardens, but will in future also link to the plant collections listed on the NCCPG’s website, so that further in-depth research can easily be undertaken.
b) The Story of Gardens for secondary schools – www.storyofgardens.eu
Designed specifically to support the teaching of History, this on-line resource tells the European story of gardens in simple stages. It puts garden design and landscape architecture into a general historical perspective, illustrated by case studies of specific gardens and supported by maps, pictures and documents for teachers and students to download and use in the classroom or as a preparation for an actual fact-finding visit.
EGHN-Reports related to this topic: