A course in elementary high school biology within the students environment
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This thesis is an attempt at the solution of a problem which has grown out of some discouragements and difficulties experienced in connection with three years of teaching biological sciences to first year high school students in the public schools of this state. The problem is the outcome of two convictions. The first of these is that the discouragements and difficulties mentioned were the natural consequences of an attempt to teach, in the most direct way possible, the fundamental facts and principles of the science. The second of these is, that to accomplish the best results in such a course, the fundamental aim should be to teach those things of biology which meet the immediate needs of the students and which, incidentally, will be of most use to them in after life whether school work is to be continued or not. During the years 1913-1914 and 1914-1915, while a student at the University of Missouri, an opportunity was given me to organize a course in elementary biology based upon such principles and to teach the course to a class of twenty five first year high school students at the University High School. At the same time I was permitted to do some nature study teaching in the upper grades of the University Elementary School in order that I might more thoroughly develop the young pupils' point of view. It is the purpose of this thesis to present an outline of the course in elementary biology as organized and, as far as possible, to evaluate the success with which it was taught. Before giving the outline, however, an exposition and criticism will be made of some typical elementary text books of biology that are being used in the high schools of this country. This will be followed by a more thorough statement and discussion of the principles underlying the organization of the course.