An Approach to Teaching Children about the Aesthetics of Plants and Gardens

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University of Delaware
The point of this thesis is to draw together some ideas which may serve as guidelines for those who are interested in a program for the education of children in gardens. An education program should not consist only of the courses of plant study and practical gardening, but also the encouragement of sensitivity to beauty, or aesthetics. Any program must consider not only the qualifications of the teacher to teach aesthetics and the ability of the student to understand aesthetics, but the methods used to present the material. The teacher's role is one of training and guiding the child's interest in the proper direction. The teacher needs to inform himself by knowing how children learn, the pupil's age and maturation level, their motivation, their known and perceived needs, the physical conditions and time factor, and the child's interest. The teacher must be conversant in the topic and utilize the child's interest as a point of beginning, not as the exclusive direction. The student's role should be an active one. In teaching aesthetics the interest of the child can be maintained if the instructor moves quickly into the various phases of each topic, touching only on the most important points and allowing the pupils to build on them. In order to learn aesthetics it is necessary for the child to understand the elements of color, texture, and form and their interrelationships. This involves the handling of more than one variable, the forming of hypotheses and the evolution of logical conclusions. In the intellectual development of a child this ability generally becomes evident in the eleven to fifteen year age group. Therefore aesthetics of plants and gardens are best taught to children in grades four to six. When teaching aesthetics of plants and gardens, it is important for the student to understand the concepts of diversity, interrelationships, adaptation and change. These concepts can be further interpreted through the study of the aesthetic elements of color, texture, and form. When teaching these elements, the instructor is encouraged to use the methods and materials the teacher feels confident with and teaching in an interesting and informative manner, it is hoped that both the teacher and the pupil will realize that beauty is in the study, the acquiring of perception, the self satisfaction, the creating process.
Aesthetics, Child development, Children, Education- public gardens, Instruction