By Lic. Edit María Silva Moronta (1) Co-author: Dr. Jorge Luis Mena Lorenzo (2)
In the bibliographic search carried out, it was found that the topic is not totally exhausted. For decades, research has been carried out that addresses the issue of agroecological studies with an emphasis on sustainable agriculture. It is important to highlight the in-depth study carried out by Zuleima Kuffaty (2004), entitled Strategies of environmental pedagogy with an agroecological approach in the technical schools of the Barinas municipality. Case study: Luís Beltrán Prieto Figueroa technical agricultural school, Barinas municipality, Barinas state, in which the works of Camacaro (1993), Cedeño (1996), Quereguán (1998), Arraga (1998), Zuccaro (2000), among others.
A synthesis of its most novel aspects reflects that the formation of an agroecological thought has been approached from different angles in the educational field. This determination is logical as it is through training processes that transformations can be achieved within and outside the agricultural sector, with a view to sustainable agriculture. The proposals range from academic advice in Environmental Education for teachers who work in Basic Education, from teacher training for the application of the environmental dimension or the use of teaching strategies to consolidate the environmental dimension, in the programmatic contents of basic education. The intention to use the school environment to motivate the study of curricular subjects is significant, as the community offers a whole concentrate of environmental, social and productive experiences that nourish teaching.
Undoubtedly, these results precede and make possible the redirection of the process of integration of the agroecological contents in the logic of the professional thinking of the Middle Technician in Agriculture, during the teaching of the subjects that are managed in this teaching. This is precisely the question to be theoretically substantiated: how to conceive the integration of agroecological contents during the Practical Teaching of Venezuelan Agriculture? The most feasible solution is presented to us through a curricular strategy, consciously assumed by teachers, students and directors as a programmatic curriculum. The closest experience to this end is the All Hands to Sow Program, with a rich legal, governmental, political and educational foundation.
However, the educational practice of the curricular subjects taught in the fourth year of La Providencia, the situation does not show a substantial improvement. This is reflected in the results of the exploration carried out, which included: the study of guiding documents such as the National Training Program for Agrifood Production Technology, the Profile of the Graduate of Agrifood, the Regulations for Methodological Work, the programs of the subjects of the fourth year, surveys of teachers and students, and interviews with managers, in the 2013-2014 academic year.
This investigation allowed to verify as a common element a lack of didactic-methodological resources in the teaching staff that limit the conception, design, execution, and evaluation of teaching activities, where the agroecological content is a transversal axis of transcendence in the training of students. This restricts the possibilities of teachers to enhance agroecological knowledge in students to become active social agents and transformers of their community environment.
In this sense, the present work aims to theoretically base a curricular strategy that enhances the integration of agroecological contents, as transversal axes, during the training process of this professional in the Practical School of Farming La Providencia, Aragua state.
AGROECOLOGY AS A TRANSVERSAL AXIS IN THE PRACTICAL TEACHING OF AGRICULTURE.
The transversality of Agroecology in the Venezuelan National Basic Curriculum is not only because of the noble intention, by seeking the formation of an agroecological and environmentalist thought in children, adolescents and young people. It transcends these limits, and as an effective solution (read absolute) it bursts into the higher spheres of power as lenses that reduce the blindness (alternate with reaping) of decision-makers (usually wealthy), to apply environmentally-friendly production techniques. environment.
It happens, as different authors (Altieri 1992, 1993 and 1999) have said, that it is not enough to take isolated actions around the world, it is necessary to create consciences, because in the end it is the ideas that last, and with them the good practices. At this point, no one will be able to stop applying organic agriculture due to ignorance, while Agroecology has been said and written with sufficiency. However, their schooling is still limited.
The use of the agroecological approach allows, in a practical and simple way, to promote in the individual an attitude of respect towards the environment, their awareness, the search for a response to environmental problems and a behavior of minimizing action of the anthropic impact suffered by the systems agricultural. This approach can be energized through the strategies of environmental pedagogy, through training programs, or other forms. However, in all variants it must be understood that Agroecology aims not only to maximize the production of a particular component, but also to optimize the agroecosystem economically, socially and ecologically (Altieri, 1984).
The author himself acknowledges that the evaluation of the viable behavior of an agroecosystem is carried out taking into account the following properties:
- Sustainability: it is the ability of an agroecosystem to maintain its production, over time, in the face of external changes, considering environmental limitations, its carrying capacity and socioeconomic pressures.
- Equity: a measure of how equitable the distribution of the products and profits generated by the agroecosystem is.
- Stability: it is a measure of production under a set of agro-environmental and socioeconomic conditions.
- Productivity: measures the rate and quantity of production per unit of land or investment.
- Autonomy: it is the internal capacity to supply the flows necessary for production.
It is a common criterion that Agroecology, as an alternative, incorporates an approach to agriculture more linked to the natural environment and more socially sensitive, focused on ecologically sustainable production. Without forgetting, the purely ecological phenomena within the cultivation field, such as predator-prey relationship or crop-weed competition, this science opposes the reduction of biodiversity and the use of all agrochemicals, with the consequent contamination and destruction of the environment, the excessive and inappropriate use of mechanization and irrigation.
Agroecology has not yet indicated its limits. The research and works carried out so far, especially by Altieri (Ob. Cit.), Have formed a set of premises that constitute the epistemological bases of this new emerging science:
- Biological and social systems have agricultural potential.
- This potential has been captured by traditional farmers through a process of trial, error, selection and cultural learning.
- These biological and social systems have co-evolved in such a way that each depends on the feedback of the other.
- The potential of agrarian and social systems can be better served by studying how traditional agricultural cultures have captured that potential.
- The combination of social and ecological knowledge, together with knowledge developed by agricultural sciences, can improve both agroecosystems: traditional and modern.
- Agricultural development places its emphasis on preserving cultural options and agricultural strategies for the future and will consequently have fewer detrimental effects than conventional agricultural science approaches.
Altieri himself (Ob. Cit.) Recognizes that Agroecology is not a closed discipline, that it grows due to the contributions, interaction and evolution with other disciplines, incorporating everything positive that is necessary to contribute to a comprehensive sustainable rural development. This criterion reinforces the idea of teaching Agroecology in full integration with the other subjects. In fact, this area of knowledge is an integrated science, which responds to a well-defined object, with categories, laws, principles and goals to be achieved in the well-being of man as a species.
It is essential, based on the agroecological knowledge and wills and the sustainability of agriculture, to mainstream the entire system of influences until the formation of an environmental awareness in the new generations is achieved. It is not enough for the poorest countries to speak out, it is necessary to convert this science into a curricular matter as a science that is teachable, learnable, developable and assumable by educational policies.
CURRICULUM STRATEGY FOR THE INTEGRATION OF AGROECOLOGICAL CONTENTS AS AN ALTERNATIVE FOR TECHNICAL-PROFESSIONAL TRAINING
The use of curricular strategies as a curricular instrument to energize a certain training area is not new. They are generally supported by the intention of giving a more comprehensive training of the professional, with a social and humanistic approach. Such are the experiences of Cuban Higher Education, where they have been implemented to respond to the lack, in the teaching-learning processes, of lines as important as environmental education, economic education, the formation of a computer culture and the mastery of ICT, knowledge of Cuban history and the profession, command of a foreign language and knowledge of preparation for the defense of the country.
According to Horruitiner (2006) this concept, also called by others as transversal axes, expresses:
"(...) it is related to those general objectives that it is not possible to achieve, with the required level of depth and mastery, from the content of a single discipline and require the additional support of the rest."
This definition complements the criteria of Miranda and Páez (2003), for whom the curricular strategies constitute the projection in a given context, of theoretical, methodological and practical guidelines and their relationships and the system of general actions linked to them, with the purpose of promoting transcendental transformations in the curriculum, which are expressed in qualitative changes in the training of the education professional, in their mode of action and in the result of their educational work.
According to these authors, the most common features of curricular strategies are the following:
- The projection, steps and actions follow the logic of the general, the particular and the singular. In the three training scenarios, it is the profile of the professional that guides the strategy.
- The objectives of the strategy are the result of the contextualization and interaction of the training objectives of the professional profile in the long and short term, in the Study Plan, in the year and in each of the training scenarios.
Thus, it is understood that curricular strategies require the participation of more than one, and sometimes of all the curricular units of the career, obeying the fundamental concepts of the Systems Approach (Bertalanffy, 1976). Those of the exercise of the profession are essential to achieve knowledge, skills and modes of action that effectively contribute to the profile of the graduate modeled in the curriculum.
Thus, a curricular strategy must respond to a gradual derivation whose superior concept is the essence of the professional's profile, what is intended and under what conditions the training must be developed to guarantee an adequate transition through the academic years. Agroecology claims the necessary unity of the different natural sciences with each other and with the social sciences, in order to understand the existing interactions between agronomic, economic and social processes (Redclift and Woodgate, 1997). It claims the essential link that exists between the soil, the plant, the animal and the human being. The internal structure of agroecosystems turns out to be a social construction, a product of the coevolution of human beings with nature.
During the teaching-learning processes of the subjects taught in the fourth year of Technical Education in Agriculture, Agroecology must be integrated as a transversal axis. But integrating agroecological content involves a high degree of commitment between the subjects, the objects of knowledge, the institution and the community. The integration of the contents cannot constitute an addition or addition, since the implementation of the agroecological contents would become an additional burden for the teachers and an obstacle to the adequate transit of students through agroecological learning.
These criteria are related to those proposed by Torres and others (2010), considering that a strategy, line or curricular axis in a certain career, constitutes a pedagogical approach to the teaching process, which is carried out with the purpose of achieving general objectives related to certain knowledge, skills and modes of professional performance, which are key in their training and that it is not possible to achieve them with due depth from the perspective of a single discipline or academic subject.
In this interpretation, the teacher characterizes the contextual conditions in which the teaching of his subject occurs, outlines the goals and paths to follow to achieve stable, lasting and functional learning of agroecological contents, from the logic of his discipline. It would not do much to force these relationships to the point of turning them into a decree, into a regulation that is mandatory. All training is a permanent, systematic and planned process, aimed at providing knowledge that is reverted not only to knowledge, skills and abilities, technical-professional aptitudes, but also to generate changes in attitudes and values.
For this reason, the definition given by Mena (2010) for the integration of the basic basic contents in the logic of professional thinking of the Agronomist in training is assumed, interpreting it as:
The professionalizing and systemic process that generates an integrated teaching of basic sciences (Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics and Biology) in the Agronomy career and that leads students to the progressive transition of their disciplinary knowledge (deep, extensive and broad) to their integrated knowledge (professionalized, fundamentalized and systematized), promoting a stable, lasting and functional appropriation of these matters and their corresponding transferability to the object of the profession.
As can be seen, the definition emphasizes the qualities of this integrated appropriation: stable, durable and functional. Agroecological content must also achieve these qualities, since a certain amount of knowledge cannot be memorized by heart so that after a minimum time they disappear. They must be solid, safe and profound so that the spectrum of experiences is sufficient. They must last over time, be meaningful so that they are not easily forgotten. They must be functional in the sense of their application to diverse development contexts. The term context comes from the Historical-Cultural Approach, which is reinterpreted from psychopedagogical positions by Clemente and Hernández Blasi (2005).
Taking into account the previous precepts, it is defined as a curricular strategy for the integration of agroecological contents, such as:
A systemic, mediated and active process that allows the Agricultural Media Technicians in training the stable, lasting and functional learning of the agroecological contents (knowledge, skills and attitudes), integrated into the logic of each subject, as a consequence of the conscious performance of the teachers, favoring its application in new contexts of agroecological development.
This definition can be structured in two fundamental dimensions, both related to the performance of teachers and students to develop the curricular strategy. They are the two most important subjects, the ones who must overcome the obstacles of teaching and learning together. Performance evaluation is practically essential in order to verify the current state of what you know and what you know how to do.
The system of indicators to measure each dimension is shown below, a result that will be shown in a second article.
- Dimension I. Conscious performance of teachers.
- Systematic compliance with the planned improvement.
- Knowledge about the Medium Technician training model.
- Knowledge about Agroecology and Sustainable Agriculture.
- Recognition of Agroecology for the training of technicians.
- Positive predisposition to the assimilation of agroecological content in an integrated way by students.
- Willingness to participate in the agroecological curricular strategy.
- Dimension II. Learning of agroecological contents.
- Understanding of environmental problems.
- Recognition of the collective solution to environmental problems.
- Preference for the study of topics related to Agroecology.
- Willingness to participate in agroecological activities.
- Collaborative spirit for social intervention.
- Recognition of the multidisciplinary nature of Agroecology.
The curricular strategy for the integration of agroecological contents, as an alternative for the training of the Middle Technician in Agriculture, has the following structure:
I. Theoretical-methodological foundation of the curricular strategy:
- § Determination of the foundations and theoretical references that support the curricular model for the formation of the Middle Technician in Agriculture and its contextualization in the academic year.
- § Identification of the principles and categories that condition the concretion of the curricular strategy.
- § Characterization of the performance of the subjects and the institution for the application of the curricular strategy.
II. Diagnosis and contextualization of the performance of the Middle Technician in Agriculture, the professors and the institution.
III. Training of teaching staff for the application of the curricular strategy:
- § Sensitization of the subjects to participate in the application and development of the strategy.
- § Socialization of the system of activities for the integration of agroecological contents.
- § Preparation of teachers and managers for the development of the strategy.
- § Search for information in the community for the contextualization of the curricular strategy.
- § Collective feedback of the theoretical-methodological bases of the curricular strategy.
IV. Didactic design (didactic components) of the curricular strategy:
- § Elaboration of the didactic components of each content integration activity.
- § Identification of the learning scenarios, characterization.
- § Monitoring of professional performance.
- § Evaluation of the transformation of pedagogical practice and professional development.
- § Feedback.
V. Methodological implications necessary for the success of the strategy.
SAW. Evaluation of the results of the application of the curricular strategy.
SAW. Socialization of the results of the curricular strategy with the factors involved in the process.
A curricular strategy of such magnitude is transcended by the integration of agroecological contents and sustains it, if it places at its center the integrated appropriation of the historical-social experiences by the students and promptly attends to the quality of the mediations and interventions of the teachers. during the integrated management of teaching activities (Mena, Oc. cit.). In this way, it is necessary to recognize in the curricular strategy the foundations of the Historical-Cultural Approach, proposed by L. S. Vigotski (1896-1934) and his followers.
The logical-conceptual structure of a curricular strategy for the integration of agroecological contents in the Practical Teaching of Agriculture must contain certain premises such as:
ü The role of Agroecology as an emerging, revolutionary and transcendent science, which supports a deep vision of agri-food production and proposes lifestyles. In this sense, Agroecology must be interpreted as a science, process and mode of behavior before life.
ü The integration of agroecological contents, as transversal axes, in the curricular subjects that form the Middle Technician in Agriculture, allows them to discern between the unified, totalizing and integral character with which the agricultural nature exists and is perceived and the incomplete, fragmented and historically conditioned of the knowledge with which it tries to analyze, explain and generalize its social implications.
ü The success of the curricular strategy, translated into the formation of an agroecological and sustainable agriculture thinking in the technicians in training, depends on the integrated actions of students, teachers, institutional managers and the community itself.