Framing Nature Study for the Cities

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:
Framing Nature Study for the Cities

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Nature study in New York City was not accomplished in a single, tidy step, nor was it exclusively involved with natural objects. Nature study became one of several programs intended to ameliorate the difficulties facing the pupils, their families, and their teachers in the public schools at the turn of the century. Nature study came with standardized instruction for teachers, but left considerable room for them to be creative in content and to link it to other subjects. It might go in and out of favor with administrators, but teachers who found the curriculum effective with their pupils could mobilize public support when a threat appeared. Cities across the country worked to find the “one best system” of education in standardized programs intended to produce moral citizens able to work in their communities. Nature study could be quickly implemented, often in very distinctive ways, as urban school systems underwent rapid changes brought about by consolidation and centralization, the reduction in size of once-powerful and autocratic school boards, and city-wide elections that allowed business leaders and others to choose experts as superintendents of schools. This opened the way for innovative curricula as well, as teachers, administrators, and reformers learned from each other and from an array of publications.

Keywords: nature study; urban city; education programs; schools; New York city

Chapter.  6913 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Education

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