29 Nov 2012

Children must experience nature in order to learn it's worth saving

The remarkable collapse of children's engagement with nature - which is even faster than the collapse of the natural world - is recorded in Richard Louv's book Last Child in the Woods, and in a report published recently by Britain's heritage conservation body, the National Trust. Since the 1970s the area in which children may roam without supervision has decreased by almost 90 per cent.

In one generation the proportion of children regularly playing in wild places in Britain has fallen from more than half to fewer than one in 10. In the US, in just six years (1997-2003) children with particular outdoor hobbies fell by half. Eleven- to 15-year-olds in Britain now spend, on average, half their waking day in front of a screen.

There are several reasons for this collapse: parents' irrational fear of strangers and rational fear of traffic, the destruction of the fortifying commons where previous generations played, the quality of indoor entertainment, the structuring of children's time, the criminalisation of natural play. The great indoors, as a result, has become a far more dangerous place than the diminished world beyond.
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This reminds me of asking my class (3D Sustainability) at Curtin University last year about their hobbies and I was stunned that more then 90% of the hobbies named where indoor and computer/TV related. The only student with an outdoor hobby was surf live saver in his spare time.

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