« AnteriorContinuar »
We shall then see how every plant is adapted to its position in life, and how it has acquired the peculiarities which characterize each kind respectively.
(2) The Student who may be somewhat more advanced, and may be working by himself, should carefully dissect every flower he meets with. Then let him write down the particulars of structure, as well as make sketches of the different parts in his note-book. This procedure impresses the details strongly on the mind, which is apt to forget minute points of structure after examining many flowers.
When he discovers that there are often an immense number of “species, such as the different kinds of Heath—of which botanists reckon the amount to be some five hundred-he may wonder how Nature has made so many, as well as how the various shapes or forms of flowers have arisen. So I have added sections dealing with these matters.
It is most important to understand cle: rly the structure of flowers, because the classification of plants is almost entirely based upon it; and although they look so different, flowers can be easily grouped upon a few very simple “elements of variation,” as one might call them.
(3) I have entitled this book as also intended for Teachers as well as Beginners and Students, because it is most important that they should encourage their pupils to look at plants and their flowers themselves, and understand their relations to the surroundings; and not merely regard the practical school lesson in Botany as only concerned with structure. This latter is usually done by means of the Floral Schedule an invention of the late Rev. J. S. Henslow, formerly Professor of Botany in the University of Cambridge, England. It is an admirable means for securing accuracy both in observation and recording.
But I should like the teacher to do much more, and show the pupils (who, if young, should be entirely taught practically without any book) why one plant is hairy or woolly; why another is quite smooth ; why some flowers are "regular,” others “irregular;” how it comes about that some plants are spiny, others not at all, etc.
Then such matters as insectivorous habits and climbing powers, parasitism, epiphytal modes of lifenot to add the various adaptations in flowers for wind-, insect-, and self-pollination—should each and all in turn be discussed in the lesson as occasion arises.
All these and other additional matters to the "lesson proper” will excite the interest and enthusiasm of the pupils.
Another thing which the teacher should do is to encourage the pupils to bring to school all the examples they can find of the various parts of the plants treated of in any particular lesson—such as adaptations of flowers for pollination, of fruits and seeds showing special contrivances for dispersal. Thus they would be accumulating materials for the School Museum.
Of course, all success depends upon the teachers, who must teach con amore, advise, encourage, and reward the children's efforts by any means they may think best.
If they do this, they will find the subject not only interesting to themselves, but fascinating to their
The school should have a small Museum of Fruits and Seeds, and a Herbarium of dried plants of the neighbourhood, containing selected types of the different genera, when such have many species. The pupils should be encouraged to collect the specimens, which should be properly dried and mounted under the superintendence of the teacher.
The teacher, or elder pupils, should make enlarged drawings of everything of importance in the structure of flowers. These should be inserted with and by the side of the dried specimens. Wall-drawings and the blackboard should be freely employed.
It is impossible to make Botany so simple that a child will be able to follow the details without assistance. It is, indeed, quite a mistake to suppose that it can be written like a Story-book, or even like History. Botany requires a considerable effort, as much as any other subject—say, Grammar-taught at school. In fact, the teacher should in all cases
provide the pupils with the flowers described whenever they can do so, in order that they may see for themselves the details in each case.
The pupils should be taught how to make “ Floral Diagrams," of which there are several examples in this book. The best way is to procure a flower only half-opened, so that it can be seen how the sepals or petals overlap one another; then the exact positions of the stamens and honey-glands, with the relative positions of the cells of the ovary, must be carefully added.
One other item should be carefully observed, and that is, the insistence upon the correct spelling of every botanical term, especially when it is used for the first time. It should be written large upon the blackboard, and copied some half-dozen times by the pupils.
The reader will find many statements repeated in this book. Experience has taught me the advisability of the use of repetition.
In order to start fair with a general knowledge of plant structure, it is necessary to begin upon some common plant, and examine all its parts in order. For this purpose I have selected the common South African Sorrel, Ox'alis cer'nua, and shall devote the first sections to a description of this plant.