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Hahas, Walled gardens, Guerilla gardening and Open Educational Practices

3 min read

Inspired by Sheila MacNeiil's brilliant Keynote at this morning and being based on the Sheriff of Cornwall's old Estate, Tremough, I went for a walk around our beautiful campus to capture some of the horticultural references that Sheila used as metaphors for open practice within educational institutions.

The Ha-Ha

The etymology of Tremough suggests it may have come from Tre Moch or Pig Farm (there's probably an amusing irony about farming history and mass education here, but I'll leave that with the reader)

The view down from Tremough House   

The views above are from the top and bottom of campus, and include Tremough House, one of the remaining original buildings here. I could imagine this being the equivalent to the Ha-Ha with the ex-local authority housing in the distance seperated by the hill and the tributaries to the Penryn river. I wonder if back when the estate mayhave been used for farming activity that this is where the pigs were taken to water.

The Ha-Ha was devised by landscape gardeners to seperate the garden from the livestock and borrow landscape and Sheilla asked whether Institutions replicate this by spending vast amounts of money on keeping a well tended, expansive visage of openness, but not understanding or promoting open educational practice. 

Guerilla Gardening

Guerilla garening takes a distinctly different approach, going against the grain and often against authority and out in the open. The recent Incredible Edible movement (of which there is also one in Penryn) is an example of this happening in our UK towns and cities.

Falmouth and Exeter students taking part in the Green Living Project took over this bit of unused space on campus to develop vegetable plots and outdoor community initiatives like a digital detox, ditching the smartphone for the spade and in very open educational practice, learning from each other about sustainable living practices.

The Walled Garden

Up until today I'd only considered the negative connotations of the walled garden in terms of software development, where the service provider has ultimate control over the application/content in contrast to allowing open access. So it was refreshing to here Sheila's take on the walled garden being an essential space within the University, in which people can feel safe in experimenting with Open Educational Practices.

Here's the entrance and the view inside the walled garden at Tremough. Guarded by rhodedendrons and revealing a mature apple orchard once you enter, it's often visited by students and staff who want need a peaceful space for reflection away from the busier main campus buildings and thinking about it now, this is precisely the type of atmosphere that we need to cultivate in order to foster open educational practices. Thanks to Sheila for the engaging talk and these metaphors that will no doubt help me explain and promote open practice amongst colleagues in future.