The Young Charles Darwin - Student, Naturalist and Gardener / Mladi Charles Darwin – študent, naravoslovec in vrtnar

author: Peter D. A. Boyd, Shrewsbury Museums Service
published: Nov. 9, 2009,   recorded: October 2009,   views: 587
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Charles Darwin was one of the most important scientists who ever lived. He was born in 1809 (200 years ago) in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, England. He was fortunate to have a wealthy father who was a doctor and be part of an intelligent and educated family. He lived in a large house called ‘The Mount’ with servants and a large garden, on the edge of the town and open countryside. He had developed a strong interest in natural history before he attended his first school at the age of eight, having been taught previously by his mother, brother and sisters. Many poor children of his age never had the opportunity to attend school. However, he was unfortunate because his mother died soon after he started at day school. He was sent to Shrewsbury Grammar School as a boarder for seven years where he studied Latin and Greek but little that interested him. Science was not taught in schools at that time but Charles developed his knowledge by collecting natural history specimens and helping his older brother with Chemistry experiments at home. He was not an exceptional child at school but his father taught him about observation, recording and analysis of information in the garden and surgery, assisting with his patients and diagnosing illnesses. This prepared him for Edinburgh University where he studied to become a doctor but he ‘dropped out’ because he did not like operations or dissections and was sent to Cambridge University to train for The Church (to become a priest). However, both in Edinburgh and Cambridge he disliked lectures, preferring to read about the subjects in books and spent most of his time having a good time with his friends and collecting beetles. However, he worked hard enough to pass examinations and achieved a good Bachelor of Arts Degree as a first step to becoming a clergyman. That career path was cut short because he had impressed influential professors and lecturers who admired his scientific prowess at a time when the study of natural history (studying the wonders of God’s Creation) was considered an appropriate pastime for a clergyman! He was recommended for the role of ship’s naturalist on the survey ship ‘The Beagle’ because of his natural history skills and because he was ‘a gentleman’ of the right social background to be the captain’s companion. His self-motivated study of plants, animals and rocks commenced as a child in Shrewsbury and encouraged at last by perceptive teachers, propelled him into a new direction. However, his five year voyage on The Beagle around the world and his subsequent life of research would have been impossible if his father had not supported him financially and later, when he married, invested a large sum of money, the income from which supported his research, wife and family. He had been raised in a one-parent family and did not do well at school where his interests were dismissed as a waste of time. However, he had the support of his family and eventually, at university, found the support of teachers who recognised his potential.


Charles Darwin je bil eden najpomembnejših znanstvenikov naše zgodovine! Rodil se je leta 1809 (pred 200 leti), v Shrewsburyju, v okraju Shropshire, v Angliji. Dobro popotnico so mu predstavljali premožen oče, po poklicu zdravnik, ter izobražena in razgledana družina. Živeli so na obrobju mesta, v veliki hiši, imenovani »The Mount« (Gora) s služabniki in velikim vrtom. Naravoslovje je Charlesa začelo zanimati, že ko so ga poučevali mati, brat in sestre, še preden je pri osmih letih začel obiskovati v šolo. Mnogi revnejši otroci tedaj do šolanja sploh niso prišli. A tudi malemu Charlesu ni bilo lahko, saj mu je že kmalu po vstopu v šolo umrla mati. Sedem let je prebil na gimnaziji v Shrewsburyju, kjer je bival v internatu. Tam se je učil latinščino in grščino, a ga to ni preveč zanimalo. Naravoslovnih predmetov tedaj v šolah niso poučevali, a Charles je svoje naravoslovno znanje razvijal sam, med drugim tudi s tem, ko je doma starejšemu bratu pomagal pri kemijskih poizkusih. V šoli ni bil izjemen učenec, a ga je oče na domačem vrtu ter v ordinaciji pri kirurških operacijah in diagnosticiranju bolezni učil opazovati, beležiti in analizirati podatke. Tako se je pripravil na študij medicine na Edinburški univerzi. Ker pa ni maral operacij in seciranja, študija ni dokončal. Poizkusil je še v Cambridgeu, s študijem teologije. Tako kot v Edinburgu je tudi tu ugotovil, da ga zelo odbijajo vsa predavanja, in je raje študiral iz knjig, veliko časa pa posvetil tudi zabavi s prijatelji in zbiranju hroščev. Kljub vsemu je uspešno opravil izpite in bil na pravi poti do duhovniškega poklica. Na vplivne profesorje je s svojim naravoslovnim znanjem naredil močan vtis, in to v času, ko je veljalo naravoslovje (ali »preučevanje čudes božjega stvarjenja«) za primerno prostočasno dejavnost duhovnikov. Njegova nesojena duhovniška kariera je bila prekinjena, ko so ga, zaradi naravoslovnega znanja in ker je izhajal iz »primerne« družine, predlagali za »ladijskega naravoslovca« in kapitanovega spremljevalca na raziskovalni ladji Beagle. Vztrajno samostojno proučevanje rastlin, živali in kamnin, začeto v otroštvu in nazadnje vzpodbujeno s strani dojemljivih učiteljev, ga je pognalo v novo smer. Vendar njegovo petletno potovanje z ladjo Beagle okoli sveta in njegovo kasnejše raziskovalno delo ne bi bila možna brez očetove izdatne finančne pomoči. Tudi po Charlesovi poroki je oče vložil veliko denarja v investicije, s prihodki katerih je Charles plačeval svoje raziskovalno delo in vzdrževal družino. Odrasel je v enostarševski družini, v šolah, kjer so njegovo zanimanje za naravoslovje označili za izgubo časa, pa ni bil preveč uspešen. Kljub temu je vselej imel podporo družine in kasneje na univerzi vendarle našel tudi razumevanje in podporo učiteljev, ki so prepoznali njegove zmožnosti.

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