Ireland’s long-time school garden advocate, Paddy Madden
School garden a class act
By Fionnuala Fallon
The Irish Times
September 29, 2012
It’s a theme dear to the heart of Paddy Madden, the hugely respected, award-winning environmentalist and educator with 31 years’ experience as a primary teacher, during which time he designed and developed the country’s first wildlife/organic school garden at Scoil Treasa Naofa in Dublin. Since 2003, he has worked as a lecturer at the Marino Institute of Education, training future primary teachers. He’s also the author of many books and papers on school gardens, including the recently revised Go Wild At School, an informative manual on how to create an educational school garden.
In the book’s introduction, Madden writes movingly of the worrying disconnection between children and the natural world caused by modern technology. But, as he explained to me last week, it’s also a disconnection with far-reaching consequences for educators themselves. One telling example he gave was of a class of young trainee teachers that he asked to identify the leaves of 10 native trees. “The very best they could manage was two out of the 10 . . . ” Conversely, if schools and teachers are helped to nourish their pupils’ connection with the natural world from an early age, there’s every evidence that, as Madden so descriptively puts it, “they will have a sense of wonder and mystery about the world around them”. Round about now is the very best time to begin the process of planning, designing and creating these outdoor classrooms, a step-by-step process that should ideally be a collaborative between pupils and teachers, supported by parents. See below for advice on getting started.
See Paddy’s book Go Wild at School
His book is based on his experience working with children in Scoil Treasa Naofa, Donore Avenue, Dublin 8. In 1985 he established Irelands first school wildlife garden. He has also written ‘The School Garden – What to do and when to do it.’ Paddy covers everything from wildlife habitats, making compost, growing vegetables and even grinding corn! An edition with a broad remit where paddy’s school experience shines through. A very well researched book.