|Primary School Agriculture: Volume I: Pedagogy (GTZ, 1985, 144 p.)|
|Part II: Teaching methods|
|2. The structure of teaching units|
Taking the example of the sub-unit on the maize harvest you can see quite clearly that the indoor activities predominate. Neither farm work nor discovery activities (e.g. observations on the school farm or in the community) will take precedence over classroom work, but they will make it much more interesting.
The indoor activities, i.e. the classroom work, can be grouped into preparatory work and follow-up lessons. Preparatory work or introductory lessons consist of the following elements:
- an introduction to the overall topics of the sub-unit: This introduction might contain a revision of previous knowledge and practical work, an introduction to new content, and a brief overview of the whole sub-unit. The introduction will focus on such knowledge and skills as will be needed to carry out the practical activity. It may end with the design of an observation sheet to be used during practical activities.
- a period devoted to work organisation: If the practical activity is relatively new, a whole lesson might be devoted to discussing the work involved, breaking it down into elementary tasks, and organizing teams of two to five pupils with definite assignments. If the practical activity is well known (e.g. if it is one of the routine farm jobs like clearing), work organization might be included in the introductory lesson mentioned above. Alternatively, a second introductory lesson could be built around the observation sheet and work organization.
Follow-up lessons consist of the following steps:
- summarizing the practical work done,
- using the observations made for actual teaching,
- summarizing the results of the sub-unit.
Summarizing the practical work could mean making a list of the different farm operations and tasks performed, compiling the observations made by the various teams, clarifying the meaning of the items recorded and the various work operations.
Using the observations made for actual teaching can best be illustrated with the sub-unit on the maize harvest (p. 99). The attempt to explain the maize yield recorded leads to six lessons.
- a general one on the concepts of yield and yield per standard area, and on the factors influencing yields;
- a number of lessons, each devoted to one or two factors affecting the maize yield.
Follow-up lessons on other topics can be structured in a similar way. Only large sub-units give rise to such a large number of follow-up lessons.
Summarizing the results of the sub-unit may be done in one or two lessons: in either case it is important for the success of the sub-unit. In the case of the maize harvest sub-unit, the six follow-up lessons on the maize yield will leave the pupils puzzled: there are so many factors to be considered, each of them seems important -which one can really account for a poor or good harvest?
Such a summary may simply be a text listing all the results of previous lessons and drawing conclusions. It may also be a formalized table as in the maize harvest example (p. 107), or even a series of calculations with written comments and conclusions as in the sub-unit on the pine-apple experiment.
The outdoor activities are either work or observation, sometimes both. Observational activities also incorporate survey work: pupils asking local people questions about certain topics. There may be pure observational activities, for example when the class observes plant development on the school farm or on a native farm. There should be no pure work periods, however. The example of the maize harvest shows how even a very basic farm job can be an occasion for fruitful observation leading to a whole series of lessons.
Practical activities connected with experiments are no exception here. They consist of work and observation: work as the experiment is set up and supervised, and careful observation is needed from beginning to end.
It is important that the necessary tools and equipment be available in sufficient numbers.
Teachers will have to make sure that the tasks are carried out according to instructions, especially when it comes to observation and recording. Pupils have more difficulties in thus area than with farm work. If the planned outdoor activity cannot be completed in one period, more time will have to be allocated, but this does not change the overall problem.
· There should be neither pure
outside work nor pure classroom teaching.
· A good combination of both will lead to better learning with less fatigue.