IT would be easy to think kids don't care about their communities.
They aren't old enough to vote, the conditions of roads don't concern them and they generally aren't going to be upset by what flags fly above the council chambers.
But when presented with an issue, kids can show a surprising amount of empathy and social concern.
This, of course, can be manipulated by unscrupulous types with an agenda to push, but that is not usually the case with primary school teachers whose priority is to engage young minds and foster curiosity.
Most Australian students (one would hope) will do several units throughout their younger years on farming and food production.
There are two great recent examples that demonstrate inventive ways in which children were shown things from an agricultural perspective.
One story is about the new booklet, Buzz Off Fruit Fly, which is available for South Australian schools.
The booklet, an initiative of the SA government, is filled with drawings and graphics that highlight the serious issue of fruit flies.
The booklet is part of an overall package which includes quizzes, tuckshop posters, teacher resources, videos, images, signs and plenty more.
They are also correctly priced: free.
- Burnside Primary School students given virtual tour of mushroom farm
- George the Farmer delivers free education resources for teachers about agriculture
- Fruit, vegetable and nut playing cards use nutritional value for innovative game
It can be amazing how knowledge absorbed at school can be put into action at home. It could very well be those extra pieces of rotting fruit picked up by the "home garden heroes" that help reduce the spread of the pest.
In a community, everything has a knock-on effect.
Unable to take an excursion to a local mushroom farm (SA Mushrooms), they engaged in a virtual tour via a live video stream.
The children were able to ask questions of the growers and see what goes into producing a crop.
This was backed up by each class involved having its own mushroom kits to grow at school, adding a real and tactile element to the learning.
The organisations behind both projects should be congratulated for making agriculture part of the school curriculum.
There are ripple effects from such learning.
It's not even about trying to entice or secure young people to careers in agriculture; it's more basic than that.
It's connecting them with their food, so at least they know that a potato grows below the ground or that a pear grows on a tree, or that mushrooms are nutritious or that fruit flies can reproduce in rotting fruit.
These may be the lessons that become positive habits, long after they've forgotten what the hypotenuse is or how to identify an adverb.
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