“I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.” Teachers at Staford School keep this thought of Confucius in the forefront when planning their day to day lessons. Observation and awareness are the key skills that young Stafordians are taught to develop right from the start. This time, the science teacher of Staford School, Ms. Joshi, decided to take her children out on a field trip, literally, to help them associate better with the lessons in the text book. The students of classes 5, 6, and 7 got a chance to learn and understand the science lessons on farming, and agriculture, by observing the actual farm activities in a wheat field.
The rabi crop-wheat, is ready to harvest in the month of April. The textbook lessons of harvesting a wheat crop came to life when children saw for themselves the threshing, husking, sieving and garnering of grains. The value of food, cash crops, wheat crops and the importance of farming gained relevance when children observed and interacted with the farmers busily harvesting the standing crops in a wheat field on 19th April, 2014.
Earlier in the day, filled with curiosity and excitement, the students of classes 5, 6 and 7 assembled on the campus with their notebooks and pens ready to leave for the trip at 9:30 am. Our Principal Madam spoke a few words of encouragement to the students. She also gave them a few tips on safety and self-care when away from the school. Their science teacher Ms. Shailja Joshi, along with class teachers of each of the classes– Mr. Shiraz Saeed, Mr. Nirbhay Dave, Ms. Jauhar Zaidi and Ms. Aaisha Alvi, respectively, accompanied the students. The students were taken to the wheat farm of Nand Kishore, who was more than happy to help the children learn about the various aspects of farming. The children were very excited because for most of them, this was their first ever trip to a farm. Entering the wheat fields with the golden harvest gleaming in the sun was a treat in itself. Added to it was the pleasant weather which made the trek to the site of threshing enjoyable.
Once on the fields, the children saw for themselves how mature wheat stalks were cut, collected and kept in bundles in the fields. The sight of the huge expanse of the field and the enormous task of harvesting, cleaning and stacking the wheat, gave birth to several questions in the minds of the young Stafordians who wondered how the farmers harvest and clean the crops. What methods they use to separate and clean the grains; what facilities are available to them; how long does it take them to harvest the crop and how much do they earn out of all this effort. All these questions got their answer when they saw farmers performing various tasks on fields.
The children saw the manual harvesting and the methods of separation using a thresher. They learnt to associate words like stalks, hay, chaff , scare crows, thresher and combines with their actual image and functions. They saw for themselves how a thresher- a small machine threshes out the grains and separates it from its husk. The saw how the harvested crop was fed into the thresher and how the stalks got rolled under heavy rollers that exerted immense pressure on them, separating the grains from the wheat ears and stalks. The farmers’ task doesn’t end at threshing. The threshed out crop yields a mix of husk, grains and other impurities which then need to be cleaned through processes such as winnowing, hand picking and sieving.
The students were surprised and even overwhelmed on realizing that so much hard work is involved in the process of harvesting wheat. They were filled with a sense of awe and admiration for the humble farmers who put in back-breaking labor to help our homes and hearths be full of food. The children realized the worth of the tremendous effort that goes into producing wheat which in turn is the raw material for so many products that make their way into our kitchen and onto our platter.
The farmers work hard for us throughout the hot summer day and are worthy of our respect- this realization, that came from real life observation, was worth a book full of lessons on moral values an on learning to respect others. The children saw for themselves and understood that a whole lot of people are involved in bringing food for the country. At the end of the day, this trip is sure to make the children realize that getting food is a difficult job, and wasting food or throwing it in the dustbin is truly a sin. Next time when they will have their share, they will always remember the farmer working hard in the fields and will always be thankful to them.