Reframing and Extending Nature Study

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:
Reframing and Extending Nature Study

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Contemporary and historical accounts of nature study's demise have underestimated the staying power of the programs introduced under its auspices, despite the painful decline of the organizational framework put in place by Maurice Bigelow and the sometimes derogatory descriptions of nature study education by those advocating change. The transition from nature study to elementary science demonstrates that reform in education came gradually, however, and that older elements were not fully expunged. The nature study curriculum persisted at sites where enthusiastic teachers and administrators continuously updated and redesigned course outlines in response to local interests and statewide mandates. Nature study, with its close observation of the natural world, hands-on learning, themes of civic and moral uplift, and appreciation for the processes of living things in their environment, seemed highly appropriate as comprehensive schools encouraged extracurricular activities and progressive leaders sought to make middle-class activities available to even the poorest children.

Keywords: nature study; curriculum; education; elementary science; reforming

Chapter.  9538 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Education

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