Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Interesting Spin on Things

I'm reading the book I mentioned in my last post - Last Child in the Woods -Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder, by Richard Louv-starting with the quotes in the front of the book. The first one is a quote by Walt Whitman, a fabulous writer and naturalist:

There was a child went forth every day,
And the first object he look'd upon, that object he became,
And that object became part of him for the day or a certain part of the day,
Or for many years or stretching cycles of years.
The early lilacs became part of this child,
And grass and white and red morning glories, and white and red clover,
and the song of the phoebe-bird,
And the Third-month lambs and the sow's pink-faint litter,
and the mare's foal and the cow's calf,...

The second quote is from a fourth-grader in San Diego:

I like to play indoors better 'cause that's where all the
electrical outlets are.

How disturbing is that? Yet it's quite believeable. It takes effort to teach a child to appreciate the natural world, and our society isn't set up for that. How many people do you know who take their children camping, or encourage outdoor play? How many parents are heard saying, "It's a beautiful day today. Turn off that TV (or computer) and go outside and find something to do?" And that doesn't mean running around downtown, it means playing in the yard or at the neighborhood park or in the woods. It means building a tree house, playing red-light green-light (remember that game?), catching frogs or going fishing.

Unfortunately safety is becoming an issue, and parents are decidedly more cautious about letting their children "run around." They can't play outside after dark, like we used to do when we were kids. That used to be the START of the fun, in our neighborhood. Street lights came on, the kids went outside after dinner, and we didn't come home until we were called. And we sometimes "didn't hear" the first couple of calls.

But it doesn't mean we don't have a responsibility to teach our children, grandchildren, ANY children about using their imagination, playing with other children, creating their own games and activities, and enjoying fresh air, sunshine, and all the natural world has to offer. Even in a city, there are natural things, as the author of this book points out.

So, I will keep reading this book, and keep being an advocate for educating young people about the importance of taking care of their environments, and having fun at the same time. They need to learn to pay attention...now...before we lose our valuable resources. These young people are the ones who will take care of the land and enviroment, after all.

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