Liberty Hyde Bailey

Liberty Hyde Bailey

Liberty Hyde Bailey

Quotations from The Nature-Study Idea: An Interpretation Of The New School-Movement To Put The Young Into Relation And Sympathy With Nature (first published in 1903 by Doubleday, Page, & Co).

Without doubt the most powerful voice of the wonderful Nature Study Movement of the early 1900s, Dr. Bailey, both a scientist and philosopher, emphasized that nature study is primarily rooted in the spirit, in coming into “sympathy” with nature near at hand:

“Nature study is not a science. It is not knowledge. It is not facts. It is spirit. It is concerned with the child’s outlook on the world.”

“The happiest life has the greatest number of points of contact with the world, and it has the deepest sympathy and feeling for everything that is.”

“We must define nature-study in terms of its purpose, not in terms of its methods. It is not doing this or that. It is putting the child into intimate and sympathetic contact with the things of the external world. Whatever the method, the final result of nature-study is the development of a keen personal interest in every natural object and phenomenon.”

“The child should first see the thing. It should then reason about the thing. Having a concrete impression, it may then go to the book to widen its knowledge and sympathies.”

“If one is to be happy, he must be in sympathy with common things. He must live in harmony with his environment. One cannot be happy yonder nor to-morrow: he is happy here and now, or never. Our stock of knowledge of common things should be great. Few of us can travel. We must know the things at home.”

“The youth by nature is a generalist. He should not be forced to be a specialist . . . An interest in one simple, living problem that is near the child’s life is worth a whole book of facts without nature.”

“One’s happiness depends less on what he knows than on what he feels.”

“What we teach as science drives many a person from nature.”

“In the early years we are not to teach nature a science, we are not to teach it primarily for method or for drill: we are to teach it for living and for loving—and this is nature-study. On these points I make no compromise.”

“The child should see the object itself before he sees its parts. Teach first the whole bug, the whole bird, the whole plant. The botanist may well devote his life to a single cell, but the layman wants to know the trees and the woods.”

“The child should be set at those things that are within its own sphere and within the range of its powers. Much so-called nature-study teaching is merely telling the child what some man has found out. Bacteria, sheep’s brains, life histories of difficult insects, chemical changes in germination, pollination, yeast, fermentation—these and a hundred others are beyond the child’s realm.”

“Nature-study is for everyone, and therefore is fundamental; scientific investigation is for the few, and therefore is special. If nature-study opens the sympathies nature-ward, it will also increase the appreciation of science.”

“The child should first come into contact with things rather than ideas about things. This is the natural order. Animals come before zoology, plants before botany, fields and rocks before geology.”

“So long as the sun shines and the fields are green we shall need to go to nature for our inspiration and our respite; and our need is the greater with every increasing complexity of our lives.”
 

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