Value of 'naming'

Jerry Bricker lcjbrick at ANTELOPE.WCC.EDU
Fri Jul 12 19:16:54 CDT 1996

On Fri, 12 Jul 1996, Richard Jensen wrote:

> Do you mean colloquial or scientific names?  There is real value in both
> (this is my opinion), but I'm not sure that memorizing the scientific
> names is critical for that level.  The key would be to get thto
 em to learn
> colloquial names and to be aware that (1) there are standardized
> scientific names associated with colloquial names and (2) not all
> organisms (in fact, most do not) have colloquial names, so for many
> "kinds", the scientific name is the only name available.  In fact, it may
> be best to focus on generic names (generic in both senses -
> scientifically and colloquially).  It depends on what your objectives as
> a teacher are!

I have always been impressed with the ornithologist's approach to naming
birds.  Realizing that the lay public finds latin to be a bit of a scary
subject, they have assigned a standardized common name to each bird.
Once, when teaching a horticultural science lab I noticed that students
got a glazed look in their eyes when the latin name for a plant was
given.  I got in the habit of translating the name into english when
asked "what is the real name."  Of course, arguments like "that is its
real name" had no effect on those individuals that had never heard of the
Botanical Code.  I got pretty good at the game.  If I didn't know the
correct english translation I made up some gobbly gook.  Everyone was
happy.  Funny how we think we now something about a creature when we can
give it a NAME (wow).

In any case, I started thinking that botanists might be well served by
the ornitholigist's lead.  As there are several hundred thousand more
plant species than bird species, I would begin with a list of cultivated
plants and work from there.

I admit it may be a pipedream.  This might be a solution to any teacher's
dilema, though.  Teach the standardized common name and go from there.
Students would be better served learning concepts related to ecology,
behavior, reproduction, etc. that effect the bird, plant, fungus, animal
than what its silly scientific name is.

Jerry Bricker

More information about the Taxacom mailing list