The central aim of nature study leaders as they sought to introduce their curriculum to elementary and grammar school pupils was to acquaint children with nature firsthand, equipping each individual to be a keen observer and to appreciate the complexity and significance of the natural environment. Nature study's initial sponsors included men and women with scientific training, several of whom also had school-teaching experience. Although nature study could be controversial and more demanding to teach than some other subjects, evidence demonstrates that it enjoyed widespread and sustained support from administrators, teachers, and communities where it was implemented. Moreover, it was intimately related to the social outlook and political activism that undergird a broad interest in the natural environment and generated conservationist and preservationist activities in the early decades of the twentieth century. Nature study was an innovation that initially appealed to educators and a wider public who defended the place of science in the curriculum because of a conviction that no one should “separate science from culture or culture from science.”
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