Monday, January 30, 2012

Nature Deficit Disorder

I have read 'Last Child in the Woods' twice and loved it both times.  I also just recently finished Richard Louv's 'The Nature Principle', which is applying the Last Child to adults, essentially.

He talks extensively about how the lack of contact with 'real' nature is wreaking serious havoc on our children, and adults as well.  Children study the rainforest in their classes, but they have no idea what habitat lies outside their own homes.  And if kids don't see nature, real and brutal, then they get this inflated sense of their own self worth.  And they really ultimately lose their drive to take care of the environment, as the real incentive-long term, only comes from a real connection to nature.

Plus, he talks quite a bit about the science behind why getting out into nature helps the human brain develop properly. 

He is not down on technology, he just feels it's important to have a balance of both in one's life.

He gives a lot of great examples of people getting back to nature.  Schools, clubs, families, even whole villages and cities!

It has been a good reminder of how important it is for myself and my children to get outside. I work REALLY hard at making sure my family has good, healing, nourishing foods and enough sleep.  I work hard at teaching and mentoring my children in the best way possible, to ensure that they not only learn what I feel they should know, but that they understand it and apply it to their lives.  I pray and work hard at growing spiritually and passing along what I learn to my kids . All of these things take a lot of deep thinking and long-term planning.  They don't 'just happen'.

But one thing I feel I have failed miserably at, is getting my children out into nature, and esp teaching them to really appreciate the little things it has to teach them.  I feel science is best learned in a formal setting, only after exhaustive field research, which should happen when a child is young, and has hours to spend on it.

I do believe that getting my children into nature is extremely important, and for many reasons.    Last Child helped me to clarify some concrete reasons for it.

But... I have so many excuses.  We live in an urban area, it's hard to get to 'nature', as it's a drive and it's never convenient for short trips.  We don't camp, although we want to.  The parks cost money for parking, etc.

But, esp when reading  Tom Brown's Guide to Nature and Survival for Children, this summer, and then Nature Principle, I was reminded of how important it is, and how we can find nature around us, if we just look.

So..... this is my resolve, to spend time with my kids, outdoors.  This place is actually only a mile away.  I found out about it a few years ago and we have visited a few times.  But, it's close enough to make it a regular part of our lives, and it's important enough, that I put the effort into it.  Once it warms up of course. :)  I hope to try and go there once or twice a week in the afternoons.  Preferably find a quiet place that we can scope out and hang out regulary.  I hope to 'teach' the kids to be aware of what is around them. I hope to become aware myself. To stop and smell the roses and actually see the wildlife that surrounds us.  And, if it works out how I'd like, to find out what one place looks like as the seasons change.  I want to see the 'miniature eco-systems' around us that are only visible to the patient, searching eye.  I can see how that will improve all of our concentration skills, as well as problem solving skills.  Both things we need desperately! 

I'd much rather be in the mountains, or on our own property on a farm.  But, I can't keep using that as an excuse to cure myself and my children of our nature deficit disorder.

I also love the idea of being outside for half an hour every day, no matter what.  Learning to be outside, and dress appropriately, and just making it a habit.  But, of course, in typical Sarah style, I can't just 'kick' my kids outside, I have to be the example. And it's just too darned cold for that!!  Although, they do choose to go out on their own all but the most miserable days, so that is nice.  Even if only for a quick run to some imaginary battle or party.

I love God's beautiful world. I love 'nature'.  It has always grounded me to take a walk in it. And I have been drawn to the mountains for as long as I can remember.  Why did I end up in New Jersey instead of Colorado I still don't understand (other then to meet Drew of course, but then...).  But God does.  And I'm tired of making that my excuse to not teach my children that same love of nature that I have.  It's cheaper then any pills or therapist, and generally works far better.  I tell you, I've solved my own, and the whole world's problems more then once, while walking in a forest.

We can recycle and reuse and plant as many trees as we want.  But the only way to really come to appreciate the earth that God has made, is to get to know it intimately.  To truly see how it affects our lives, to see how it reflects God's glory and splendor and justice.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Sarah. I enjoy your posts. I work for Darrell Knoch, author of Mastering a Healthy Self Image, and he tells me you were interested in writing a review (which we'd love, since your style is so conversational). If this sounds like something you still want to do:

    And thanks for your view on the world. It inspires me.