TOPIC 2: How do we learn in community gardens?

TOPIC 2: How do we learn in community gardens?

Whether we want to understand the learning processes better, or we aspire to become better teachers, it helps to know how people learn in general. (Slabikář, 2019) In the following topic we will describe 7 types of learning styles and share useful tips on how to learn about climate change in a community garden.

Intentional learning

Can be a situation, in which we have a clear goal or purpose and know what specific knowledge, skills and habits we want to acquire. This characteristic corresponds to the learning that should normally take place in informal learning.

Unintentional or incidental learning

This is learning that comes randomly and completely unplanned, depending on various situations and events that we experience during the day.

Mechanical learning

Some things are learned mechanically or by memorising. This is learning by rote without logical context.

Logical learning

This learning style includes understanding the logical context behind a problem. Logical learning tends to be used quite often, especially in activities aimed at sharing experiences and examples of a good practice or in various simulation and team activities.

Cognitive learning

Cognitive learning is how we acquire knowledge and information and develop our thinking skills.

Sensorimotor learning

Sensorimotor or sensory-motor learning mainly uses our own body, through which we learn selected motor activities. Whether we are learning to walk, jump, master a specific sport or learn a specific skill like building flower beds, weeding the garden or planting tomatoes.

PHOTO SOURCE: Teru Menclová © Kokoza, 2021

Social learning

Social learning is the set of processes that make us learn to survive successfully in society. This includes communicating with people, following rules or functioning in different social roles.

It is quite natural that, in the preparation and implementation of non-formal educational activities, we connect both of our hemispheres and at the same time use the strengths of each. Thanks to the change of environment, frequent movement, the application of the principles of play, the use of different tools, music and visualisation, we engage the right hemisphere and thereby deliberately activate emotions. At the same time, we might also generalise and present different theories or statistics, if relevant to the activity, which involves reason. These practices help participants to really remember what they have learned, while not being so tired.

What are useful tips to learn about climate change in a community garden?

  1. Start with yourself – Find out how you learn, what works for you and what doesn’t. Get to know other people’s theories and approaches and be prepared for the fact that different individuals may learn differently.
  2. Learn by doing – Decide on what kind of climate friendly activities you would like to start. The community-building elements include joint activities, clean-ups, celebrations, discussions and planning. It is good for different elements to be represented and to balance the part of forming the physical, as well as the mental.
  3. Rotate activities – People learn in different ways. Use a variety of activities and change the dynamics, forms and ways of working. This will ensure that learning is effective for all participants.  Not every particular activity might be effective to all, but overall the set of different activities should work.
  4. Create activities that go outside the comfort zone – In non-formal education, we try to work with participants to get them into a zone of tension so they can learn new things or old things in new ways. Like being creative. At the end of the activity, we have to give unconditional space to the “human brain” to turn the experience into learning.
  5. Create a safe environment – A safe environment is important even more if we use the garden instruments.
  6. Use mind maps – It is a spatial notation of concepts, where they are linked by the interrelationships shown. In terms of learning, this form of notation is very useful for many people because it increases the percentage of concepts remembered.
  7. Visualise it all – Think of the laws of our memory. When you say something, few people remember it, because remember it verbatim. It’s a good idea to visualise the assignment, at least write it down in a visible place. Perfect is to use symbols and pictures.

PEŠEK, Tomáš, Tibor ŠKRABSKÝ, Monika NOVOSÁDOVÁ and Jolana DOČKALOVÁ. Slabikář neformálního vzdělávání v práci s mládeží, 2019, p. 29-32.