The farm as a classroom

Holly ThompsonManjimup-Bridgetown Times
Teachers got a close-up look into the agriculture sector when they swapped a classroom for a paddock in Kojonup last month.
Camera IconTeachers got a close-up look into the agriculture sector when they swapped a classroom for a paddock in Kojonup last month. Credit: Supplied

A group of 22 teachers swapped the classroom for the paddock last month, in a bid to increase agricultural studies in school curriculums.

The group travelled to Kojonup to take part in the event which was part of the Teacher Farm Experience Program, developed as a way of bridging the urban-rural divide.

The aim of the two-day trip was to give teachers an increased understanding and interest in food production, with a focus on incorporating this into science, technology, engineering, mathematics and digital technology.

Floreat Park Primary School STEM teacher Shelley Jenkinson said the program provided the opportunity to learn about farming, which was challenging to do in the city.

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She said the biggest lesson she had taken away from the program was the need to establish a connection between schools, the education system and agriculture.

“I wasn’t really aware of the level of disconnect until I started doing this program,” she said.

“It is actually quite astounding, the farmers are acknowledging it, they are aware, but I am not sure if those of us in the city are so aware of that disconnection.”

Mrs Jenkinson said getting the message and connection across into the city was important.

“Our kids really know so little about agriculture in general, about where their food and fibre comes from,” she said.

On returning to the classroom, Ms Jenkinson said she would be using the satellite imagery program introduced to her at the event.

“The fact that there is data available online is big plus because it means we can make connections without leaving the classroom,” she said.

“We can see the satellite images, for example, and collect real data without being there like a farmer can.”

Program organiser Gerri Hinkley said the teachers who attended the event were engaged with the program and asked intelligent questions about environmental issues and animal ethics.

“Some teachers had a detailed knowledge of the industry while others were excited to see how big a sheep was,” she said.

“It was an eye-opener for many of the teachers and highlighted the gaps in knowledge that we, as an industry, need to help fill.”

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