Monday, May 3, 2010

Nature Study: What is It?

I recently was able to get Anna Comstock's "Handbook of Nature Study" from our library. I had heard many good things about this book so I decided I had to look into it. After I read the first chapter I knew I had to get my very own copy. I managed to find a great deal off of e-bay, and I'm now waiting for our book to arrive in the mail!

This book is not only an excellent nature-study resource, it also helped me to understand several aspects of nature study that I was formerly misunderstanding, and therefore teaching improperly. Most importantly what nature-study is and why it is so important. According to Anna Comstock:
"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 is not elementary science as so taught... Nature-study is perfectly good science within it's limits, but it is not meant to be more profound or comprehensive than the capabilities of the child's mind."
"In nature-study, the observation of form is for the purpose of better understanding life."
Nature-study is the experience of observing and therefore drawing conclusions about a subject-matter. A student learns from their own observations, experience and interests. Study is done only when the child has learned what they are capable and interested in learning, which if taught properly is far beyond anything that could be taught from a text book or through classroom experience alone.

Nature-study is lead by the child, for the child. As a teacher I may not have all the answers at the moment a question is asked, but I'm not scared to say "I don't know" because I am confident that I can and will find the answer and when I do I am able to not only answer my child but show that we can ALL learn something and that learning is in fact "fun".
The process of nature-study most importantly shows that God's creation is something we will never fully be able to understand, we will never run out of things to discover and learn about, and that our Creator is far beyond our greatest thoughts!
Learning through nature-study is a joint effort of both student and teacher, causing a retention of what is taught that cannot be achieved otherwise. The process alone creates a desire to learn that might not otherwise be present. It is inspirational by nature (pun intended), which attracts the student to want to learn. It's a beautiful thing!!


Unknown said...

I am loving this book also. Just purchased it this past weekend through a used curriculum fair. We haven't done nature study all year and now that it has warmed up we can't get enough of it.

Anonymous said...

I follow your blog for many reasons but one big reason is because you live in Wisconsin and have children the same age as mine. (I live in North Eastern WI) This past weekend I went to a workshop on homeschooling laws in Wis. It was VERY informative. I walked away having a strong understanding of our rights and responsibilities. I just want to pass on this information to you...

Wisconsin Parents Association...good resource! They have a website/book/membership. The March 2010 Newsletter discusses in detail the information on Homeschooling and the New Kindergarten Legislation. Answers a lot of questions and concerns.

I hope this information will be helpful to you...It was very eye opening to me. Take Care...looking forward to seeing your FIAR stuff. :)