Monday, July 16, 2007

PTSW: Always a Rose

As a science teacher in elementary school I often mention ol' Carolus Linnaeus and his scientific classification of plants and animals.

Now, I know the common affliction of naturalists and environmental teachers is the "Point and Name" syndrone. Knowing the scientific name for Quercus alba is not nearly as important as helping students to realize the importance of white oaks to the diet of Native Americans and 180+ species of the fauna of the eastern woodlands and to the lumber industry. And though I like knowing Toxicodendron radicans when I see it for its glossy red new leaves and lush green leaves and white berries of summer, it's more practical to know to avoid touching the hairy vines and "leaflets three", however lovely, of poison ivy. (By the way, when did they change the name from Rhus radicans, and why?) Still I want my students to know that scientists have a way of classifying all living things, and that anyone can "key out" an unknown plant or animal with a good field guide.

Anyway, the topic of classification brings to mind the little poem Robert Frost wrote when he discovered that the family Rosaceae includes much more than the bunches sold at your local florist shop.

The Rose Family

The rose is a rose,
And was always a rose.
But now the theory goes
That the apple's a rose,
And the pear is, and so's
The plum, I suppose.
The dear only knows
What will next prove a rose.
You, of course, are a rose
But were always a rose.

by Robert Frost

I wasn't the first online writer to think of Robert Frost and Linnaeus simultaneously. Here's a good elementary discussion of scientific classification.
The wonderful surprises of the internet never fail to astound me. I google "Linnaeus Robert Frost" and I find the article above. And then this fellow's blog. Like mine, his has occasional misspellings, repeated words, and other careless mistakes. He can ramble a bit. But what an enthusiast! And what interesting stories of Linnaeus and his teachers and students. I wonder if any of my readers will enjoy this guy.


The series of posts, A Poem to Start the Week, is my little anthology of poetry, many of which I have used with my students in elementary schools during 27 years of teaching.

Previous Poems to Start the Week: Home at Last
Bag of ToolsCarpe DiemPoems About PoetryMan's Best Friend
Spelling is Tough Stough!
Blue MarbleTacks, Splinters, Apples and Stars
Oh, Captain, My Captain!MetaphorIntroducion to Poetry
Loveliest of TreesFlax-Golden TalesThe Dinosaurs Are Not All Dead
Owl PelletsMummy Slept LateJust My Size
The Kindest Things I KnowMiles to GoLove that Brother
Oh, Frabjous Day!

Other Posts about Children's Literature:

The Lion's Paw top kid's OOP book!
Aslan is Dead!
Multiplying People, Rice, and Readers
A Teacher's Life

You can read some of my own efforts at poetry here.
And then there's Alien Invasion.

A weblog dedicated to Poetry for Children.
Watch Sonja Cole's reviews of children's books at

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