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Nan in Mass--could you explain...

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...what you meant in a post below re "natural history":


"We laid the foundation in middle school, then gave them two years of natural history in which to learn science skills and learn to *be* a scientist."


I know that before scientists were *called* scientists, they were know as natural historians, but I'm not quite sure how that translates into a course of study as distinct from "science." Despite my own interest in various sciences, actually making science a consistent part of our homeschooling was the bane of my existence for many years. None of my boys likes the "hands on" approach, but they also disliked doing textbook study. Now I'm down to my last son, gr 8, and rather dreading the high school years again re science due to his own lack if interest. Any thoughts?

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Natural history is the study of nature. It has elements that are often studied in bio, chem, physics, astronomy, geology, geography, history, anthorpology, sociology, ... It is an easy science to pursue as an amateur. Professionals are hired by Audubon and other places like that. I don't think it is something that I would pick if my children didn't enjoy the hands-on part of science. Its main advantage, from my point of view, was the ease with which the hands-on, being a scientist part could be done in our back yard and our community, and the number of things that are still left to be discovered. I wanted my children to be able to *be* scientists before they had to tackle the nitty gritty of a higher level science class (a necessary evil for developing the rather massive basic knowledge base necessary even to be an informed citizen). I was afraid that if they did regular textbook science first, they wouldn't be motivated to learn science properly and only learn it in for-this-test way. Besides, an important part of being a member of our family is being able to tell poison ivy from sasparilla, knowing which berries are edible, having some idea of which clouds lead to which weather, knowing where the frost line is, knowing what each animal does to survive the winter, knowing the life cycle of the mosquito and the fish, knowing how a bird flies, knowing what fishers or dragonflies eat, knowing how things depend on each other, and all the rest of the endless amount of local knowledge that makes living in New England easier and more interesting. The skills involved - using nature guides, using binoculars, drawing, being observant, etc., are ones that my family consider a necessary part of being adult, and the underlying concepts (all materials are recycled, the concept of an interdependent ecosystem, etc.) frame a way of looking at the world that my family considers fundamental. That was all a complicated way of saying that for my particular family, natural history is fundamental, more important than math, and worth devoting some high school time to, despite the if-y-ness of having to record it on one's high school transcript for college admissions people to judge. (It looks like biology-lite lol.)


Have you looked at the posts from people who have studied science through a history lens? If science isn't something your children like or are interested in, natural history might not be what you want. It covers a LOT of basic science, both content and skills, but it doesn't do it in the most effiecient manner. A textbook would be a more efficient way of checking off that box on the requirements list. If, on the other hand, you are trying to find a way to make science more pertinent (sp?) to your children's lives, more applied, you want a focus on what scientists do rather than on studying classroom science, you don't mind putting in the extra time, and you aren't worried about having a non-standard looking transcript, natural history might be a good option.



Edited by Nan in Mass
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