Why are botany labs organized the way they are?
When was the first botany class taught?
Is “plant blindness” a recent infliction or is there evidence of it happening long before our time?
When was field work incorporated into botany instruction? You mean field work had to be deliberately integrated into botany class and wasn’t always a logical, natural extension of the learning process?
The answers to these questions can be found in Botanical Education in the United States: Part 1, The Impact of Linneaus and the Foundations of Modern Pedagogy, the first installment of a series of articles about the history of botany education in the United States. This history lesson taught by Marshall D. Sundberg, Botany Professor at Emporia State University, is one you won’t want to miss.
Sundberg (2011) is a great storyteller and presents hundreds of years worth of information in a way that will keep you reading to find out what comes next. In his article, Sundberg (2011) introduces readers to key figures in US botanical history and sets up a timeline that is easy to follow. Here is a quick look at the fascinating people you get to learn about while reading Sundberg’s article:
- Carl Linnaeus: Linnaeus and his Philosophia Botanica influenced botany instruction in the US.
- Cadwallader Colden: Colden was an Irish immigrant who collected the plants of New York and corresponded with Linnaeus.
- Jane Colden: Jane was Cadwallader’s daughter. She was well-versed in Linnaeus’ classification system (thanks to her dad). The first woman botanist in the United States, Jane’s detailed plant descriptions and botanical illustrations were highly regarded by her male peers.
- Adam Kuhn: A student of Linnaeus, Kuhn became the first botany professor in the US.
- Benjamin Waterhouse: The “first endowed professor of botany and entomology” (Sundberg, 2011), Waterhouse taught the first regularly-offered botany course in the US. In the natural history course he taught at Harvard, he stressed the importance of drawing in education.
- Benjamin Smith Barton: Self-published the first botany textbook.
- David Hosack: Hosack studied with William Curtis, brought duplicate specimens from Linnaeus’ herbarium back to the US, and built a botanical garden in New York to emphasize the value of gardens as teaching tools.
- Amos Eaton: A New York lawyer interested in natural history and making botany practical for young students, Eaton demonstrated the positive impact laboratory work and field work has on student learning.
The impressive contributions these individuals made to botany education in the US, and how their lives intersected, are explained in Sundberg (2011). In his carefully researched article, Sundberg (2011) provides insight into the history of US botany, insight into the history of teaching and learning, and insight into the history of botanical illustration in the US. The series Marshall Sunderg has launched is difficult to summarize because of its breadth. It is so interesting, I don’t know how to describe it.
So allow me to say simply this…
Sundberg, Marshall D. 2011. Botanical education in the United States: Part 1, The impact of Linnaeus and the foundations of modern pedagogy. Plant Science Bulletin. 57(4): 134-158. Winter 2011. Web.
<http://www.botany.org/plantsciencebulletin>. [accessed February 21, 2012]