This project (2020-1-SE01-KA203-077872) has been funded with support from the European Commission. This web site reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

Sean O'Farrell Cloncannon BioFarm

Cloncannon Farm/LIT
Syllabus, Workshop
Thematic Area
Multi-disciplinary , Natural Sciences
Factual description
This project is based on Cloncannon Biodynamic Farm in Tipperary. The project involves field studies visit from Secondary school Leaving Certificate students studying Biology/Ecology or Agricultural Science.

The farm owner Sean O’Farrell has developed his working farm guided by Biodynamic principles. The farm is both a working and demonstration farm to show the complexity of environmental sustainability.

The farm illustrates the principles for sustainable agriculture and an additional farm project based on teaching adds value to the farm as well as teaching the complexity of biodiversity.

The teaching process is based on the following phases:

Formal Syllabus: The foundation of this teaching is based in the formal syllabus document for the leaving Certificate subject created by the Department of Education and Skills.

Delivery: Sean and his staff have then developed a framework and model which meets the students on arrival and over the 4 hours of the Field studies trip.

Introduction to the farm and its working principles.

Exercise: Identifying the key geological and biodiversity markers on the farm followed by discussion.

Exercise: Identification of the biodiversity of the farm using Quadrant sampling grids.

Link to syllabus through data gathering from the sampling exercise and exploration of the abiotic, biotic, climatic and edaphic factors as applied to terrestrial environments.

Examination of habitat suitability and adaptive factors.

Return to classroom: Students employ the data collected on the farm to create statistical analyses of the material.

The approach brings the student to the real environment and the living system and the field study allows for integration of the theory practice element. Many students are from city based schools which is an additional advantage.
Relevance in complex systems
By linking theory to practice in understanding systems thinking through linking the formal learning in the classroom which grounds the students theoretical understanding of the topic is critical but in terms of longer term impact to seeing the complexity of biodiversity in practice is critical.

The link between the formal educational/exam based system and living systems is critical. It facilitates a trans disciplinary approach to teaching/learning.

It facilitates and engagement between our Natural Resources and scientific principles which measure the richness of these lives.
Strong points
It is a transdisciplinary project which facilitates co-production of knowledge between the formal an informal learning systems.

It is a dynamic teaching process facilitating learning in the field and data collected during the field trip will be further analysed and used as part of classroom teaching, which extends the teaching process.

The use of practical exemplars which demonstrate theory in practice is critically important.
Transferability potential
The use of practical exemplars which demonstrate theory in practice is critically important, use of opportunities for virtual teaching could also be further explored.