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Bring back gardening to our elementary schools
Nowadays we can safely say that gardening is no longer emphasized in our elementary schools. There is no comparison between the school gardens of the past and those that we have now. Is “school and home gardening” still included in today’s elementary curriculum? In many elementary schools, the garden sites suitable for teaching the pupils how to raise vegetables are being planted with Gmelina trees. Which is more important to the education of our kids—planting Gmelina or raising vegetables? It’s high time that our Department of Education officials asked themselves this question, especially now that we are facing a food crisis.
During my elementary school days, not only did we have individual school gardens, we were required to make home gardens. Our garden teacher would visit our homes to find out if we had a garden.
According to North H. Foreman in “School and Home Gardening” (Manila: Bureau of Public Schools, 1951), the object of school gardening may be summarized as follows: (1) to teach the pupils the correct methods of producing important vegetables that will successfully grow in the community through proper seed selection and intensive cultivation; (2) to teach the pupils to produce more abundant and a greater variety of vegetables; (3) to teach the fundamental principles of plant life through a complete and practical demonstration in the school garden; (4) to teach the schoolchildren to make gardens such as may be introduced in every home; (5) to make them appreciate the dignity of labor and realize the value of work; (6) to teach the pupils the law on ownership and self-reliance; and (7) to teach them the managerial and operative jobs necessary in life.
According to Colin M. Hoskins, children learn easily and what they learn as children they can carry better over to their adult years. He stressed that the school is the most effective agency for introducing new farm practices. Most children accept the words of their teacher without question. Scientific gardening prepares a person to be a scientific farmer. Well-acquired attitudes and practices in scientific farming could be the most important solution against hunger. Since most of our children can finish only the elementary grades, it is necessary that we should equip them in the early years with enough skills and experience in vegetable gardening.
LUIS J. ALMACEN, agriculture consultant, Medellin, Cebu