C. Education

Plant collections are a major resource for education about plants, their importance in every aspect of our lives and of other animals, and in the maintenance of the biological environment. From a respect for plant life comes recognition of the need for the sustainable use of the world’s biological resources. Collections can be used for education throughout life, from pre-school activities to learning in retirement; and in formal and informal teaching linked to schools, colleges and universities and through outreach into the community.

In addition to plant biology and related environmental sciences, and the art and science of horticulture, a range of subjects in the school curriculum can be taught using plants. Gardens can be especially suited to imaginative cross-curricular work, thus linking the arts, design and languages with science, but teachers usually need assistance with the use of a garden in this way. Plant collections have a major role to play in inspiring the next generation of horticulturists, field botanists and conservationists.

Collections are well suited for the promotion of life-long learning through talks, demonstrations, courses and guided tours, as well as through exhibitions, self-guided trails and audio-visual presentations. Issues that can be explored may include the public understanding of science, plant conservation and sustainability. Gardens should seek to employ qualified education staff wherever possible and encourage the development of communication skills among all members of staff.

PlantNetwork aims to promote and increase the use of plant collections for education and inspire an interest in plants in people of all ages.

PlantNetwork has:

  • held a conference, in conjunction with BGEN, titled From 4 to 94: New Audiences for a New Century at the University of Oxford Botanic Garden, in April 2001.
  • held a Plant Records Group meeting on The Information Trail. How do you collect good data? At Westonbirt Arboretum in November 2002

To maintain these achievements, PlantNetwork will:

  • continue to encourage its members to establish sound education policies for the use of their collections ·
  • encourage the use of plant collections for education and interpretation, even a simple message helps to increase the public’s understanding of the value of plants
  • promote courses in Heritage and Botanical Horticulture as a credible educational attainment
  • encourage collection holders to employ trained education staff
  • continue to liase and run joint training sessions with the Botanic Gardens Education Network (BGEN)
  • host further workshops on research into the public understanding of science through the use of living plant collections
  • encourage the use of individual staff expertise and training of staff in educational and presentational skills
  • develop relationships with the Committee on the Public Understanding of Science and other relevant bodies
  • strengthen its relationship with Friends’ groups, knowing that in many cases they fund educational activities in botanic gardens and organise educational events
  • seek to draw on the skills of other bodies, such as museums and galleries, as necessary, in developing educational programmes and activities, including interpretation
  • encourage all staff in botanic, and similar, gardens to be involved in education, not just education staff.
  • The following policies are also relevant in delivering the Education policy: