Richard Louv and Nature Deficit Disorder
Posted by Stephen Dill on February 10, 2009
Recently Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods, wrote in his blog, Field Notes From The Future, that he felt the “future is going to be better than it used to be.” Richard writes of the growing success of efforts of the Children & Nature Network to raise awareness through over 50 state and regional campaigns and the C&NN website. Their objective rings true: give children of all ages the chance to experience what you are teaching—hands on and in context—so that so much more is learned and appreciated than the one or more learning points of the lesson and the experience is so much more memorable. I responded in a comment, “Kudos on your efforts to date. You are so right, the future will be better–awareness has a way of improving things. The inexorable decline of the role of in-situ exposure as a key part of educating anyone, not just children, in the natural sciences–or physics, or accounting, or most any topic–is one of the many negative unintended consequences of the otherwise noble quest to provide basic education for every child that began as an incredible dream in the 18th Century. While our world will no doubt sustain the system of centralized, costly, inefficient schools for another two decades or more, I am advocating for the initiation of a reboot of public education to start over and redesign it from square one. If you could do that today, would your resulting system resemble much of what we have today?”
I pose that question again to you. Everyone is either an investor, client or an employee of one or more public education systems. If you could start from scratch, with no idea how it should look, who would it serve? How would it serve that audience? When and where would it serve it? This is the Ed Reform X Games. Starting over is hard to do! I encourage you to comment here with whatever comes to mind. No one can be wrong, for we are not yet in trials to determine what works best. But if the idea of going out into a field to teach biodiversity excites your imagination of the public education of the future, then tell us. And then go read Richard’s book, for he cites hundreds more examples of taking education out of the classroom to a more open, resource-rich environment of learning.
Thank you, Richard, for all you and the movement you have spawned has done and will continue to do!