Only a few children and young people still have the opportunity to gain direct insights into the interrelationships of nature, the handling of animals, and the origin of their food. Such experiences are usually no longer directly experienced, but knowledge is often passed on and acquired through the media.
Valuable information is lost in the process, and hardly any realistic images of the living and working world of farms are conveyed. At the same time, many young people are increasingly interested in learning more about how their food is produced.
Agriculture and farming as teaching topics
Agriculture is a subject area that combines a wide variety of fields of knowledge. In almost all grades and types of school, the curricula and guidelines offer opportunities to integrate agriculture and farming into the learning concept. This applies to the primary level, but agriculture and farming are also in lower and upper secondary schools. The preservation of the natural basis of life or questions about the production of regenerative energies and renewable raw materials are, for example, essential aspects of school lessons in secondary schools.
The problems of agriculture and farming are of particular interest at the present stage of development of different states. It is primarily since the development of the agro-industrial complex is one of the priority projects, the implementation of which should lead to an increase in agricultural production and the development of the farming sector of the economy.
But how can farmers play an active role in imparting knowledge? How can they win over schools to teach agricultural content in a very vivid way at the learning site of the farm, thus giving their students direct and lucid insights into the living and working world of farmers?
Farm as a place of learning
As an extracurricular place of learning, the farm is a unique experience and adventure space with action-oriented knowledge transfer. Here, students can explore the origins of their food, discover the farm's working and living environment, and learn a great deal about ecological, economic, and social interrelationships and economic cycles. These direct experiences are formative and last for many years.
The farm offers the opportunity to impart knowledge around the topic of agriculture. It is the ideal place for students to gain practical experience and acquire skills.
But how to connect the school with the farm?
In many cases, the first step is taken by the children themselves. For teachers, a visit to the farm is an excellent opportunity to teach the subject matter in a different way. But what if kindergarten or school show no interest, there are no contacts, or the distance to the nearest farm is too far?
Direct contact is the best way, especially in the beginning. Acquaintances who work in kindergartens or schools, or the teachers of one's children, are usually open to an offer of farm tours or teaching opportunities. Through them, contacts can quickly be made with the school.
A personal letter to a teacher or the school administration is another way to offer the farm for school visits. Contacts can also be made at a farm festival or in the farm's store to draw attention to the farm. In all regions and federal states, there are also coordination offices for learning on the farm, which arranges the contact between schools and farms.
Developing agriculture and farming teaching concepts in a practical way
The basis for organizing a school excursion is early agreement on the date and duration of the visit, size and composition of the class group, topics, content, procedures, and costs. The essential points for the organization and the course of events are recorded in writing and providing the students and other learners with the StuDocu sharing study platform. The teachers often provide tips that can be used to convey the content clearly. The content concept is discussed with the teachers since they know the student group and curriculum requirements best. It makes sense to start with a topic that is familiar and that the participants feel comfortable with, for example:
- Discovering the farm
- Experiencing animals on the farm
- From grain to bread
- From the cow to the ice cream parlor
- Soil as a habitat
- Technology on the farm
- Energy from the field
There are very good and field-tested materials from other farms, institutions, or publications from teaching material providers for many topics. These materials provide a sound basis and can often be adapted to the individual farm without much effort.
The green issues surrounding nature, agriculture, and nutrition play an increasingly important role today. With advancing industrialization and digitalization, it is not only our economic structures that have changed significantly in recent decades. In broad sections of our modern society, too, the relationship with nature and the origin of food has changed so considerably that people often speak of alienation.
The consequences of climate change, other crises, and a new awareness of sustainability have led to a return to these issues. In particular, interest in agriculture and its forms of production has increased significantly. So, starting from 2022, teaching agriculture and farming in schools is essential.
Kevin White is a freelance blogger. He’s got experience in writing quality pieces on various topics. You may feel free to reach out to him at [email protected] for collaboration suggestions.