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Wisconsin State Horticultural Society / The Wisconsin horticulturist
Vol. III, No. 9 (November 1898)

The power to observe essential to a farm education,   pp. 15-17 PDF (746.7 KB)

Page 17

"How shall we proceed with our children to secure the
end specified? It is a very simple matter if set about per-
sistently. I take mya little ones by the hand as soon as they
can walk and make it my business to answer questions, and
to ask them. "What tree is this, Phil?" "It is e'm,"
or "it
is ash," or "it is cracker-nut," as the case may be. Let
him have his own names, which will always be descriptive.
Cracker-nut stands for butter-nut, which is our way of de-
scribing the same tree. "Butwhyisite'm"(elm)? "Don't
you see, Papa? See, the leaf is rough and the bark is too."
But the pear has a shiny leaf, and the bark of the linden is
easily distinguished. He will pick out the specific pecul-
iarities. You are teaching him the important habit not
only of seeing but of telling, and of afterward being able to
recall and define. This plan must be pursued for years,
from two or three up to seven years of age. By that time
the child has learned to explore, to discover, and very likely
to invent. You will be astounded to find how much he sees
before you do. He begins to be your teacher.
Remember this, that you can never have a wisely edu-
cated child by any possible system of proxy. You cannot
turn over all responsibility in the case to other parties.
Home education must cover a good share of the best culture
of the earliest years.
"But after our own persistent and patient work comes
the public school. There we must insist on the same gen-
eral principle as we have previously applied ourselves.
This will not be difficult when the farmers are well waked
up to what they need. I venture to believe that it will not
take ten years to introduce the study of vegetable and ani-
mal life into our common schools for boys and girls of eight
to eighteen. These studies are no more difficult than geog-
raphy and grammar and arithmetic. The same grade of
teachers can quite as easily master botany and entomology.
But our reliance must be placed on a broadened normal
school system. We must refuse with persistence to accept
any teachers with picked up educations.  An untrained
teacher cannot wisely train pupils."

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