Meeting at Green Academy in Aarhus

PROGRESS team

The partners of PROGRESS met each other on November 15th for the fourth transnational project meeting at the Green Acadamy in Aarhus. The central theme of this meeting: What is needed to implement sustainability and the SDG’s in our curriculum and didactics to attract more and different kinds of students? In this post a summary of all parts of the program. Some of these will also be posted in more detail as Good Practices in separate posts. See the Good practices.

Program November 15, 2022

Danish Educational System

We start the first meeting day with a welcome and presentation of the Danish educational system. Primary school and lower secondary education is mandatory (class 0 – 9, from the age of four). Then pupils have to choose for general upper secondary education, technical and commercial upper secondary education or VET. VET uses the sandwich model: 1/3 theory and 2/3 practice. The amount of students choosing VET is declining. Only 20% of the pupils choose for VET so this is a huge problem for now and the future considering the labour market.

Vision and curriculum of Green Academy

Sustainability is becoming an increasingly important part of Green Academy’s vision, strategy and activities. They provide education in horticulture, landscaping and agriculture. This is presented and discussed and demonstrated during our tour around the campus, executed by fluently English speaking, very enthusiastic and well informed students and teachers. They are obviously very proud of their school.

Some teachers show us their curriculum and stress the fact that these need to be adapted to the demands of a changing world and changed students, who are more critical than they used to be. The Danish ministry of education is responsible for the curricula, the frame work and the end terms. Changing this in time takes a lot effort and often difficult.

The main problems Green Academy has to face is getting enough qualified teachers and keeping the skills of the teachers up to date.

Gartenieret Pederson

We end today’s program with a visit to a primula (and other plants) nursery: Gartneriet Pedersen. The owner is constantly searching for new ways to run the nursery with sustainable solutions. His company is already very sustainable, circular, it uses less water (because of re-using it) and heating and less and less pesticides. An example for all nurseries. The company offers an internship to 4 to 5 students from Green Academy every year. A perfect place to learn about sustainability.

In the evening we enjoy a typical Danish diner.

Program November 16, 2022

After an early breakfast in the school canteen we leave on the second day to go to the agricultural department of Green Academy

Marina Stannov from the municipality, department of Children and Youth, tells about the assignment she has: make sure that more young people choose vocational education. The points she made:

  • Framework matters (national regulation, city council decisions et…).
  • Framing matters (what/whose problem we are trying to solve).
  • Local initiatives/local collaboration can make a positive difference.
  • Previous initiatives haven’t proved sustainable in the long run–but present initiatives can build on their foundations/activities.

Aarhus municipality goals and projects

She cooperates with Green Academy on this. There are 65.000 children in the municipality and 10.000 employees. The municipality translates the legal framework and national goals into understandable language and tangible goals. There is now a more integrated approach to the problem: government and schools work together through co-creation. Teaching with an outlook to working life, authentic learning by bringing in authentic problems, meaningful learning. Career orientation and guidance should start earlier, not in the last class of primary school. Pupils need to find out where their interests lie. Make it clear where the subjects, they are taught at in school, are needed in the professions, in real life. Open the world for the children; no pushing but showing. Stop talking about VET as a solution to a problem. Later this day we visit the skills, the career experience, organised by the municipality and the schools.

Nature School and Summer camps

Green Academy has his own Nature school (Naturskolen). At Naturskolen they move teaching from the blackboard to reality. They use the natural world around us to work with concrete learning and skills goals in subjects such as maths, biology and social studies, and the framework lends itself well to innovation and collaboration projects. Activities from pre-school to master classes. Children learn about life on a farm, what cows eat, how much water is needed to produce milk, how manure smells and feels, how calves feel. They also learn about another way of feeding: mealworms. How do they look like? How do they feel? How do they taste? How much water do they need before they can be eaten? They learn to see this in relation to the SDGs: pictures with the 17 SDG goals are hanging everywhere in school, clearly visible and relationships are established between the production of food and what that costs the earth (natural resources). Show younger children the real world and let them learn with all senses active.

The Summer camp for children of 12 – 16 years old takes place at the school farm. Sustainability is leading in all subjects on food production; from farm to mouth; climate food printing; importance of seasonal als local food and protein production and climate issues.

Skills competition

After lunch we visit the Skills competition in Aarhus. What an event! Thousands of children, aged about 13 years old, watch the finales of the skills. The competitors need to work with eggs, with wood, with a cutting machine to get the assignments done. Time and execution are leading to get a high ranking which means a starting permit for the National Skills. Exciting!

Wrapp up

The partner meeting is ended as usual with an evaluation of the meeting and the collection of recommendations: what did you learn, what can you use in your own school? It was a very well organised and fruitful meeting. Thank Lotte Skjærbæk and Michael Sejer and all your collegaes!