The Handbook of Nature Study – by Anna Botsford Comstock, Late professor of Nature Study in Cornell University – Copyright in 1911arrived in the mail last week – to my shrilling sweet joy! The boys thought I got money or chocolate in the mail. No. My Book. My long awaited book. Now I wonder why it took so long to spend less than $20.00 on an item that will sit between the Bible and my Sibley Guide to Birds on the shelf?
I’d like to share my Ah-ha moments from Part I of the book – I put this post, and the others on this book in my ponderings – as it has to do with sharing my thought process out loud – and not necessarily what the boys are actually learning or seeing. My ideas of how this learning fits together is gaining shape and form – which is something I have prayed for as the boys get older and more information than just the “look – pretty – stand by it so I can take a picture”.
I’ll just share some of my favorite quotes so far -
“ . . .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.”
“ . . gives the child a sense of companionship with life out of doors and an abiding love of nature. Let this latter be the teacher’s criterion for judging his or her work. If nature study as taught does not make the child love nature and the out-of-doors, then it should cease”
She goes on to speak of being better not to give this time to children who really do not want to seek truth, or detail or spend time observing. I can’t write enough of how I feel that is true. Our way of life works for us. My passion is in discovery of truth – be it in the word or in nature or in people. However, I can not pull an unwilling child along that does not have the spark to share this passion. I do not wish to start a Nature Study School for the sorrow that comes to me when teaching kids who have not a care for what we are observing. Sorry – side note, but she did speak of it in her introduction . . .
I love her section on Nature-Study as a Help to the Health – when sharing talks with other teachers and their reasons for not incorporating this into studies – excuses of time and tiredness. My favorite line to the “We need Saturday to catch up”
“Yes, catch up with more cares, more worries, more fatigue, but not with more growth, more strength, more vigor and more courage for work – In my belief, there are two and only two occupations for Saturday afternnon or forenoon for a teacher. One is to be out-of-doors and the other is to lie in bed, and the first is best.”
Did I mention I love this gal? She goes on to say how the healing of “God’s beautiful world” can strengthen, and please and provide contentment. Love it.
My favorite quote from a mentor is actually in her wording in the chapter on When and Why the Teacher Should Say I Do Not Know. Early on, a mentor friend told me to not say “I don’t know” dismissively, with an excuse of it being in our studies later, or indifference to their question – but to follow it with – “Lets write it down, Lets look it up”. Since that time, finding the things, as a family, that we do not know has been a thrill ride for sure. Now- we find we know less than when we started as the world seems to gain detail to our observations. We smile when we entertain visitors who want to assure us they are “experts” in the item that they saw 15 years ago in a field. Even in our exchanges with the staff of the various Oregon State Extension offices, their greatest smiles come from what we ask that they as well do not know. The thought that we are incapable of teaching our children because we have forgotten most of public or private school is sad. The thought that we can not lead them in Bible or Nature because we ourselves do not know is limiting our journeys. Led the knowledge of the unknown create passion for the discovery!!!
“I do not know; let us see if we cannot together find out this mysterious thing. Maybe no one knows it as yet, and I wonder if you will discover it before I do.”
Let us not allow our interests to become limited to only the things we think we know.