And what do worms have to do with this anyway?
Well, everything actually. Charles Darwin referred to earthworms as natures ploughs. Much like human engineers, worms change the structure of their environment. Worms aerate soils and breakdown dead organic matter in a process known as decomposition. Worms eat and pass organic matter allowing bacteria and fungi to release nutrients. These nutrients then become available to living plants and for this reason are important to the process of growing food plants. They oxygenate soils and unlock vital nutrients for plant growth.
Growing food plants is becoming more commonplace in Early Learning Centres Australia wide, and this is reflective of the general movement towards sustainable practices world wide. National Education Laws which govern the Quality Education Standards and Framework for best practices in Early Learning now make the embedding of sustainability mandatory. There exists now, and out of necessity, a drive towards educating Australia’s educators about sustainability. But what does sustainability look like? What is it comprised of? There are many correct answers to these questions, but I think the best answers are those which incorporate Australia’s future adults; todays children at the coalface of learning.
Yes we can have solar panels installed and little signs near all the light switches and appliances reminding us to ‘switch off’, but none of these actions actually educate children in sustainability – most often the children cannot reach or read these signs and switches. These solutions are a good place to start for adults but what if sustainability could reach beyond after market infrastructure and upgrades, extend beyond the realm of the adult and into classroom front lines and become an integral part of service philosophies?
What I’m talking about is sustainability in action and in action on a daily basis, with policy, practices and systems to support it ongoing. Many educators struggle to implement sustainability in line with National Quality Standards (NQS) mainly because they don’t know how or where to begin. And with good reason. Macquarie University introduced a unit of study relating to sustainable practice only this year and there are not many resources relating to sustainability available. And what is out there in order to comply with NQS, is characteristically so broad that it is of very little practical value to the educator who is still trying to grasp the concepts of sustainability. And how can one teach what one does not yet have a grasp of?
To find out more about the Backyard in a Box resources and how these can help you implement sustainability and chance culture in your centre visit www.backyardinabox.com.au