Educating with Nature's Own Book

Sally Gregory Kohlstedt

in Teaching Children Science

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2010 | ISBN: 9780226449906
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226449920 | DOI:
Educating with Nature's Own Book

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Historians have focused more on schools and exceptional educators in urban areas than on the one- and two-room district schools prevalent until well into the twentieth century. Despite Abbott's warning and certainly reflecting a widespread interest in natural sciences, popular children's books and magazine articles on scientific subjects proliferated, many of them intent on demonstrating simple techniques for identifying and classifying objects. This juvenile scientific literature adapted language and complex ideas from science and advocated industry, self-reliance, and hard work as a requirement for successful scientific study. Nature study repeated and extended elements of these efforts to interest children in the natural sciences. Historians of American education have traced some ways in which European educational ideas and practices were implemented. Multiple and intersecting theories of education were part of the curriculum in many normal schools and in new graduate programs in education in universities. Emphasizing theory and philosophy in the curriculum allowed normal school faculty to validate the intellectual significance of their work. It was an exciting and challenging period for educators who took their inspiration not only from Europe but also from the widely evident enthusiasm for the natural sciences in the United States.

Keywords: nature study; education; graduate programs; natural sciences; intersecting theories

Chapter.  9355 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Education

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