To Linnaeus or Not?

To Linnaeus or not? Are we naming the natural world around us enough? How are we creating a love of the land around us and subsequently passing that on to our children? It is no question that we live in an ever changing world. We are driven by technology and the need to keep getting ahead. But are we losing sight of what is right in front of us? Our children are the future generations that will one day care for the land and be the stewards of its continued health. As parents and educators are we doing enough to make this happen?

In our little world up on the side of Roundtop Mountain, we name all that we see. And if we encounter something we do not know, it’s the perfect opportunity to bring out the little scientist in all of us. We take notes and pictures, we make observations and then we head off to do research. At six weeks into school, we just started to hear the questions: what is the name of that plant, why is this leaf yellow, where did the bugs go….. We love to hear all the questions the children have. It shows us that the children are comfortable in their new school setting and are ready to dive into the work of the child.

“Young children clearly have tremendous capacity for learning about creatures (whether natural or manmade), but they are presently more inspired by ‘synthetic subjects’ than by ‘living creatures’. [Evidence] is linking ‘loss of knowledge about the natural world to growing isolation from it’. We need, ‘to re-establish children’s links with nature if we are to win over the hearts and minds of the next generation’, for ‘we love what we know … What is the extinction of the condor to a child who has never seen a wren’? –

We have dived into the fall colors and joy of the season. The children are asking the “what” and “why” of all that we are encountering. In the field we have been enjoying the golden yellow of the Hawkweed flower. “Hawkweeds are perennials that have coarse hairs, grow as leafy rosettes, and produce dandelion-like flowers at the tips of erect stems. They also form horizontal stems (stolons) that creep along the soil surface rooting at the nodes and giving rise to new rosettes. Hawkweeds reproduce by air-borne seeds and stolons. YELLOW HAWKWEED produces rosettes consisting of 10-inch-long leaves and bunches of yellow flowers at the tips of 3-foot-tall leafless stems. Emerging from ORANGE HAWKWEED rosettes are 2-foot-tall leafless stems with terminal groups of orange flowers. MOUSEEAR HAWKWEED rosettes are only about 3 inches across and 1 to 3 yellow flowers form at the tips of its 1-foot-tall leafless stems.” -

Each time we visit the field, many children pick the hawkweed flowers and tell us they are bringing them home to their moms and dads. Most likely, they never make it, but please know these wonderful little naturalists are thinking of their families all the time. We hope that you too, as families are helping to keep the natural world alive with words of nature. American Beech, Hawkweed, Cirrus Clouds, Red Oak……..This is just a small picture into our world of learning and naming all that we see and do on little Roundtop Mountain.

To read the full Article by the Guardian: For more information on Carl Linnaeus:

For more information on Hawkweed:

Jennifer MacDonaldComment