|Primary School Agriculture: Volume I: Pedagogy (GTZ, 1985, 144 p.)|
|Part II: Teaching methods|
|1. The scheme of work|
Any teaching that involves practical activities in the classroom or outside presents a number of problems absent in ordinary classroom teaching. Primary school agriculture with an orientation towards science presents certain additional problems, because
- the practical work is mostly farm work, and extends over a whole season requiring continuity;
- the activities must be so organised as to enable pupils to make their own discoveries; -integration with other lessons, e.g. language or mathematics should be possible.
All this has consequences for the planning of a teacher's work: schemes of work, teaching units, and lesson notes. But it also affects work organisation in the classroom and on the school farm, it has consequences for classroom discipline, and it ought to have an influence on the way pupils' performance is evaluated.
The traditional way of structuring a scheme of work is to follow the internal progression of a subject. In reading, writing and mathematics, certain skills and knowledge are basic and must be mastered before more complex skills can be taught. To the extent that this is true, things outside the school do not matter. Fortunately, not all the subjects taught in primary school have a strict internal progression. Topics in social studies, nature study, or rural science are related in such a way that many topics can be the starting point for a number of lessons, the sequence of which pupils and teachers can determine together according to their interest and liking. This can best be illustrated by the topic web. The topic web is a diagram organized around a central theme, e.g. The Family, My Home, Soil, The Maize Crop, etc. Such a diagram shows how the main topics are related to the central theme and to each other. It also shows how the various topics are related to the traditional school 'subjects'. The topic web carefully avoids any time sequence. Pupils and teachers who want to study the central theme would start with a brief introduction and are left to decide which related topics to study at what time. Therefore, the topic web is not yet a scheme of work. It is like a set of building materials without any exact plan for joining the pieces together. All a teacher would have to do is to decide beforehand on how many periods he wants to use for the whole theme. How this time is divided up among the various elements of the topic web is left to the whole class (or the teacher alone if he feels he is the only one who should make decisions). The illustration on p. 34 shows such a topic web related to primary school agriculture.Yet, the topic web is not sufficient for the teaching of agriculture if practical farming is involved. Farming a crop or a crop association imposes a definite time schedule on the practical activities, from tilling to harvesting and storage or sale. There is a principle which would seem to make sense, educationally:
Practical work and classroom teaching in agriculture should be closely connected.
This means that the work on the school farm should be used in classroom lessons. This has the advantage that the pupils' immediate experience can be utilized during lessons, and practical work is seen to be an outcome of teaching/learning in the classroom. It has an important consequence, however: the scheme of work for teaching agriculture will by and large be determined by the growth cycle of the crop(s) farmed by a particular class. This is a departure from the topic web where the timing and sequence of lessons can safely be left to teachers and pupils.