Monday, May 17, 2010

Taxonomy and the Animal Kingdom: Arthropods- Part Four

"Now let us imagine a man appointed to a chair of science in some university, with the task before him of doing further original work with the hymenoptera. Let us suppose that, arrived at his post, he is shown a glass covered case containing a number of beautiful butterflies, mounted by means of pins, their outspread wings motionless. The student will say that this is some child's play, not material for scientific study, that these specimens in the box are more fitly a part of the game which the little boys play, chasing butterflies and catching them in a net. With such material as this the experimental scientist can do nothing.

The situation would be very much the same if we should place a teacher who, according to our conception of the term, is scientifically prepared, in one of the traditional public schools where the children are repressed in the spontaneous expression of their personality until they are almost like dead beings. In such a school the children, like butterflies mounted on pins, are fastened each to his place, the desk, spreading the useless wings of barren and meaningless knowledge which they have acquired."

-Maria Montessori, The Montessori Method

Over the weekend, the first of the Painted Lady Butterflies that the class raised from butterfly eggs emerged from its chrysalis. The children stood spellbound over the course of the day as the remaining five climbed out of their papery cases, their wrinkled wings still damp with meconium, unfurled their proboscis, and sat silently in the sunlight.

After the butterflies had a rest, the children sat quietly and peacefully (so as not to frighten them) and allowed the delicate insects to crawl across the palms of their hands.

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