Examining the opportunities for agricultural experiences as part of Scottish secondary school pupils’ learning under Curriculum for Excellence

Brett, Sophie Natasha (2022) Examining the opportunities for agricultural experiences as part of Scottish secondary school pupils’ learning under Curriculum for Excellence. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Society is increasingly disconnected from the processes and practices of agriculture as food production, and therefore the true cost and value of food. A way in which to overcome this disconnect would be to increase agricultural literacy levels through education.

Learning outside the classroom has been shown to benefit children and young people including personal development and increased care towards the environment. Sustainability learning, including outdoor learning, as an approach to developing sustainable behaviours is the focus of much research. There is, however, a gap in research on the potential for agricultural learning experiences that demonstrate the positive role agriculture plays within global environmental systems. Agriculture is often portrayed in a negative framing in regard to the impacts of human action on the environment.

The aim of this study was to examine opportunities for Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) to deliver lasting impressions of farming and food production for secondary school pupils in Scotland through a concept of agricultural experiences. This research was conducted through qualitatively-driven mixed methods consisting of survey, interview, and focus group methodology with a range of school-based and rural-based participants.

The research found that CfE inadvertently maintains an anti-rural position, reflected in the lack of any meaningful reference to agriculture within the Experiences and Outcomes; framing agriculture within a context of negative environmental impact. There exist clear opportunities, as well multiple benefits, for agricultural experiences under CfE learning, however, there remain challenges for implementation within current CfE cultures and structures. Pupils and teachers recognised the value of agricultural experiences to deliver meaningful experiential learning experiences, as well as developing knowledge and skills for lifelong learning. Scottish agricultural stakeholders and farmers feel that media misrepresentation contributes to societal disconnect and thus the attitudes and perceptions of agriculture, particularly livestock farming, while often negating to recognise the primary function of agriculture-as-food within the current challenges facing global environmental systems.

Five recommendations are put forward as a result of this research: Words Matter, Framing Farming, Balanced Environmental Education, Build Partnerships, and Be Bold. These capture ways in which agriculture and agricultural experiences can be better incorporated through a ‘Minimum Effort Strategy’ which would strengthen current CfE structures, and a ‘Radical Strategy’ which envisions a planetary or agricultural phronesis challenging us to a transformation in sustainability learning that re-imagines our human relation to the world.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Supported by funding from the Mains of Loirston Charitable Trust.
Keywords: Rural life, farmer misrepresentation, interdisciplinary learning, outdoor learning, agricultural phronesis, agricultural literacy.
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Interdisciplinary Studies
Supervisor's Name: Wood, Dr. Bethan and Davis, Professor Bob and Roberts, Professor Dave
Date of Award: 2022
Depositing User: Theses Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2022-82734
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 07 Mar 2022 14:55
Last Modified: 08 Apr 2022 16:46
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.82734
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/82734

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