Our Human-Plant Connection

By Clary, Renee; Wandersee, James | Science Scope, April-May 2011 | Go to article overview

Our Human-Plant Connection


Clary, Renee, Wandersee, James, Science Scope


[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Glance around your classroom: Do you see any green, leafy potted plants growing in the corner, or on the windowsill? Now, think about your curriculum: Other than a required unit on botany--namely the parts of a plant or a comparison of the life cycles of angiosperms and gymnosperms--do you incorporate plant topics into your science classroom? What about interesting news articles or field excursions: Do you tend to point out the unusual animals or Earth events to your students, but seldom mention anything about the plants you come across?

If you are like the majority of our colleagues, you quickly realized from these questions that you have a "plant deficit" in your curriculum. However, the good news is that it is relatively easy to incorporate plants into your curriculum and extend their use beyond the botany unit into other scientific arenas. There are numerous web-based resources for teachers, including the Human Flower Project (HFP) website, which offers numerous vignettes on all aspects of flowering plants. In addition to botany and invasive plant lessons, you can find interesting stories about the history of science, ethnographic plant studies, food uses, ecology, taxonomy and systematics, environmental science, genetics, medicine, flower experiments, and more!

Why should we teach about plants?

Humans depend on plants: They provide nourishment, shelter, and clothing. Whereas geologists typically state, "If you don't grow it, you mine it." However, the reverse of that argument is just as true, "If you can't mine it as an Earth resource, then you have to grow it."

We typically do not focus much attention on plants. Try to describe what you see in Figure 1. If you said, "a mother lion and her three cubs," you, like the majority of viewers, ignored the many plants that are pictured.

Although plants serve as the basis for most of the animal habitats on our planet, we are "zoocentric" and typically focus more on the animals. Animals move around in the landscape and they are more similar to us.

[FIGURE 1 OMITTED]

We coined the term plant blindness to describe how humans often do not notice the plants in their environment. This leads to our failure to recognize their importance in our ecosystem, and our typical ranking of plants as "inferior" when they are compared to animals (Wandersee and Schussler 1999; Wandersee and Clary 2006). As a result, we fail to recognize our dependence upon plants. Furthermore, even our extinction focus is on animals, despite the fact that approximately one out of every eight plants is threatened. People often do not realize that without bamboo, there would be no pandas.

How does plant blindness impact our students? If your student population is similar to the other populations we surveyed (Wandersee, Clary, and Guzman 2006), then upon graduating from high school, 77% of your students will have never grown a plant by themselves. Almost 10% of them will not have picked fruit from a tree, nor will be able to remember any children's story that featured a plant (Wandersee, Clary, and Guzman 2006).

Incorporating plants in the classroom

As educators, we can combat plant blindness and extend students' knowledge about plants; our students' education about plants does not have to end with the conclusion of botany units. There are many web-based plant resources that can be used to broaden our students' perspectives about the green, leafy world around us. Figure 2 organizes some of our favorite Internet resources. One of the more varied sites, the Human Flower Power (HFP) website (www.humanflowerproject.com) offers plant education within the context of a large variety of topics. Since its inception in 2004, the website has grown to over 300 pages that feature photographs and articles about plants. Art, cooking, culture and society, ecology, gardening and landscape, medicine, politics, religion, customs, and travel are categories of plant resources and stories that were contributed by an international team of correspondents. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Our Human-Plant Connection
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.