A Garden in My School: Green Education
Learning with Nature in a school kitchen garden makes it possible to acquire more knowledge outside the classroom.
Setting up an ecological kitchen garden at school allows children to connect with the natural environment, develop numerous skills and learn social and environmental values.
School is a second home. The time children spend in the classroom corresponds to 25% of the day, with forty minutes of playtime for every five hours of class. Those forty minutes represent more leisure time in the open air than many children get the chance to have each day in the park. That’s why it’s necessary to give schools quality green zones which will not only serve as learning resources but also increase the amount of time children spend relating to and interacting with Nature.
Learning through Nature is the basic rationale behind incorporating kitchen garden-related workshops and activities into educational syllabuses. Familiarity with the land and with horticultural tasks transmits environmental, social and affective values and encourages cooperation, teamwork and respect for the environment. These are just some of the arguments that emphasise the importance of including green education in school spaces and syllabuses. Green education is a functional approach to using plant cultivation in school environments as a learning resource and as a way of reinforcing the benefits of Nature and exploiting its capacity to improve the environmental, physical and psychological quality of spaces.
Green education also represents an opportunity to engage with Nature through play, something that’s already being studied in the field of environmental psychology and developed by architects and landscapists in children’s spaces. It’s a way of endowing green awareness with a more ludic dimension, as documented by architect Virginia Navarro in her article “Jugar en verde: la importancia de la Naturaleza en los espacios infantiles”. Greenness in education offers countless opportunities, as teacher and education researcher Heike Freire explains: “In open spaces there are increasingly more opportunities for sensory and motor development, surprise, adventure, magic, mystery… Biological and environmental phenomena arouse our sense of wonder and kick-start natural curiosity, personal motivation and self-learning”1. The same arguments also remind us of the importance of stimuli in learning spaces.
We form part of an ecosystem, so our relationship with Nature is something biological. The natural environment is decisive in architecture. It speaks of context, integration and the vital milieu, and it also performs a complex function in connection with people’s physical and psychological wellbeing. Greenness in school spaces contributes to children’s psychomotor, sensory, affective, social, intellectual and emotional development, while at the same time offering an opportunity to take classrooms outside into Nature and learn and confirm in practice what has been taught in theory.