Have you ever felt overwhelmed in the face of such a giant book like Handbook of Nature Study or other field guides not knowing where exactly to begin? They have SO much interesting information! How might we go about making them useful tools in education? Well, these books can be very helpful, but not for whom you might at first think. Have you considered that as teachers we may find scheduling readings for ourselves from the Handbook of Nature Study or other field guides extremely helpful? Did you ever think using them with the children could actually be a problem? To a certain degree we must take care not to use these kinds of books heavily with our children except perhaps for identification after a rich time outside of careful observation and the child's completion of an entry in the his/her nature notebook. Here's why:
It is possible to find all the information in books we could ever want on nature study. There are books which contain every observable, and unobservable fact for that matter, the realization of which certainly might rob us and our children of the initial wonder and resulting keen observation of aspects of nature we've never seen before. Identification books ought to be used by the teacher mommy for reference preferably before the nature study/walk and by the student only afterward, according to CM.
" All men are interested in Science - At former meeting of the British Association, the President lamented that the progress of science was greatly hindered by the fact that we no longer have field naturalists - close observers of Nature as she is. A literary journal made a lamentable remark thereupon. It is all written in books, said this journal, so we have no longer any need to go to Nature herself. Now the knowledge of Nature which we get out of books is not real knowledge; **the use of books is, to help the young student to verify facts he has already seen for himself. Let us, before all things, be Nature-lovers; intimate acquaintance with every natural object within his reach is the first, and possibly, the best part of a child's education.** " Vol.2, p62Personally, I aspire to become a nature field guide of sorts for my children, full of information, and yet able to wisely dole out precious gems in a provocative manner, or then refrain from doing so at just the right moment. :) I wish I'd grown up studying nature, or at least in close proximity to someone who had. But I didn't. I get to study now. I get out as often or more than my own children and am every bit as curious as they might be. I can't get enough of the field guides... I've got to have answers! Looking over the field guides helps 'ignorant' me to have some information in store for my wonder-full children when they have need of it. Of course on the same note, most of the time just staying out of their way is paramount!