Thursday, 14 June 2018

Orchard Garden CFE Day 3

June 13th, 2018. Nick Wheeler-Hughes. Blog post #1.

We’ve just completed Day 3 at the Orchard Garden, and already it feels like we’re starting to develop our own little community. I think there’s something special about working on a project together – it creates a sense of solidarity that would not otherwise arise.

Wednesday started off cold and wet. Quite a few of us were delayed by rain or traffic or other reasons, but all the same we got to work weeding out the western beds of the garden. What was interesting was that us five teacher candidates were the earliest to arrive, and without having to be instructed on what to do, we simply began weeding because we knew it was something that needed to be done. Tathali and Emily showed up soon thereafter, and with very few words joined us on the work.

Weeding is arduous work, not because it’s particularly difficult to remove weeds from the ground, but because there are just so many of them! Some of us had spades, others used different tools, but regardless of what you were using, there aren’t any shortcuts in weeding. I ended up working on two beds that hadn’t had anything planted in them, so I quickly developed the strategy of abandoning precision and simply upheaving the soil and then picking out the weeds. We would be chatting about little things like practicum, the upcoming World Cup, or a number of other things that helped pass the time. It was a soothing hour and a half of work, and I personally enjoyed it far more than I thought I would.

What I particularly like about this CFE so far is that it’s hands-on work. During practicum, I was working hard to develop meaningful lessons, engage students in interesting discussions and take them out for rewarding experiences. But despite the fact that I felt good about those lessons, and get the sense that my students got something out of them, teaching is work that doesn’t produce immediate, tangible results – gardening does. Yesterday we cleared a path through the overgrown section of the garden, and mulched that path as well. Today we cleared weeds out of some beds, and at the end of the day, you can look back and actually see the fruits of your labour. I’ve really enjoyed that.

We broke for lunch at 11:30, and met back up an hour later in Scarfe room 1209. Because Susan wasn’t able to join us, Tathali walked the five of us through some approaches to starting a garden with a class, and we proceeded to have a discussion about some of the barriers we might encounter. One thing that I found particularly interesting was that starting a garden tends to be an activity done with primary students – intermediate kids are rarely given the opportunity to do something like this (presumably because many of them already did it in their earliest years at school). Tathali gave us some suggestions for how we might engage older students in gardening activities more suited to their age.

Overall, today was yet another good day, and I’m excited to see what the rest of the week holds. Till next time!

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