Publikation Nr. 3890 - Details|
Hellinger, F., Benkowitz, D. & Lindemann-Matthies, P. (2022). Do radishes and carrots grow in a bunch? Students’ knowledge about the growth of food plants and their ideas of a school garden design, Education Science, 12(5).
School gardens can be places of biodiversity and suitable learning environments for Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). In particular, vegetable patches where students can make their own experiences in food growing are very apt to connect local acting and global thinking, which is one of the main concerns of ESD. Working in a school garden could be a chance to overcome the lack of perception and knowledge about plants and their life cycles, which is described as “plant blindness”. Concerning the impact of school gardening, studies often investigate teachers’ perspectives only. Therefore, in our study, we focused on students. Participants were mainly fifth and sixth graders in middle and grammar school (mean age 12.3 years, n = 2107). With a paper-pencil test, we investigated their knowledge about the growth of 10 selected crop plants and asked them to rate school garden design elements referring to their importance and suitability for taking over responsibility for nature. In addition, we asked for character traits necessary for a successful school gardener. The results showed that about 40% of the students are convinced that carrots and radishes grow in bunches underground, and nearly 50% thought kohlrabi is growing underground as well. Girls performed better than boys. Increasing age and experience in gardening had a positive effect on the answers. In the students’ opinion, fruit trees, birdhouses, and vegetable patches are the most important elements in school gardens. The liking of nature and patience were highly scored skills for successful school gardening. The influence of experiences in gardening on the answers showed the important role that school gardening could play to gain hands-on knowledge about plant growth and thus offer quality education for every student. This would not only contribute to the reduction of plant blindness but answer the requests of ESD and the goals postulated in the Agenda 2030.