Gerd, Aleksandr Iakovlevich
Born Apr. 5, 1841; died Dec. 13 (25), 1888. Russian pedagogue and founder of a method of teaching the natural sciences as a scientific discipline and of an accompanying method of practical and laboratory work.
In 1863, Gerd graduated from St. Petersburg University as an extension student. From 1865 to 1871 he taught in the First Military Secondary School in St. Petersburg and was the director of the correctional colony for juvenile criminals (near St. Petersburg); later, after 1877, he was head of a women’s secondary school. Gerd considered the main aim of teaching the natural sciences in secondary school to be the development of a scientific outlook among students. He wrote the Textbook of Zoology (parts 1-2, 1877-83), Short Course of Natural Science (1878), and other books. He worked out a very complete method of teaching a course in inanimate nature for the youngest grades in school. Gerd’s textbook God’s World (he succeeded in finishing the first part: Book I—Earth, Air, and Water) and the methods manual for it, Object Lessons in Primary School (1883), were for a long time the basic textbooks for the course in inanimate nature. Gerd’s work as an expert in the textbook section of the St. Petersburg municipal school commission from 1880 to 1883 was very important in spreading advanced pedagogical ideas.