Nature Study

And he wandered away and away,
With Nature, the dear old nurse,

Who sang to him night and day
the rhymes of the universe.

And whenever the way seemed long,
Or his heart began to fail,

She would sing a more wonderful song,
Or told a more marvelous tale.

- Henry Longfellow

Nature-study is, despite all discussions and perversions, a study of nature; it consists of simple, truthful observations that may, like beads on a string, finally be threaded upon the understanding and thus held together as a logical and harmonious whole.  Therefore, the object of the nature-study teacher should be to cultivate in the children powers of accurate observation and to build up within them understanding.

Nature-study cultivates the child's imagination, since there are so many wonderful and true stories that he may read with his own eyes, which affect his imagination as much as does fairy lore; at the same time nature-study cultivates in him a perception and a regard for what is true, and the power to express it. All things seem possible in nature; yet this seeming is always guarded by the eager quest of what is true. Perhaps half the falsehood in the world is due to lack of power to detect the truth and to express it. Nature-study aids both in discernment and in expression of things as they are.

Nature-study is not elementary science as so taught, because its point of attack is not the same. In elementary science the work begins with the simplest animals and plants and progresses logically through the highest forms. In nature-study the work begins with any plant or creature which chances to interest the pupil. It is for the comprehension of the individual life of the bird, insect, or plant that is nearest at hand.

It should always be borne in mind that mere curiosity is always impertinent, and that it is never more so than when exercised in the realm of nature. A genuine interest should be the basis of the study of the lives of plants and lower animal. Curiosity may elicit facts, but only real interest may mold these facts into wisdom.

Nature-study is perfectly good science within its limits, but it is not meant to be more profound or comprehensive than the capabilities of the child's mind. It does not start out with the classification given in books, but in the end it builds up in the child's mind a classification which is based on fundamental knowledge; it is a classification like that evolved by the first naturalists, because it is built on careful personal observation of both form and life.

Nature-study cultivates in the child a love of the beautiful; it brings to him early a perception of color, form, and music. But, more than all, nature-study gives the child a sense of companionship with life out-of-doors and an abiding love of nature.

Quoted From:
Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Comstock

No comments:

Post a Comment