posted by: RAINS on November 13, 2018

When students take an active role in their learning they are able to better comprehend what is being taught than if they had been learning passively.

This is why RAINS was very happy to host an expert commission by our partner, AXIS (a Danish non-governmental organization), to train teachers on participatory teaching methodologies from Oct. 4th to 7th. AXIS sent Catherine Watkins, a professional in education research, to facilitate an intensive workshop with teachers from Nyoglo, Bunglung, Tibali, Nabogu, Yemo, and Kadia, along with circuit supervisors from the Ghana Education Service from the Savelugu Municipality.

This workshop was part of the School Pedagogy Project that RAINS and AXIS are currently implementing with funding by Civil Society in Development (CISU). To improve the quality of education in community schools, school gardens are built and then used as tools for participatory learning. Two of the partaking schools at this workshop—Nyoglo and Bunglung—were part of the first phase of the project and have school gardens. The project is currently in phase two and the remaining four schools are undergoing the process of implementation.

Ms. Watson engaged the participants in several activities that they themselves can use to make learning more stimulating for their students. These activities required participants to organize themselves, think about what they already knew about a topic, and learn from both Ms. Watson and other participants through discussion.

Among other things, Ms. Watson introduced the concepts of ‘languaging’ and ‘deep learning’. Languaging is a term to describe the development and increasing of conceptual understanding when one uses language to express their knowledge. Deep learning is the ability to take what one has learned in one context and apply it in another context.

There was also discussion and activities regarding how school gardens can be used to teach class curriculum. One of the benefits of using school gardens is that it is likely that children in rural communities already have knowledge about farming, of which can be further developed through teaching with the gardens. It offers students a learning experience with a starting point in something that they are familiar with and is relevant to them.

There are three phases to deep learning: the material phase (practical knowledge); the verbal phase (languaging); and the mental phase (thinking about a concept intellectually and/or abstractly). Students from farming communities may have the practical knowledge, and, with use of the gardens, this can be further expanded into the verbal and mental phases of learning.

Teachers discussed how curriculum could be taught using the gardens to make learning both practical and local. Use of the gardens can be used to enhance language, science, math, and other subjects.