Last Child in the Woods
Last Child in the Woods, Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv is an inspirational book. Richard Louv mainly talks about children not getting enough exposure to nature and all the problems that are caused from it such as; school (academically), behavior, health, emotional feelings, anxiety and depression. He explains that children from the age of six to eleven rates of obesity has increased and two out of ten American children are obese; because instead of going outside and playing they are sitting in the house watching TV or on the computer.
In 1983 Howard Gardner came up with seven intelligences, and recently he added a new one; naturalist intelligence. When this describes a person it means they are able to recognize plants, animals and many other parts of nature; which everyone should be able to do. Not only are the characterizations of this additional intelligence just being able to recognize parts of nature, but the person has to have a love for, an interest for and care about nature and all its parts.
Physical Education in schools is not how it was when I was in school.Children only get about 30 minutes and that usually contains them doing an organized sport they may not be interested in or and running from one fence to another. When Louv talks about children being outside in nature, which does not mean on the blacktop, he refers to a “green” area. Schools are also beginning to cut out recess, which all children need. Research says nature can be used as a theory for children with ADHD and can sometimes take the place of their medication, Ritalin.The more “green” children with ADHD and ADD are around the better they are all together, especially in school. They are able to focus and concentrate more, have a higher attention span, they are more creative, get along better with others, are able to deal with peer pressure, and will have a better behavior.
There are many teenagers who have never been outside of their urban city and have never been in a “green” area for a long period of time. Once they have that experience that will change their whole life and there way of thinking.They will know and understand how beautiful and important nature is to them and others. Computers are beginning to take over schools and because of that music classes are being dropped and art classes are becoming less and less hands-on and have less to do with nature. What school districts and some educators fail to understand is nature helps with children’s cognitive learning. Many children are associating outside with fear. They are afraid to go outside and wander by themselves.
Sometimes part of that fear comes from their parents trying to protect them and telling them about strangers, and about people getting hurt; little do they know that instead of helping parents are putting fear in their children. If a child is bored, one thing they can do is go outside. Children do not like going outside or being around nature often, but if you expose children to nature while they are still babies they will learn to find interest for it and the child will rarely complain about being bored. Nature builds self confidence, which a lot of young children lack, it also makes them stronger.Nature is no where in the schools curriculum, but it is important for educators to add it in as many ways as they possibly can. The problem is some educators fail to realize how important nature is to children. When I begin teaching I plan to have some of my class outside in the “green”, sitting on the grass and or underneath a tree.
When the whether permits we will have our reading and meditation time outside for sure. Our meditation time will be time for the children to get everything out of there system that is stressing them in any way.I will try my best to implement nature into my as many of my lessons as I can. The classroom will be full of plants and a couple of small classroom pets, and it will be the student’s responsibility to take care of them. That will help them to learn to love, respect, appreciate, care for and how to take care of nature. Even just having plants and animals inside the classroom will help the children with their everyday lives and during the day especially when the whether does not permit us to go outside and enjoy what nature has to offer.Children in environmental based programs tend to do better then those students in traditional programs.
Taking the students on field trips that have to do with the lesson tends to be very effective. The children seem to take in more and enjoy it better then just sitting in a classroom. From the age of learning to walk and being able to play outside without my mom to elementary school my childhood was very similar to the baby-boomers in this book.I use to climb trees, make mud pies with my best friend, go in the woods just to play hide-and-seek, play in the rain fully clothed, etc. I remember when I was in middle school I would rush to get done with my homework so I could go outside and play with my friends in my neighborhood. We did not play in “green” areas as much as we played on paved roads, but just being outside felt wonderful. When I was not allowed to go outside with my friends on weekdays and weekends, I remember I would cry because I loved being outside that much.
We would ride our bikes and scooters or skate downtown to the boardwalk, play basketball, kickball and other kind of sports in the church, that most of us attended, parking lot that was near to our houses. It wasn’t until I was in the eighth grade when going outside was no long interesting to me. I was more interested in playing computer games, games on my play station, watching TV or just talking on the phone to my friends. Similar to the book, around that time my mom was scared to let me go too far from the house, because she was afraid something might happen to me.I had to be in front of the house by the time the street lights came on. Just like what was happening to a couple of the children in the book, I think my mom trying to protect me by telling me “don’t go too far, because something might happen” scared me more than anything else and that might be what made me enjoy being inside more. I remember when I was in about sixth or seventh grade, my family and I went on a skiing trip in northern Virginia.
My step-dad, mom and I drove from South Carolina to Sterling, Virginia to meet my aunt, her husband and their two children. The next morning at about five o’clock A.M. we began loading the bus for the ride to the ski resort. I know on the ride to the resort the scenery was beautiful, but just like any other child would do I slept, listened to my CD’s, and played with my cousin, instead of paying attention to nature as we rode by the mountains and more. Once we finally arrived after what seemed like a long drive I started to feel myself getting excited, because unlike my aunt and her family I never went skiing. The next day we went to the slopes and I had the best time I think I ever had still to this day.
I really got a chance to see how beautiful nature really is.I took ski lessons and would ski on the small slope over and over again until I was comfortable enough to accomplish the true slope. In order to get to the top of the slope you had to get on this ride that took you all the way to the top, which allowed people to see everything. That was a very beautiful site; we looked down on the whole ski resort and the area around it, with the snow on the trees and Greenland. I believe this trip and my trips to Hawaii and Barbados are what made me fall in love with nature. After seeing the beautiful scenery and the clear blue water in the islands,I began to love, cherish, care for, and become interested in nature more than I was prior to the vacations. This book is very important to science education, because science is the simplest subject to incorporate nature into.
Educators can almost add the students being in contact with nature to any lesson on their curriculum pattern for their grade level. When most students reach high school science becomes boring and the subject they despise the most and I believe a phenomenal way to keep them involved and interested in science is by implementing nature in the lessons