Friday, August 24, 2012

Foto Friday: Agricultural High School In Norway - A Language of Person and Place

A farm-school cooperative program in Aurland, Norway, located in a Western fjord. This school was an early pilot program (est. 1996) for the country's farm-school program, and now serves as a model for other communities developing 'place-based learning programs'. The land serves as an outdoor classroom for a 10-year program that begins in elementary school and continues through university. In the words of the school, the value lies in the developmental effect on the students:

"Our findings show that in the practical tasks at the farm, t
he pupils experience themselves as capable and needed at the same time as they acquire insight into 
connections and processes. In this way, the loss of meaning which many children and youth experience today is counteracted."

The structure of the curriculum is unique in that: 

"In contrast to what school-farm connections have been in the past, this was not seen as an opportunity to disseminate information about farming. Nor was the goal to let the children see a demonstration of agricultural work and life. The emphasis was placed on participation over time that allows for a greater identification and provides an alternative arena for children with differing capabilities to use their talents."

In other words, instead of focusing on pre-determined goals, they focus on a patient unfolding of what is true for each child. What a great model for refining our own edible schoolyard curricula! The program also seeks to help students develop an idea of place. Which, of course, is the goal of many a landscape architecture project. Makes me think that there may be more to edible schoolyards than health and nutrition alone. Engaging the land over time may be one key to helping develop a language of place for our cities. 

Read more about the program here. Photos by Jacqueline Ruben.