Please download this companion instructional unit for your educational use here (pdf):

The View from Two Cabins
Carr and Thoreau: Literature and the Expression of Nature

Lydia Harrington 2013
Terry Parker High School
Jacksonville, FL
Interdisciplinary, Grade 10 and 11

The View from Two Cabins is an instructional unit designed to explore the work of Dr. Archie Carr, eminent researcher, teacher, writer, and pioneer in the field of conservation biology. Using the Carr Family Cabin, an historic preservation site located in Florida, as a symbolic link to Thoreau’s cabin in Walden Woods, the unit also creates a bridge between the ideas and philosophies of these two influential naturalists.


Old bricks of the chimney of the cabin with resurrection fern growing out of it

The curriculum portion of the website will provide lessons targeted for secondary level students aligned to the Common Core Standards for English and Language Arts (ELA). Designed for national implementation with emphasis on cross-curricular literacy development, the Common Core Standards are well suited for developing lesson materials for reading in history and the natural sciences. While much of Dr. Carr’s work took place in Florida, his scientific legacy is international in scope. Use of the Common Core Standards is intentional, affording access to standards-based lesson plans for a broad audience. However, Florida and many other states offer frameworks showing the alignment of regional standards to the Common Core. Alignment links will be provided to assist teachers in their documentation.

Section One: The Carr Cabin

A turkey feather resting on one of the “Contemplation Rounds” on the Nature Trail

Curriculum materials will focus on the restoration of the Carr Family Cabin and its significance as a model of environmental stewardship balancing rigorous science with the intangible inspiration of the Florida landscape.

Section Two: The Carr Family

The recently restored Carr Family Cabin is a symbol of one family’s commitment to understanding and preserving Florida’s intricate and complex environment for future generations. Beyond that, it served as an oasis and inspiration for a uniquely gifted family that embraced environmental stewardship as a calling. Lessons on the Carr Cabin will foster an understanding of the sense of place which made such a profound impact in shaping the work of this brilliant family of scientists, writers, and activists while keeping them grounded in the source of their vision.  Additional lessons will include biographical studies of individual family members and their influence in shaping a responsible conservation ethic for an increasingly complicated and fragile world.

Section Three: The Writings of Archie Carr

Beyond the persona of Dr. Archie Carr the eminent scientist, there was a second celebrated persona of Archie Carr, the writer. Curriculum materials in this portion will provide a series of lessons using his essays on natural history as centerpieces, including: “The Bird and the Behemoth,” “Armadillo Dilemma,” “Vignettes,” “Hound Magic,” “Wewa Pond,” “A Dubious Future,” and “Eden Changes.” Archie Carr’s writing was as multifaceted as his personality, and lessons will also showcase his irrepressible sense of humor through “A Subjective Key to the Fishes” and his mastery of the short story form in “The Black Beach,” which earned him the recognition of the O. Henry Memorial Award. Each lesson will be designed as an interdisciplinary exploration, utilizing Carr’s writing as a center branching outward toward links in other core areas of study including science, history, math, and the arts.

– Lydia Harrington, Curriculum Specialist, Duval County Schools