“…in this world of instant everything, productive gardening re-teaches one the true meaning of that old word, patience.” ~Richard Beckett
I love this quote because it is so true. Over my career as a middle-school and high-school teacher I have seen the “instant everything” creeping more and more into the lives of our students. Life lessons, like the value of patience and hard work, seem to be taught less and less. In many ways we are at a crisis point in the education of our children. As you read the following quote keep in mind that the author lived a century ago.
“If we paid no more attention to our plants than we have to your children, we would now be living in a jungle of weed.” – Luther Burbank.
I wonder what Luther Burbank would say today…. Would he have something to say about our children’s lack of knowledge of the natural world, to say nothing of ourselves as parents and teachers? Would he have something to say about where our eyes are focused and what we do with our hands? We are living in a dangerous world where fast food is destroying a slow-paced way of living and a screen the enjoyment found working in the dirt. Our generation has the opportunity to help our children, to make a difference in the way they grow up.
In an age where learning is more accessible than in any other time, it is telling that we as a society cling to the shallow and superficial type of learning rather than the deep and natural education God has intended for us. We are deficient in fundamental, real-life, essential techniques and know-how. This is not a problem we will solve in our schools with more testing, however many of the skills that are lacking in students can be taught very simply, very effectively, and very enjoyably through gardening.
“Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace.” May Sarton
Gardening teaches essential character traits such as patience, grace, persistence, responsibility, the joy of hard work, and respect for God’s creation. Gardening naturally teaches the parts of the scientific method such as observation, forming hypotheses, experimenting, data collection, data analysis, and retesting of theories. And gardening has also been found to be healing to the mind and soul.
Dr. Raymond Moore (a leader in practical education of children and author of “Better Late Than Early”) described a child’s education as being like a three-legged- stool with each “leg” being the heart, the hand, and the mind. He further developed his thoughts into what is now known as “the Moore Formula”
1) Study from a few minutes to several hours a day, depending on the child’s maturity.
2) Manual work at least as much as study.
3) Home and/or community service an hour or so a day (Raymond Moore, The Successful Homeschool Family Handbook, p. 273).
Gardening is a perfect way to implement the Moore formula. It requires constant study and learning, manual work in plenty, and can be an integral component of service whether that is sharing your produce with others or using the skills learned in gardening to help and serve others.
“The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul. – Alfred Austin
If you are convinced that gardening needs to be a part of your child’s (and your) education, your next question might be “where do I begin?” We at Kinderfarm Academy are offering The Abundant Garden classes to those in the Southern California area once a month beginning on October 9.
Using the Dr. Raymond Moore’s formula of study, work, and service, we, a science teacher and home school mother of four, have also created an online gardening curriculum specifically designed for preschool through middle-school aged children (but is available for everyone.) If you have land or live in an apartment, if you homeschool or go to school, if you learn by reading or by doing, this The Abundant Garden: Growing Quality Kids Through Gardening ecourse will help you learn all the important lessons that gardening has to offer. Our ecourse is designed to be an experience, project, and literature-based way of learning for the family. It consists of 36 weeks of lessons which will begin on October 3. Each monthly unit will include four lessons: the study of basic gardening concepts with practical applications and activities, a theme plant (including recipes), a garden creature of the month, and an influential pioneer in gardening/agriculture. It will include monthly gardening goals that will help you to gradually build and improve your garden and your gardening skills. Through October 16, this ecourse is available for the introductory price of $39 (regular price is $59). This class will be closed for enrollment on 10/31/2016.
The goal of this course is to help you to not only grow fruits and vegetables, but more importantly to grow the body, mind, heart, and soul of your child.