Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Everything Connected

I was tempted to call this one "What's in a name?" Quite a lot, actually. Both scientific and common names of plants and animals are windows to history, math, art, everything really. Later today, I'll launch from these five photos a rough draft of an essay I'm preparing called "Everything Connected." It'll be about an approach to learning that I advocate but which really goes against the tradition of compartmentalizing knowledge and thereby removing quite a bit of the excitement. Stay tuned.
6:00 a.m., Thursday: Got busy last night, and this will be a busy day, but here's a first installment.
Using the scientific names of these plants as a jumping off point, from the top we have Lewisia rediviva, named for Meriwether Lewis of the Lewis and Clark expedition. Next two photos are of the genus Clarkia, you guessed it - William Clark. The green foliage is a California Black Oak, namesake of this blog. Quercus kelloggii. The generic name was an early name for oak; the specific name is for Albert Kellogg, a California physician and botanist. A man ahead of his time, he was one of the founders of the California Academy of Science and was the first to nominate women for membership in the all-male science club. Last is the showy milkweed, Asclepias speciosa. The genus is named after the Greek God of medicine and the species name means showy. For each of these plants, both the scientific and common names serve as entry points for lessons in history, science, art, everything really. All that is needed is tenacious curiosity and a willingness to cross over "subject" boundaries. More detail to come later.

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