Through the work of science curriculum committees over the past eight or so years, the New Haven Public Schools have developed and published a statement of Philosophy of Science, course Content Objectives, Performance Objectives, Course Outlines/Syllabi, and Assessment Measures for K-12 science education. To date, high school science course content and performance standards and related materials have been developed for integrated science, biology, chemistry, human physiology, physics, and environmental science. The newly implemented Advanced Placement Environmental Science (APES, College Board) curriculum is a national AP curriculum, and I am currently engaged in incorporating the APES curriculum into District curriculum publications, with elaboration based on my interests, experience, and strengths. This past year I introduced a new elective course to the New Haven high school curriculum, which I call The Dynamic Earth (Introduction to Physical and Historical Geology). I am developing content and performance standards for this geology course, based on the National Science Education Standards of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), the Project 2061 Benchmarks and Content Standards of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and the New Haven District science curriculum. The New Haven science standards are derived in large part from NAS and AAAS science standards.
In The Dynamic Earth, my students study the rock record and the geologic time scale, weathering and erosion, topography, the hydrologic cycle, rivers, deserts and arid regions, glaciers, ocean processes, atmosphere, volcanism, and global patterns and processes of the Earth. In Environmental Science, we are more directly concerned with forests, fields, wetlands, deserts, global patterns of transfer of matter and energy, biological diversity, disturbance, and above all the interactions of humans with the natural environment and human-created environments. The Advanced Placement Environmental Science curriculum identifies six major topics for study (see APES Course Description, "Acorn Book"). They are:
Interdependence of Earth's Systems: 1) Fundamental Principles and Concepts (this unit incorporates the flow of energy; the cycling of matter; the solid Earth; the atmosphere; the biosphere) 2) Human Population Dynamics (this unit covers history and global distribution; carrying capacity local, regional, global; cultural and economic influences) 3) Renewable and Nonrenewable Resources: Distribution, Ownership, Use, Degradation (this unit addresses water; minerals; soils; biological; energy; land) 4) Environmental Quality (this unit deals with air/water/soil; solid waste; impact on human health) 5) Global Changes and Their Consequences (this unit treats first-order effects (changes); higher-order interactions (consequences)) 6) Environment and Society: Trade-Offs and Decision Making (this unit looks at economic forces; cultural and aesthetic considerations; environmental ethics; environmental laws and regulations (international, national, and regional); issues and options (conservation, preservation, restoration, remediation, sustainability, mitigation).
The text used in The Dynamic Earth is
(W.H. Freeman: Press and Siever), and the course readings come additionally from
The New York Times Science Times
, and other science current events publications. A supplementary text for The Dynamic Earth is
The Dynamic Earth: an Introduction to Physical Geology
, Fourth Edition (Wiley: Skinner and Porter). The APES text is
Living in the Environment: Principles, Connections, and Solutions
(Wadsworth: Miller). The Environmental Science text is
Environmental Science: The Way the World Works
(Prentice Hall: Nebel and Wright). Both environmental science courses draw heavily from science journals such as those listed above and from current events. Most of my previously developed Teachers Institute curriculum units have been written for the environmental science courses.
The specific objectives that I have identified for this curriculum unit are, as indicated above, closely matched with national science education standards. While I cannot provide an in-depth listing of content standards in this document (although I have them in unpublished form), some reference to unit topics which apply to national and district content standards is in order. I have developed this unit in keeping with the National Academy of Sciences/National Research Council recommendation (
National Science Education Standards
) that science education place more emphasis on: "understanding scientific concepts and developing abilities of inquiry; learning subject matter disciplines in the context of inquiry, technology, science in personal and social perspectives, and history and nature of science; integrating all aspects of science content; studying a few fundamental science concepts; and implementing inquiry as instructional strategies, abilities, and ideas to be learned."
The unit relates in particular to the following NAS/NRC content standards:
Content Standard: K-12. All students should develop understanding and abilities aligned with the following concepts and processes: systems, order, and organization; evidence, models, and explanation; constancy, change, and measurement; evolution and equilibrium; form and function.
Content Standards: 9-12. A. All students should develop abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry, and understandings about scientific inquiry. Physical Science: Content Standard B. All students should develop an understanding of: structure and properties of matter; motions and forces; conservation of energy and increase in disorder. Life Science: Content Standard C. All students should develop understanding of: biological evolution; interdependence of organisms; matter, energy, and organization in living systems. Earth and Space Science: Content Standard D. All students should develop an understanding of: energy in the earth system; geochemical cycles; origin and evolution of the earth system. Science and Technology: Content Standard E. All students should develop: abilities of technological design; understandings about science and technology. Science in Personal and Social Perspectives: Content Standard F. All students should develop understanding of: natural resources; environmental quality; natural and human-induced hazards; science and technology in local, national, and global challenges. History and Nature of Science: Content Standard G. All students should develop understanding of: science as a human endeavor; nature of scientific knowledge; historical perspectives.
I have also paid attention to science content standards as discussed in the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Project 2061 publication,
Benchmarks for Science Literacy
. Chapter topics in this document which apply to the present unit are: the nature of science; the physical setting; the living environment; human society; the designed world; the mathematical world; historical perspectives; common themes; and habits of mind.
Hudson River School of Painting
James Biddle, a former President of the National Historic Trust for Historic Preservation, is quoted as saying (Howat. 1972);
"throughout history the natural landscape has inspired the artistic expression of man. Thus it is not surprising that a region so richly endowed with great natural beauty as the Hudson River Valley should have produced countless individual works of art, poetry, and music. One of the most important contributions to the development of American artistic tradition is the work of a group of landscape painters of the last century known as the Hudson River School."
"regarding natural landscape as a direct manifestation of God, these men attempted to record what they saw as accurately as possible. Unlike European painters who brought to their canvases they styles and techniques of centuries, the Hudson River painters sought neither to embellish nor to idealize their scenes. They approached nature with reverence and portrayed it with the detailed care of a naturalist. Yet the results were more than photographically accurate."
The Hudson River and Luminist painters, who used light to greatest effect in their landscapes, did not limit their landscape paintings to New York State's famous Hudson River. Their inspiration came from such American landmarks as Niagara Falls and Kaaterskill Falls, from the Catskills and Berkshires of New York and Massachusetts, Lake George, the Green Mountains of Vermont and the White Mountains of New Hampshire, coastal and inland Maine, the salt meadows of eastern Massachusetts, the trap rock ridges of the Connecticut River Valley, Natural Bridge in Virginia, the vast landscapes of the American West (Rocky Mountains, Yellowstone, Yosemite, Sierra Nevadas), from Caribbean, Central American, and South American tropical and equatorial regions (Jamaica, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, including the Andes Mountains), the frozen lands of the Arctic, as well as European and Near Eastern landscapes. Thomas Cole is recognized as the first nineteenth century American painter to devote his artistic abilities to portraying the American landscape in grand and mythic proportions, and he is credited with inspiring a group of American painters to extend the reach of the Hudson River School of painting throughout the Americas and to the Old World. His American and European landscapes were produced from the mid-1820s until his death in 1848. It was his student Frederic Church, however, who elevated American landscape painting to an art form comparable in technical artistry, intellectual and emotional sophistication, and historical significance to the portrait paintings and historical paintings that previously defined the highest achievements of American painting.
After several decades of considerable artistic impact and great commercial success in the American art scene, Hudson River School landscape painting fell out of favor in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. Its revival in recognition as an expression of American art in its highest form has taken place in stages throughout the twentieth century, and especially since the early 1960s. Today, there is continuing scholarship in the historiography of this uniquely American genre of painting, providing fresh views of the Hudson River School and its painters. The paintings themselves have prominent display space devoted to them in museums around the country. New and insightful exhibitions focused on individual artists or providing important reexaminations of the works of several Hudson River artists are mounted on a seemingly regular basis. Accompanying catalogue publications now make available to students of the history of American painting a large body of writing on Frederic Church, his predecessors Cole and Durand, his contemporary "second generation" painters, and his successor landscape painters. Much of my preparation for the writing of this unit has been devoted to a reading of some of the recent literature on the Hudson River School of painting and to the critical examinations of Frederic Church's work in particular. I have paid particular attention to the writings of Church scholars Franklin Kelly and Gerald L. Carr, and I am aware that additional Church scholars whose writings I have not yet examined will continue to inform my appreciation of Church in the future. I have also devoted a considerable amount of time to my own detailed study of selected Church paintings at Yale Art Gallery, the New Britain Museum of American Art, and the Hartford Atheneum. I do not propose to attempt here a scholarly treatise on the Hudson River School or the works of Frederic Church. It is simply beyond the scope of this unit or my present time frame. Teachers who use this curriculum unit will need to do their own reading on nineteenth century American landscape painting and their own viewing of landscape pictures in order to provide necessary background for their teaching. In addition, I recognize that my consideration of oil sketches made by Church in preparation for his studio compositions would provide greater depth to my understanding (and my students' understanding) of his deep knowledge of natural history and more opportunities for meaningful teaching about the relation between art and science. The present unit is very much a work in progress.
Frederic E. Church's landscape paintings
Church's painting of West Rock is recognized as his first great landscape combining an accurate representation of nature with "higher" artistic aspirations and meanings. I present here a sample methodological analysis of
West Rock, New Haven
, including the description and deduction stages of analysis. The third stage of analysis, speculation, is where this and other Church landscape paintings are examined for their scientific (geological and ecological) content and significance. While I have not produced a detailed write-up on the science content of
West Rock, New Haven
, I provide some guidance in the Classroom Activities section on how a class of students might undertake a program of research on each of the five selected paintings and read their artistic and scientific content.