Nature Study, Advice from Comstock

Previously Ms Comstock explained what the study of nature might be expected to do for the child. Now she explains the benefits to the teacher (or parent):

WHAT NATURE-STUDY SHOULD DO FOR THE TEACHER

During many years, I have been watching teachers in our public schools in their conscientious and ceaseless work; and so far as I can foretell, the fate that awaits them finally is either nerve exhaustion or nerve atrophy. The teacher must become either a neurasthenic or a ” clam.” ( i.e. neurotic and heading for a nervous break-down or apathetic)

I have had conversations with hundreds of teachers in the public schools of New York State concerning the introduction of nature-study into the curriculum, and most of them declared, ” Oh, we have not time for it. Every moment is full now! ”

(doesn’t that sound familiar? If I had a dollar for every mom who I hear saying she can’t add nature study because she’s stretched to the breaking point, well, we might still be self supporting missionaries, but our self support would bring us up to considerably more comforts!)

Their nerves were at such a tension that with one more thing to do they must fall apart. The question in my own mind during these conversations was always, how long can she stand it! I asked some of them, ” Did you ever try a vigorous walk in the open air in the open country every Saturday or every Sunday of your teaching year? ” ” Oh no! ” they exclaimed in despair of making me understand. ” On Sunday we must go to church or see our
friends and on Saturday we… *(have to catch up with all the undone tasks from the previous week).

What are you catching up with?
Consider, points out Ms Comstock, that you may be behind on grading papers and household tasks and so on, but you are also behind on some other things you haven’t considered- rest, refreshment, rejuvenation, the things that give you more energy and motivation to bring you through the other cares:

Yes, catch up with more cares, more worries, more fatigue, but not with more growth, more strength, more vigor, and more courage for work. In my belief, there are two and only two occupations for Saturday afternoon or forenoon for a teacher.
One is to be out-of-doors and the other is to lie in. bed, and the first is best.
Out in this, God’s beautiful world, there is everything waiting to heal lacerated nerves, to strengthen tired muscles, to please and content the soul that is torn to shreds with duty and care. To the teacher who turns to nature’s healing, nature-study in the schoolroom is not a trouble; it is a sweet, fresh breath of air blown across the heat of radiators and the noi-
some odor of overcrowded small humans. She who opens her eyes and her heart
nature-ward even once a week finds nature-study in the schoolroom a delight and an abiding joy. What does such a one find in her schoolroom instead of the terrors of discipline, the eternal watching and eternal nagging to keep the pupils quiet and at work? She finds, first of all, companionship with her children; and second, she finds that without planning or going
on a far voyage, she has found health and strength.

No time for nature study? By not doing nature study, you may be losing at more time in terms of the renewed eagerness, fresh minds, health, and cooperative spirits that come from time outside observing nature.

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One Comment

  1. Lindsey in AL
    Posted February 16, 2017 at 7:00 am | Permalink

    Thanks for this! We’re currently in the middle of a kind of yucky warm winter and I need to be grateful for the chance to be outdoors with my kids instead of complaining inside that it’s too warm for a wood fire but too cold to turn off the electric heat. And my nerves definitely need the tonic that only a day outside can be. God bless you!

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