G. W. S Brewer.

Educational school gardening and handwork; online

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Online LibraryG. W. S BrewerEducational school gardening and handwork; → online text (page 1 of 11)
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A handsome flower border Chard Tatworth C. School.







Inspector of Educational School Gardening,
Somerset County Education Committee



Chairman of the Somerset County Council

Cambridge :
at the University Press






THIS work on Educational School Gardening is an
endeavour to carry into practical school life
the spirit of the following extract from Jock of the
Bmhveld. "Boys is like pups you got ter help 'em
some ; but not too much, an' not too soon. They got
ter larn themselves. I reckon ef a man's never made a
mistake he's never had a good lesson. Ef you don't pay
for a thing you don't know what it's worth ; and mistakes
is part o' the price o' knowledge the other part is
work ! But mistakes is the part you don't like payin' :
thet's why you remember it. You save a boy from
makin' mistakes, and ef he's got good stuff in him most
like you spoil it. He don't know anything properly,
'cause he don't think ; and he don't think, 'cause you
saved him the trouble an' he never learned how ! He
don't know the meanin' o' consequences and risks, 'cause
you kep' 'em off him !

An' bymbye he gets ter believe it's born in him ter
go right, an' knows everything, an' can't go wrong ; an'
ef things don't pan out in the end he reckons it's jus' bad
luck ! No ! Sirree ! Ef he's got ter swim you let him
know right there that the water's deep an' thar ain't no
one to hoi' him up, an' ef he don't wade in an' larn, it's
goin' ter be his funeral ! "

(I. W. S. B.

1 September 1913




I HAVE been asked to write a few words of
introduction to this little volume, and I do so
with pleasure.

AVe are all conscious now-a-days that there
is a widespread dissatisfaction with our system
of elementary education. It is said that by
giving too much "bookish" instruction it is
unfitting our children in the rural districts for
their "natural future" on the land and en-
couraging them to seek for clerical employment
in the towns to the detriment of our population
as a whole.

This book may well be commended to those
who sympathise with these views. It is perhaps
through the medium of the school garden, the
school workshop and the school kitchen, that
we can do most to counteract the tendency
complained of. Mr Brewer deserves the thanks
of educationalists for the enlightened spirit in
which he approaches his subject. He shows
how, under wise guidance, the school garden

viii Introduction

may become the means of training boys in self-
help, initiative, and the capacity for finding
things out for themselves, and so learning the
valuable lessons that only mistakes can teach.
Mr Brewer believes that many school lessons,
e.g., nature study, arithmetic, drawing, mensura-
tion and composition, may be rendered more
interesting and living by taking their subjects
from the school garden. There is no doubt
that progress in both literary and practical
work is promoted by such intelligent co-ordina-
tion. Teachers should find the book suggestive
and full of practical hints and ingenious devices.
There is, moreover, a still more important
object which the author seems to have in view,
namely, the formation of character in the train-
ing of boys in habits of industry, co-operation,
and in what may be called the broad scientific


September 191,3



1. Thoughts on School Gardening Aims and Principles . 1

2. "A Beginning" 10

3. "My "Garden 16

4. Descriptive Work 23

r>. Xature Study 29

6. The Garden and the Cookery Classes .... 46

7. A School Garden Company 48

8. The Recording of Garden Work What Books shall be

kept for Garden Work? "><)

'.). The School Museum 56

10. Experimental Work in the Garden 63

11. Garden Hints 81

12. The School Beautiful 86

13. Tools and the Tool Shed 89

14. Exhibiting 91

15 Evening Continuation Schools 95

16. Woodwork and Metal work 99

Exercises 169

Helps 184

Index 187


A handsome flower border. Chard Tatworth C. School Frontispiece


Plan of Nailsworth Boys' School Gardens . . 11

Plan of Part of Plot 5, Nailsworth School Gardens 19

Cardboard strip 42

Graph of broad bean showing influence of weather

on growth . 43

Portfolio for garden papers ..... 53

Beetles pinned 60

Method of setting butterfly 61

Plant markers 103

Plant support 104

Garden plot marker . 105

A webber 106

Spade cleaner 107

Museum stand 108

Plant label 109

A soil firmer . . . . . . . .110

Soil treader Ill

Hanging flower baskets 112

Drill makers 113, 114

Potato box llo

A sieve 116

Leaves scraper 116

Bird clappers 117

A wind clapper 118

A hand barrow 119

Pot stand for bottled fruit 120

Jam stirrer . . . . . . . . .121

Potting stick 122

Boot scrapers 123, 124

Dibbers 125, 126, 127

List of Illustrations xi


A rake . 128

Garden reels 129

A hydrometer 130

A wind vane ........ 132

Butterfly or specimen case 133

IMsplay case . . . . . . . .135

Larva> boxes . 136, 137

Setting board 138

Observation box 139

Thermometer stand 140

Plant protector 141

Moveable frames 142, 143

Plant protector 144

Fruit drying tray 145

Seed cabinet 146

Seed cupboard 147

Seed cabinet 148

Pea guard 149

A tool shed 150

Bracket in steel 151

Bracket in wood 152

Tool rack 152

Plant propagator ....... 154

Light rustic woodwork ..... 155

Hose pillar 157

Rustic seat 158

Window box 159

Plant box 160

Stands for plant box 100

Plant box ........ 161

Garden basket 162

Mould for concrete edging 163

Funnel for rain gauge 164

Hoe 16.3

Garden trowel . 166

Garden reel . . . . . . . .167


THERE are many so-called school garden books in
the market, but the large majority of these confine their
attention almost entirely to the cultivation and raising
of crops. The connection of the garden with the school
is usually omitted or only briefly touched upon. It is,
therefore, the aim of the present work to treat the
subject from an educational point of view. Gardening
operations, as such, will not be described although much
gardening information will be given.

Personally I find that fewer teachers fail from lack
of horticultural knowledge than from the want of
knowing how and in what ways that knowledge may and
should be used as a means of education. The real value
of school gardening is, as yet, hardly appreciated, chiefly
perhaps because it is looked upon, not as an educational
handwork subject, but as a means of imparting know-
ledge of a country pursuit. There are thousands of
schools without much hope, under present conditions,
of having woodwork or other manual classes, to which
school gardening could be made to appeal, provided the
subject was put upon a different footing and had a
different outlook.

From experience in teaching both woodwork and
school gardening I can, without hesitation maintain that

2 Edveational School Gardening

school gardening may be made as valuable an educational
subject as woodwork, and that, too, without much
technical knowledge on the part of the teacher. As
a matter of fact I find boys like gardening even better
than woodwork. It is well, therefore, at the outset
further to consider the aims and ideas that should
underlie school gardening.

School gardening is not necessarily gardening, any
more than cardboard work in school is box-making ; or
woodwork carpentering. Gardening should be a school
subject, taken as far as possible on the lines of other
school subjects, notably woodwork. The latest principles
of teaching woodwork applied to school gardening would
help to lift this subject into its fit and proper place.
It is in itself a most interesting subject and of utilitarian
value. So far, the latter idea has been the chief aim
and object of the teaching. In some quarters, how-
ever, the subject has been made unduly to correlate
with the work of all classes and in all sorts of subjects
simply for the sake of showing correlation. While it is
important to realise how much of the school work can
be interwoven with the garden work, the subject must
not be taught for the sake of correlation. Such an aim
would be extreme, and should be deprecated. Often,
too, less is thought of the educational value of the
subject to the children, than of what "the man in the
street" will say, if perchance he look over the garden
wall and see a line out of the straight, a boy holding a
tool wrongly, a few weeds growing on a plot, or the
least thing amiss.

Much may be learnt through our mistakes and hence
a few things out of the straight, or a crop of weeds in
a particular spot, may have, if rightly used, an immense

Thoughts on School Gardening 3

educational value. Hence I would urge that in dealing
with school garden work all idea of pandering to the
man in the street should be ignored rather, get him
to take a walk round the garden with yourself as guide
and then quietly point out some of the things that are
being done. Schoolmasters, it has been stated, should
be masters on their own quarter-decks. This applies
particularly to gardening. A schoolmaster should not
mind if he is not an expert at gardening ; he should be
an expert at teaching, and it is the teaching that is the

It has already been mentioned that the methods of
teaching woodwork might advantageously be applied
to the teaching of school gardening, and, therefore, I
will first go briefly over the ground dealing with this
matter. In handicraft work, except perhaps gardening,
the work throughout has to be the scholar's own pro-
duction he is told practically nothing, but by means of
clever and skilful questioning he is led to discover things
for himself, and further to describe and explain things
himself, which previously he had little or no idea of
doing. In other words the successful teacher of to-day
adopts a suggestive method in dealing with his school
subjects. He expects the pupil to take up the sug-
gestions, develop ideas, discover facts, form judgments,
and so make these things part and parcel of himself.
What then the pupil has done for himself and of himself,
he is likely to make part of himself for use on future
occasions. It is, however, not the exact reproduction
of an exercise worked that is of importance, but the
means of finding out things for himself concerning an
exercise. A child thus trained can be relied upon in other
situations to exercise his faculties and work for himself


4 Educational School Gardening

There are occasions when telling must be resorted
to, when facts are dealt with which the pupil has no
acquaintance with or no means of finding out for
himself. Personally I find that there are very few facts
that a scholar cannot be made to discover for himself.
If this attitude of making the scholar rely upon him-
self is adopted with all the school subjects, it Avill
not only develop self-reliance, but a number of other
good qualities as well, among which we may name,
observation, perseverance, judgment, a trained reason,
and a knowledge of how to acquire further informa-

To some, such a method of teaching as has been
outlined may seem a little absurd, but I would say,
give it a fair trial before condemning it. At first it
may prove difficult for a teacher to avoid telling or
showing the children every new step or alteration
needed and what is more, it may mean at first more
labour and more care on the part of the teacher but if
persisted in, it will later be much easier and pleasanter
for him and the results achieved infinitely more pleasing.
For instance, suppose a drawing lesson is proceeding
dealing with a dandelion leaf. Some teachers at once
make sketches on the blackboard, and give full, very
full, instructions to the scholars as to what THEY will
see and how they should proceed. The result of such
a lesson is more often than not a matter of disappoint-
ment, for after all the explanation and instructions have
been given a large proportion of the class make funda-
mental mistakes in their drawings because THEY have
not really seen IT is THE TEACHER WHO HAS SEEN. A
method of teaching such as this is frequently employed
lesson after lesson and in all sorts of subjects with the

Thoughts on School Gardening 5

consequence that the children learn to rely upon the
teacher to a very large extent.

A much better plan is to let each child have a leaf
and then go round the class, talk to one scholar here,
another there, asking each in turn pertinent questions
"Why do you do this, that or the other thing?" "What
does this part represent ? " " Compare this line or part
with the original." " If this line on the object were
continued, in which direction would it go?" "Does
your line representing this go in a similar direction ? "
The scholar thus catechised is perforce obliged to look
for himself and will thus often be led to see things
which he never saw before. The teacher must not
only make the scholar see things for himself but see
also that he expresses them himself. The fact is that
while the scholar is thus employed he is learning the
HABIT of depending upon himself. It is said that " A
bundle of habits makes the character." If the teacher
can get the scholar to form good habits, he is helping in
the great work of moulding the scholar's future welfare
a matter of supreme importance.

In taking a class by this method do not try to cover
too much ground with each child at first, just give two
or three suggestions and pass on to another child. This
will enable the teacher to get round his class probably
once or twice during the lesson. In a later part of the
lesson, or on a future occasion, new steps may be added
to the progress of each. What a scholar learns in this
way he will be able to make use of himself in his next
drawing lesson. In some schools marks are given for
the finished drawing. These marks are usually awarded
by the teacher. Where such is the case a change might
be tried by making the scholars value their own work.

6 Educational School Gardening

Thus suppose 10 marks to be the maximum for the
drawing of the dandelion. A scholar is asked to say
how many marks he considers his work worth, de-
ducting, say, one mark for each pronounced fault or
bit of bad work. The boy after some consideration
thinks his effort is worth six marks. You then ask
him for what he has taken off four marks and for
this he must show his reason. If the teacher thinks the
marks satisfactory, they are allowed. The value of this
system lies in the fact that again the scholar has to
depend upon himself, and further than that he learns to
find out wherein lie his own weaknesses and faults, and
these recognised there is hope of efforts being made to
improve on future occasions. This method of marking
should appeal especially to handicraft subjects, such as
modelling, woodwork, etc.

A woodwork class may work somewhat as follows
after the first few lessons. Before a scholar does any
practical work he makes a drawing. This drawing
should, in the case of ruler work, be to scale and
English or Metric measurements may be employed.
The drawing may be made in various ways so as to
ensure a thorough understanding of drawings and their
meanings. Thus, a model is given to a boy who measures
it, draws a plan and elevations, etc. Isometric and
oblique sketches or drawings may also be required of
the model or of some part of it. Sometimes an oblique
view of an object, dimensioned, is given to a scholar front
which he is required to draw plan and elevation. At
another time a sketch of plan with data of other measure-
ments is given and an elevation asked for. The drawing
completed, the amount and kind of material from which
to make the object is written down. For some models

Thoughts on School Gardening 7

a rough sketch of how the wood to be used may be. set
out to best advantage may be asked for. While the
boy is making the model the teacher may question him
concerning the wood he is using, the tools employed,
precautions to take, etc. The questions naturally would
be such that the scholar could answer from his own
store of knowledge or observation. For example, sup-
pose a piece of American White Wood is being used.
The boy could tell the colour, freedom from knots,
width of plank, and therefore from these facts, ap-
proximate diameter of tree, few branches low down,
hence grown in a forest ; ease of working, nice finish,
grain, annual rings. If the facts concerning the forma-
tion of annual rings are known, then by comparison with
specimens of other woods such as yellow deal it can be
seen that the annual rings are all about the same
distance apart in width unlike deal. This knowledge
should show that American White Wood probably grew
in a country where the amount of sunlight was about
the same each year. A little questioning in geography
would soon show that the wood is likely to be grown in
America. Thus it will be seen that a very large part of
the story of American White Wood has been developed
from the boy's own observational and reasoning powers.
A scholar so taught is likely to try to find out from
other sources more about this wood. Work of this
nature must make a scholar think and think to some
purpose too, and doing this gives him what may be
termed "an attitude of mind." His judging as well
as his observational faculties are well exercised. It is
this attitude of mind that means so much in educating
a scholar. The same principles can be applied with ease
to school gardening, if only the work is undertaken with

8 Educational School Gardening

the intent to make it educational and not for the purpose
of producing gardeners. School gardening may succeed
to some extent even if worked on these latter narrow
lines, but how much more might it succeed if conducted
on a sound educational basis ? The gardens exist for
the scholars, not the scholars for the gardens. I shall
endeavour in the following pages to put forth a number
of suggestions, which I hope will appeal strongly to
teachers, and so lead to school gardening (where facilities
exist for its adoption) taking its fit and proper place as
one of our leading educational subjects. There is no
question of boys liking it, they simply revel in it. It is
a " live " subject in which they can see tangible results
and, therefore, they are the more keenly interested. It
forms a break from the ordinary school curriculum
and is on that account very welcome. Teacher and
taught meet in a different atmosphere (often in more
than one sense) and on slightly different terms. This
change is beneficial to master and pupil alike. There is
not the need for the strict silence of the schoolroom.
Further, gardening is a sort of mutual work appealing
strongly to the taught. While thus the boy is gaining
much educationally in connection with his garden work
he should at the same time gain much useful and
practical knowledge of new methods and aims in culture
and garden practice, so that he may go home and
describe to his father how WE do it in the school garden,
and the different results therein achieved, and hence by
this means the gospel of the best ways of cultivation
may be slowly but surely spread. The boy has an open
mind, while that of his father is often narrow and fixed
for the father prefers to cultivate as his father before
him cultivated the boy by means of the school garden

Thoughts on School Gardening 9

if properly worked will in course of time alter this state
of affairs.

Another feature of school gardening is that it is
likely to be an inducement to take up gardening as a
hobby by many of the scholars in after school days,
and if only a small proportion of the scholars follow up
the subject in this spirit, it will have justified its exist-
ence as an integral part of the school curriculum. Too
often, now-a-days, boys no sooner leave school than their
whole minds are fastened upon sport the watching and
talking of the play of others. When this happens it is
not long ere the boy deteriorates. The daily occupation
of many scholars after leaving school is simply to attend
to a machine, and thus in time they become narrow and
mechanical : deterioration again. Nothing is better than
to provide such youths with a healthy and profitable
hobby such as gardening.

In the future development of small holdings school
gardening may well take a useful place.

These then are some of the principles underlying this
subject which it is well to bear in mind in connection
with it.

The ideas and suggestions embodied in this book are
not meant to be rigidly followed they are intended to
give lines of thought so that school gardening becomes
a schoolmaster's subject rather than a gardener's

"It is the spirit that giveth light, the letter which killeth."

10 Educational School Gardening


THE school garden should be situated as near the
school as possible. It will thus be much more useful
and valuable than if at a distance.

The size of the garden cannot always be regulated,
but if possible it should contain sufficient land for plots
for the scholars : also a Common Plot, an Experi-
mental Plot, a Fruit Plot and a Flower Border. The
main consideration of course will be the plots for the
boys. These should be, as far as can be arranged, long
and narrow, say 10 yards by 3 yards. This shape allows
a larger number of rows than is possible with a piece of
ground of shorter length and greater width. One or two
boys may work each plot. If two boys work a plot, then
a senior and a junior boy might well work together.
Fourteen boys working on seven plots can be supervised
better and with greater ease than the same number of
boys working on separate plots.

A plan of a school garden as laid out under the
direction of the writer is shown. This garden was
measured, pegged out, paths made and edging put to
the main pathways by the boys themselves. The work
of laying out the ground would not often come in the
life of the school, but when it does come I think the
scholars should take their share in it it thus becomes
essentially " their garden."

The Common Plot, as its name implies, is a piece of ground set apart
for work in common or for practice work. It may be used for both
purposes. For instance, celery and runner beans may not be grown by

A Beginning




Currant fa




Currant bushes




Fruit bushes



Se?rf 5e

Rose briers

1 1 1 TOOL
H ^ | 1 h . V?V?i -*-\

~~j" | FLOWERS j



13 :*



Experimental PioC






Plan of Nailsworth Boys' School Gardens, 1910

12 Educational School Gardening

each individual scholar but a row or two should be cultivated on the
Common Plot. It is not advisable to plant too much winter green stuff
on the boys' plots or the ground will not be available for winter trenching,
etc. Hence this is another crop for the Common Plot. Practice in
planting small seeds may be given on this land. Plants specially
required for the Nature Study lesson may also be grown here. Some of
the less common vegetables, such as Celeriac, Salsify, Endive, should be
grown on the Common Plot.

Experimental Plot. If the garden is large enough it is a good thing
to set apart a portion of ground to be utilised for simple experimental
work, such as will be described later.

Fruit Plot. Each garden should have at least a corner where cuttings
of gooseberry, red and black currants may be raised. Boom might also
be found for growing rhubarb. Grafting and budding of fruit trees and
budding of briers might also be included by those who can undertake

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Online LibraryG. W. S BrewerEducational school gardening and handwork; → online text (page 1 of 11)