Saturday, 2 August 2014

Method in Nature Study: Observation & Reflection

Charlotte Mason in School Education (pg. 121) said:

In reflecting we ruminate on what we have received.

Reflection or 'ruminating power' allows us to retain and assimilate intellectual impressions. Without reflection these impressions will be allowed to just pass over the surface of our minds and be lost.

We've been using Nature Studies in Australia by Gillies & Hall, 1903, as well as The Handbook of Nature Study as our regular resources for Nature Study and it has been interesting to find that the ideas presented by our Aussie authors tie in so well with Charlotte Mason's thoughts on this subject:

The wise man is he who has observed much and reflected much. Experience is not enough - there must  be added reflection. The ideal Nature student is he who, after a day's  holiday in the fields, reflects upon the meaning of what he has seen, and who seeks then to enrich his own thought by adding that of the best authorities on the subject. Should he add an hour's reading in White of Selbourne, or Isaac Walton, or John Burroughs, and finish the day with a poem of Wordsworth, or of some other of the poets of outdoor life, he will have brought his day's study of Nature to its true flower. The fact, the meaning of the fact, and the wonder and beauty of the fact - these are the three elements in every full observation of Nature.

 Acacia longifolia, Sydney Golden Wattle

Gillies & Hall mention some Nature writers whose works are scheduled in the Ambleside Online curriculum:

Some book or books on Nature should be read in which literary charm is added to accurate observation. The books of Gilbert White, Richard Jeffries, H.D. Thoreau, John Burroughs, Grant Allen and Seton Thompson have enabled many to feel for the first time the beauty and wonder of nature. For the student also who is in danger of being immersed in analysis and detail, forgetting the wonder or beauty of the animal as it lives, these books, or books like them, will be useful.

 The fact, 
the meaning of the fact, 
and the wonder and beauty of the fact -
 these are the three elements in every full observation of Nature.

Nature Studies in Australia is available free online.

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