Hands-on agri­cul­ture teach­ing

Feilding-Rangitikei Herald - - Taihape - ALIS­TER BROWNE

They do things dif­fer­ently in the coun­try.

When Tai­hape Area School agri­cul­ture teacher James Beat­tie wanted to talk to his class about what makes rab­bits tick, he did the ob­vi­ous thing: shot one and brought it along to school for the kids to dis­sect.

Beat­tie has been re­cently hired by the school to teach agri­cul­tural skills part-time.

Prin­ci­pal Richard McMil­lan said it was a first for the school to have the sub­ject taught by some­one on staff. It has up to 30 agri­cul­ture stu­dents – and given the im­por­tance of the sec­tor to the New Zealand econ­omy, hoped to grow this num­ber.

The school has a farm min­utes away on the south side of Tai­hape, where stu­dents get in­volved in the likes of fenc­ing, stock work, soils, pas­tures, tree plant­ing, and so on.

McMil­lan said the school hoped to add skills like bees and cat­tle to stu­dents’ reper­toire as cour­ses ex­panded. Beat­tie jug­gles be­ing a block man­ager for a mid­sized Tai­hape farm busi­ness with teach­ing up to two days a week.

‘‘I’ve had a small class of NCEA Level 1 and 2 stu­dents who are all con­sid­er­ing farm ca­reers. Most weeks are a mix of the­ory in class and prac­ti­cal out­side. Hav­ing a low teacher-to-stu­dent ra­tio means my stu­dents all get to try ev­ery­thing. They all get their hands dirty and ex­pe­ri­ence real farm­ing.

‘‘This term I’ve also got a day a week with younger stu­dents tak­ing an agri­cul­tural op­tion. This class is in­tended to open the stu­dents’ eyes to the farm­ing in­dus­try, which is such a big earner for New Zealand, and the north­ern Ran­gitı¯kei in par­tic­u­lar.

‘‘Cur­rently, there are plenty of jobs avail­able in the sec­tor for school leavers and even more if they com­plete some ter­tiary train­ing train­ing as well.’’

It’s not just on-farm jobs that are avail­able ei­ther. There were huge num­bers em­ployed in farm sup­port roles, he said.

‘‘Truck driv­ers, ma­chin­ery con­trac­tors, vets and vet nurses, fencers, shear­ers and wool han­dlers, en­gi­neers, me­chan­ics, stock agents and mer­chan­dis­ers, fer­tiliser com­pany staff, pi­lots, and all the other trades­peo­ple who ser­vice our farm businesses ev­ery day.’’

McMil­lan said em­ploy­ing teach­ers ‘‘both qual­i­fied and ac­tu­ally work­ing in their spe­cialised ar­eas to teach ap­plied sub­jects is some­thing all schools should be do­ing more of’’.


Agri­cul­ture stu­dents from Tai­hape Area High get up close and per­sonal with a dead rab­bit.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.