Names or no?

Thomas G. Lammers lammers at TFM.FMNH.ORG
Fri Jul 19 15:31:00 CDT 1996

OK, so the question is, should environmental ed/outdoor ed teachers teach
names of organisms, or should they refuse to clutter up little seventh-
graders minds with such things and instead let them appreciate the wondrous
intricacies of the natural world.

Rather reminds me of the 'sixties educational fad of not wanting to
stifle children's creativity with rules of grammer, syntax, punctuation,
and spelling.  In thius way, they would be free to spew forth all sorts
of wonderfully creative prose and poetry, to appreciate the beauty of
language, to become artistes rather than craftsmen.  As a result, we
now have hundreds of thousands of adults who are completely incapable of
constructing a reasonable facsimile of a paragraph, and who, as near as
I can tell, are not one whit more creative than adults who were tutored
by oppressive/repressive authoritarian grammarians.

So my response is a resounding YES.  Children at all ages must be taught
the names of things.  Names that are appropriate to there level of
comprehension, and that, as Donna Ford and others emphasized, will mean
something because of the association of other interesting and useful facts.

Frankly, I am appalled that anyone in education would suggest that you can
learn ANYTHING of value in nature without at least using names like
oak, maple, robin, and bullfrog.  I cannot even imagine how any sort of
discussion about ecological phenomena could be conducted without names.
Like trying to write The Great American Novel without using any proper
nouns: "That one guy, the mean one, he said ..."  "His friend, the whiney
one, replied ..."

Though its beyond the scope of this group, perhaps the REAL issue here is
the preponderance of ridiculous educational fads, fancies, and bandwagons,
and the crippling effect they can have on the education of youth.

Thomas G. Lammers       lammers at
Department of Botany
Field Museum of Natural History
Chicago IL 60605-2496 USA

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