Transformative effects of schoolgrounds programs: 5 teacher stories
Cutter-Mackenzie, A & Widdop-Quinton, H 2007, 'Transformative effects of schoolgrounds programs: 5 teacher stories', paper presented to 4th International Conference on Environment Education, Ahmedabad, India, 24-28 November.
A significant number of Australian schools are implementing greening projects. Grant and Littlejohn describe this as “transforming barren expanses of asphalt and frayed grass into exciting natural spaces for learning, playing and socialising” (2001, pg.2). The benefits of greening projects have become increasingly more convincing to schools especially with the advent of supporting research and funding increases for this area (Sterling, 2001).
This paper reports the stories (research) of 5 teachers experience with a recently developed program, Schoolgrounds for Learning which was designed and delivered by the Gould Group1 (Cutter-Mackenzie, 2007). The teachers researched their schoolgrounds practice over 6 months. Teachers were given a research pack containing a journal, camera and research tips. All teacher researchers were also supported by a mentor (Monash researcher). The teachers’ research revealed significant insights and findings about the program and school greening projects more broadly. Their research showed that the program acted as a springboard leading to other sustainability initiatives, in addition to providing an impetus or driver for teacher enthusiasm, commitment and change in adopting environmental education / sustainability teaching and learning pedagogies. In short, the paper outlines the transformative effects of schoolgrounds approaches on teaching and learning and the social and ecological culture of schools.