Thayer, Learning about Bark

Following is an example of mimetic pedagogy based on empirical facts:

‘What is this? A Piece of Bark. All Look at it. Where do we find bark? On Trees. On What part of trees? Look and see.’ (The teacher brings in a piece of the stem of a tree on which the bark still remains.)

‘On the outside. Repeat together—“Bark is the outer part of the stems of trees.”

‘Look at the bark; what do you perceive? It is brown. Repeat—”Bark is brown.” Look again; is it like glass? No, we cannot see through it. What can you say of it then? We cannot see through bark. Compare it with glass. It does not shine. When anything does not shine at all, it is said to be dull. What is the bark? It is dull. Repeat—“The bark is dull.” Show me some things in the room that are dull.

‘Now feel the bark. It is rough. And what more? It is dry.

‘Now look: (The teacher separates the fiber.) It has strings or hairs. These strings or hairs are called fibers, and we say the bark is fibrous. Repeat—”The bark is fibrous.” Some plants have very fibrous stems, and are very useful to us on this account; here are some fibers of hemp; and here are some of flax, which supplies much of our clothing.

‘I think you can find out something more if you feel the bark again. Yes; it is hard.

‘Now repeat all you have said. “Bark is the outside covering of the stems of trees; it is brown; we cannot see through it; it is rough, dull, dry, hard, and fibrous.”’


Thayer, V.T. 1928. The Passing of the Recitation. Boston: D.C. Heath. pp. 8–9. Quoting from Elizabeth Mayo, ‘A Manual of Elementary Instruction’. || WorldCat


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