POSTED ON BEHALF OF AUDREY VAN GILDER
I found this pretty wonderful “guide to composting” for schools, created by a Connecticut middle school after its successful efforts to reduce waste, and written in a way to make the process replicable.
Young kids would likely be most excited by the idea of participating in composting, but ideally this resource can be applied to any formal or informal educational setting, especially those with science or conservation objectives. Rural schools might have an initial advantage in starting composting projects because the know-how, infrastructure, and space are plentiful, but composting in an urban setting can be just as useful (especially with the popularization of urban gardens and farms).
Composting fits into a school’s culture and curriculum in many different ways, and students can be active participants in a process that not only results in a less harmful end product (thereby benefiting the community and surrounding environment), but that also engages them in a scientific, hands-on, never-ending project. After an administration makes the logistical arrangements, the rest is up to teachers to involve their students in an activity with tangible results and with the potential to foster increased awareness of, concern for and engagement with the environment. Beginning on page 43, the Connecticut manual lays out specific lesson plans that educators can use as guides for incorporating the school’s composting efforts into classrooms. Each asks students to not only participate in the compost process, but also to reflect on the experience and how it changed their conception of waste.
Teaching and participating in a compost program most fully supports the community and skill building pillars of peace education. The knowledge and skills students can gain even through a short composting stint are substantial and can influence the choices they make outside school. But the potential for community building that this resource has extends far beyond the individual students, contributing to a community of engaged, environmentally thoughtful, and conscientious learners.