Day 19: Botany – the learning of words

Vocabulary.JPGWords, it is all about words. I love writing and reading but I have to confess I have never been good at vocabulary or word structure (Latin – leaves me cold). I just seem to get lost in all the words and word parts. It may come down to that I am super bad at memorizing things. I learn by doing – when I act on something I remember it. So giving me a bank of words and their meanings just doesn’t do it.

Given that bit of information why I signed up for a second time in a botany for artists class is beyond me. I am only at the beginning of learning to draw and well, I already told you my thoughts on vocabulary.

I struggled through the first series of classes but decided that a return visit might help me hold on to a few more new words. We begin each class with a slide lecture and it is all about vocabulary. The first two classes have been about roots – dicot, and monocoto’s. We have talked about mycorrhizae and nodules. We have covered vascular bundles in monocot cross sections and xylem, phloem and root hairs (these are very cute and hard to see even with a microscope).

Today we move on to stems. I read ahead to try and get a handle on the words for todays class. We will learn about nodes, internodes, bud, and bud scales and bud scars. There are leaf scars and bundle scars and lenticel – which are opening for gas and water to exchange in the stem surface.  Who knew?!

There is the meristems, vascular tissue and dermal tissue along with bulb, pseudobulbs, rhizome, spur shoot, stolons. tubers and vines.  (Just so you know I typed the word wine three times before I got vine spelled right – I must be in need of a little wine to help me out but it is to early in the day and I still have to go to class. No wine for me.)

After swimming in words and images of cells, and roots we go off to the real items and our drawings. The instructor has slides of cells and roots plus plants. We have been drawing and labeling beets, scallions, grasses, lettuce roots and more.

It is a slow process for me and if I don’t do my “homework” I can get lost very quickly. Today I was a good girl. I used the morning to review and finish labeling my drawings for the monocot roots. I wrote down as many words as I could and the information connected to that word along side of the drawings. I read over the sections in our Botany books that are connected to today’s topic of stems. I was once again a student.

Funny, how we can forget what it takes to be a good student. I also forgot what it take for me to learn new vocabulary. It takes time and repetition. It takes doing something with that new word not just reading it or hearing it. So now that I have that back in my head and know how to act on it. I need spring to really come.

I need to take what I am learning in the books, lectures and in my drawings and go out into the “field” – my backyard – and find those words on the plants. I need to draw them again from what is growing in my yard or in the woods so that I can really hold on to these new words and their meaning. I also need to realize that some of these new words I don’t have to remember. I am not going to be a micro biologist or a botany teacher. I just need to find the words that help me recognize plants, plant families and the information that helps me to learn to draw a plant correctly.

Learning as an adult is the process of defining what you need to know and how you want to use it. It is as much about learning what to let go of and learning what things to hold on to.  Learning new information can be hard but also fun once you sort out what you really want to learn or need to learn. The why we are learning is as important as what we are learning. It helps us to be focused and be interested.

Hmmmm – do we help our students understand this process – do they know why they are learning a specific topic and how they might use it in the future?  Have we helped them to be interested?



About Joanne Toft

I am a retired Minneapolis Public School teacher. I walk, garden, care for my Grandson and write. Life is good!
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7 Responses to Day 19: Botany – the learning of words

  1. Tamara says:

    Thanks for the intro to botany for artists! Fascinating. Why *did* you decide to take it? Do you teach art classes? Illustrate?

    • Joanne Toft says:

      No I have never taught art. I have just been interested in gardens, plants, science and have been interested in drawing plants for some time. We have a great botanical art school here in the Twin Cities and decided to give it a try.

  2. D says:

    IMO constantly learning new things is one of the best things we can do as teachers, so that we never forget what it’s like to be a student!

  3. Words are incredible and good for you for continue with the art classes! You can do it! Have you ever read Peter H. Reynolds The Word Collector?

  4. Trina Haase says:

    I am in awe that you are learning this – what an amazing way to spend your time! And this is a great post, too!

  5. mgminer says:

    Very thought provoking and inspiring. I wish I could find a class like that!!

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