Gardening in education
Since April this year, 2016, i have been working in the Peace Garden. I got to know the people already working there, first and foremost Daniel and Rutger. But also many other people working there, other people making a film in Europe and Asia about urban agricultural projects. I try to wave as much as i can at people walking past and looking down on the garden. Sometimes there is room for a small chat. People stop and enter the garden and talk with us. I love it.
I have also made a couple of walks to other gardens.
A walk in Rotterdam: the Essenburgsingel
A walk in Rotterdam: from Marconiplein to Dijkzigt
A walk in Rotterdam: the Old North
A walk in Rotterdam: the Oude Noorden and Blijdorp
A walk in Rotterdam: Feijenoord
Making these walks was a good combination of walking, which i love, getting to know this town a bit better, in which i have lived for the past thirty years, and getting to know the gardens, especially the vegetable gardens and allotments. In some gardens i met some of the people working there. We had a casual talk usually, but it felt good. It was good.
I never lived in a house with a garden. Not when i lived with my parents, and not when i lived on my own. I didn’t miss it terribly much, no, but my experience has changed me. I see now what i have missed. The simple knowledge of gardening, maintaining the garden, the ground, the earth. Having a compost heap, eating what you are growing yourself; i love it. And now i do gain the knowledge i could have gotten so much earlier.
I started to think about education. Especially primary education. For me personally, i loved school. I loved learning, i loved mathematics, chemistry, physics. I loved to learn how to read, how to add and subtract numbers. I never had any difficulty with any of those subjects. The only difficulty i had was with languages, which to me were very illogical and mystifying subjects which i dropped as soon as possible. I did have swimming at school. I liked that too. And sports. Which i didn’t like. But never did i have any gardening lessons. No cooking lessons. Nothing so practical. One thought did pop up, schools should have a vegetable garden. Communal or single, doesn’t really matter. Kids should learn about plants growing, about the earth feeding the plants, about compost brewing into usable earth with enough nutrients for plants. The simple facts of everyday. Which of course today are not so simple anymore.
A few weeks ago i came across a post on facebook of all places about Henk Oosterling. He was one of the participants on the special evening for Sexposition, the exhibition Annemarie and me organized in 1992. Oosterling has started a project on a primary school, combining judo, philosophy, cooking lessons and gardening to be taught to children. This all is combined under the name Rotterdam Vakmanstad Skillcity. This project is trying to function in the world of rules and regulations of primary schools. Outside of this experiment i read about rules forbidding primary schools to hire cooks, only money is provided for educational staff. (Source: Rotterdam Vakmanstad als voorbeeldmachine). I don’t know the ins and outs of this project and i don’t know much about current primary education, but this does worry me.
I do find this project Rotterdam Vakmanstad/Skillcity very interesting. On the site there are many books, articles and videos linked.
A new book written by Oosterling is released recently: Waar geen wil is, is een weg (Where is no will, is a way).