Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Nature Deficit Disorder- Who Knew?

Have you heard of this?  Nature Deficit Disorder.  It's the "staggering divide between children and the outdoors," says Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods and The Nature Principle.

Last Child in the Woods, by Richard Louv - book cover
I heard Louv speak at Central Michigan University a couple of years ago and was enthralled that he so effectively makes the case for this "disorder," and compels people to do something about it.

Louv's  message is about enriching our lives, making our lives stronger and more full, by not just protecting the living world, but also by celebrating it.  I am liberally using terms he also used, from book jackets and my notes, because he is a strong and compelling author and speaker.

We have always encouraged our children and grandchildren to play outdoors, and to use their imaginations.  Homemade Halloween costumes, hours playing in the yard and with children still remember the day we cut the chord on the television.  Literally!

And just the other day I finally witnessed a classroom which embraced this philosophy as well.  I was observing one of my student teachers leading a lesson at the Harris Nature Center, near Lansing.  All children were dressed for the spring day, and were actively engaged in a lesson about ecosystems - surrounded by the birds singing, wind blowing, trees and flower budding, and the sound of the river running.  The sun also cooperated, which was great because it was chilly in the wind.

Following that lesson, and sack lunches, the children were led to the river banks, where stools were set up and journals were brought out of zip-lock bags.  Everyone settled in for an hour of listening, and watching and writing and sketching.  Of course, I was thinking they needed cameras, too, but I'm quite content if children are this immersed in nature and able to express themselves.

What a great day.  I spent a couple of hours with the class, talking with the classroom teacher about the fund-raiser he conducts each year to fund this field trip, which takes place each day for a week, and entails being bussed quite a distance to take part in the experience.  The center runs some demonstrations and lessons, and the classroom teacher/student teacher supplemented with curricular items.

Take the time to read Louv's books, and then put his suggestions into practice.  Our young people need these lessons - as do their families and friends!

Has anyone read these books?  Does anyone take time to teach their children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, students, etc. about our natural world?


Anonymous said...

i try and spend as much time as possible outdoors, but given the size of the island and the density of the population, its not always the best thing to be outside if peace and quiet is what i am in search of. i will look into these books. thanks.

S. Etole said...

My grandson and his parents do a lot of camping and walking in the woods. They find a lot of enjoyment in this.

joyce said...

I think that line is a great one for today's kids who are literally attached to their things by a cord, or rather, now, a cordless cord. Speaking of cut the cord of your TV? LOL!!

Jeanie said...

Harris Nature Center is wonderful -- I sure hope more kids discover the wonders of the outdoors. You don't have to be a camper or hiker to do it -- just an observant and curious mind! Love the bunny photo especially!

Sandy K. said...

I'm so glad our spring is turning to summer and we can be outside more. Some of our grandchildren are addicted to being outdoors. Others, not so much. Keep spreading the message! And Joyce,when my husband cut that cord I think I was more shocked than the kids! And panicked:) But he assured me he could fix it easily for us. NOW I LOL:).

Jeanie said...

I know I told you how much I liked that bunny! Hope all is well and you're just profoundly busy. We're back from Europe and shortly after we returned, said farewell to our dear Gypsy. It's been a rough month, but I hope the summer will bring back the joy.