poetry and prose about place

Posts Tagged ‘natural history

Useful Knowledge

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I have continued to read the Annual Report of the Schools of New Brunswick 1888 (Fredericton, 1889) by the Chief Superintendent of Education, to discover more about New Brunswick’s one room schools.


Since I am a botanist, interested in natural history, I wondered what students in 1888 were taught about the natural world. Below, I have listed the subjects included in ‘Useful Knowledge’ in Standards I through VI (Grades One though Six). The theme of temperance, moderation in alcohol consumption, was central to ‘Useful Knowledge’ in Grade Four and beyond. I also like the animals listed in Standard IV – Animal Life !


Standard I (Grade 1)

Minerals.—Distinguishing and naming coal, slate, clay, iron, lead, etc.
Plant Life.—Distinguishing and naming common garden vegetables, flowers,
field crops, trees in the neighbourhood.
Animal Life.—Distinguishing and naming principal parts of the human
body by means of pictures ; to point to and name principal parts of familiar

Standard II  (Grade 2)

Minerals—Pointing out objects in school room made in part or in whole of
iron or any mineral. Names of implements made of iron, steel, &c. Cooking
utensils of iron, tin.
Plant Life.—Distinguishing parts of plants—stems, leaves, roots.
Animal Life. —Distinguishing and naming the chief sub-divisions of the prin
cipal parts of the human body and lessons on such parts as skin, nails—use and
care of. Familiar animals—their food, habits, uses.

Standard III (Grade 3)

Minerals (Oral).—Lessons on minerals or stones in the district—names and
how distinguished from each other.
Plant Life (Oral).— Agricultural products of the district. Trees, shrubs,
herbs—different ways of distinguishing one from another, &c, by form, colour,
and size of trunk, branches, leaves, bark.
Animal Life (Oral).—Ear and Eye—use and care of. By means of pictures, to distinguish and name such animals as are treated of in the Reader, and give their
prominent structural characteristics. Domestic and wild animals of the district.
Oral lessons on all Useful Knowledge Lessons in Reader before the pupil is
required to memorize the answers to the questions.

Standard IV (Grade 4)

Minerals (Oral).— Principal Minerals of the Province, localities and uses.
Oral lessons on Metals (similar to those in Useful Knowledge lessons in
Plant Life (Oral).— Names of the principal forest trees of the Province—
their uses. Agricultural productions of the Province.
Animal Life (Oral).— Organs of Respiration —-Effects of alcoholic stimulants thereon. Domestic and wild animals of the Province. General structure of such animals as are treated of in Reader. Oral lessons on Useful Knowledge lessons in Reader before the pupil is required to memorize the answers to the questions.

Standard V (Grade 5)

Minerals.—General qualities and uses of the more useful metals and minerals
of the Province (Oral).
Plant Life. —General characteristics of the useful and hurtful plants of the Prov
ince (Oral).
Animal Life.—Organs of digestion and circulation. Effects of alcoholic stimu
lants thereon. Adaptation of structure to habit of such animals : the cow, the
squirrel, the camel, the lion, the elephant and the whale (Oral).

Standard VI (Grade 6)

The Mineral Kingdom.—Lessons to be illustrated by specimens, (Text-book,
Part I, Baileys Natural History).
Physical effect of alcoholic stimulants upon the human system. Lessons
to be illustrated by experiments where practicable. Text-book, Palmer’s Tem
perance Teachings of Science, Chaps. I-IV inclusive.
Physics, (Oral).—Hotze’s First Lessons in Physics for Teacher’s use only.
Lessons 1-13 inclusive.


Long after my own days in elementary school are past, I am still learning about the ‘Adaptation of Structure to Habit’ of such animals as the squirrel:



Adaptation of structure to habit of such animals : the cow, the
squirrel, the camel, the lion, the elephant and the whale. Part One: The Squirrel, perfectly adapted to stealing seed from birdfeeders.



Copyright 2016 Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

April 22, 2016 at 3:28 pm

grant from artsnb

with 12 comments

I am so pleased to announce – I have recieved a grant in the field of literary arts (B Category) from artsnb – the New Brunswick Arts Board. The Board has supported my work before, for my poetry manuscripts about ‘growing and gathering local foods’ and ‘harvesting colour’.


This new project will be to write a manuscript of poems about plants and animals growing in, around and under covered bridges. ‘In the shelter of the covered bridge’ will  explore the natural history of these covered bridges, looking at how covered bridges modify the landscape and create a special environment for plants and animals. Because of my interest in human history, I’ll include poetry about the people who make use of the spaces of the covered bridge.



woodpecker holes in an end of the Mill Settlement Covered Bridge – all sorts of possibilities for poetry


Since experience is so important to the writing of poetry, one part of my project will be to continue my travels to the covered bridges in the province, especially the 31 covered bridges in the St. John River watershed. Every visit will suggest new subject matter for me to explore with words.


Of all the elements of this project, I think I will most enjoy the chance to show how important these bridges are to our natural and cultural history in New Brunswick.


Copyright 2015 Jane Tims


Written by jane tims

July 20, 2015 at 7:35 am

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