THE LAST CHILD IN THE WOODS: SAVING OUR CHILDREN FROM NATURE-DEFICIT DISORDER
Richard Louv is an expert in child advocacy who directly relates the lack of nature in the lives of current’s wired generation to some of the most worrying childhood trend, for instance depression, attention disorders and increased obesity, through his influential writing concerning the overwhelming split among children and outdoors. He terms this as nature-deficit in his work “Last Child in the Woods.”
Caroline (2006) asserts that Louv piece of work, Last Child in the Woods is a the initial that draws together a new and a mounting body of research that illustrates that direct disclosure to nature is vital for healthy childhood development together with adult’s ad children’s emotional and physical health. Louv does not only raise an alarm in his book but also gives practical resolutions and easy ways to cure the broken bond, most of which are in right within our backyard.
As the links of children with nature weaken and social, spiritual and psychological repercussions become obvious, new research indicate that nature can give strong therapy for such problems like depression, attention deficit disorder and obesity. Additionally, environmental-based education significantly improves consistent test scores and averages for grades points. Furthermore, it enhances problem solving skills, critical thinking and decision making. Subjective evidence strongly implies that childhood experiences in nature arouse creativity. “Consequently Louv speaks with all, teachers, parents, scientist, environmentalists, religious leaders and child development pollsters stakeholders, who realize the threat and gives solutions” (Caroline, 2006). He illustrates an alternative future to us, where parents assist their kids interact and encounter the natural world more profoundly-and obtain the joy of family togetherness in the process.
Even though a lot of publications have been made concerning the today’s kids-who are not aware that hamburgers originate from cows or who prefer playing Nintendo to outside and the poor urban kids that have never seen trees or stars, the Last child in the Woods is much than just this, it gives more heartbreaking and comprehensive analysis of the affiliation involving American kids and nature (Gordon, 2010).
In this book Louv uses three stages to trace this relationship existing between American children and nature. He refers to them as “three frontiers”. He describes the manner in which European settlers with their families shifted to far west, encountering nature practically and directly, within the initial frontier. Nature’s harshness compelled parents and their children to come up with inventive and utilitarian approaches to handle it (Louv, 2005).
The western frontier stopped up by 1890 paving way to Louv terms as second frontier that saw development of family farm. It later became “the era of suburban expansion during the end of World War II” (Caroline, 2006). The second frontier saw Americans abandon nature’s direct utilization even though they remained attached to it romantically. Here, the children pretended to explore canyons and live on prairie even though they did not. The third frontier began in 1993 when the annual farm of residents’ survey was ended by the U.S Census Bureau. It illustrated that the survey was no longer appropriate as American farm population had reduced 40% to 1.9% from 1990, marking a turning point in the history of America.
Most of individuals currently in their forties or above knew forests or farmland by the suburban rim. They additionally had farm-family relatives. Most likely they had older relatives or grandparents who had recently come from farm-country or who farmed even if they stayed in the city. In contrast present young generation, that cultural and familial connection to the farming is fading, marking the frontier’s end. According to Louv, in the third frontier, Americans are electronically disconnected from nature. They no longer idealize nature because it is no longer important to American experience.
As result, a new culture has emerged that further disconnects young Americans from nature. The new culture, as Louv points out first of all has: “constrained access to nature. Kids are no longer playing in abandoned lots as neighbors complain” (Caroline, 2006). Open space is decreasing and public lands disappearing as a result of overzealous development. Additionally, erections of outdoor play facilities like tree- houses are being restricted by housing development.
Individuals also fear nature today as parents are keen to always know the whereabouts of their children. “Good” parents have denied their children permission to rove around alone down by the swimming hole or woods for that they may get bitten by a snake or get lost. National parks have become breeding grounds for murders and kidnappers.
Caroline (2006) adds that another aspect of the new culture is that it has further detached children from nature. An essential response as a result of damage brought about by humans,” environmentalism creates public awareness concerning ecological destruction and animal activists depress hunting and fishing.” Even though Louv concurs with environmentalism, and he does fishing but not hunting, he recognizes that animal rights and environmental activists have amplified children’s awareness of the nature’s fragility, making them feel further distanced from and scared by it.
Louv also points out that today, playtime is structured. The significance of career and academic success is stressed at a very early age. “Heavy load of homework, parent-organized “play dates”, structured learning activities, and team sports have replaced unstructured play. Parents are against such undertakings like “goofing off” as they ensure that their kids are too busy look up the clouds while lying on the grass” (Caroline, 2006).
The new culture has also made electronics pervasive. The child’s meaning of boring and interesting have been altered by video game, television and internet. These among other forms of modern entertainment as opposed to encouraging physical and mental activity, it encourages passivity.
Finally Louv identifies the emphasis of technology-based educational modes as another characteristic of the new culture. The present’s curriculum principles focus on basics like math, writing and reading, frequently leaving classrooms without nature. In most cases, the fame of technical disciplines has amplified while sidelining traditional natural sciences (Gordon, 2010).
Regardless of this dismal analysis, The Last Child in the Woods closes on a rather encouraging note. Louv illustrates attempts to mend the damage brought about expressing that activities such as community and local nature programs can greatly aid in re-uniting children with nature; nature-based teacher training programs and teaching curricula initiated by bodies like the Orion Society and National Wildlife Federation; “green urbanization,” a movement for community planning that campaigns for urban landscape re-inventing to incorporate nature in every day lives of residents; and home-school based practical learning and by programs like Foxfire Approach to Teaching and learning (Louv, 2005).
Additionally, Louv fronts a number of suggestions that aid in re-connecting children with nature. First of all he suggests that parents should cultivate constructive boredom by spending more time their children and disconnecting electronic attachments. Parents should however try to strike the right balance for their children between killing creativity and offering direction as bored children frequently land into trouble.
Gordo (2010) points out that parents should also promote respect of nature by training children to be hyperaware within the nature devoid of being hypervigilant. They should ensure that they spend time together in nature to assist them gain knowledge of taking controlled risks, decrease their fear of unknown, and develop their confidence.
Another suggestion that Louv offers for parents is to handle “stranger-danger” constructively. Louv admits that is hard for parents, him included, to handle the fear of their children being harmed by strangers. He also appreciates the lack of nay tangible solutions, but he quick to state that going past the “stranger-danger’s” hysteria is vital for the emerging self-confidence and self-esteem of the child (Caroline, 2006).
Louv (2005) adds that re-connecting with nature and wildlife is another potential step made tha parents can take. He suggests that parents have to take their kids to local parks to hike and play, and look at local conservations region with them. Activities like birding, viewing wildlife and nature journaling have to be introduced to children by parents to make the children become extra observant. In addition to this, parents could enroll their children to aid in a backyard garden, take the children on a local farm visit and participate in a community garden.
To sum the whole discussion about the last The Last Child in the Wild, Louv such initial nature encounters are necessary if we are to bring into being the change agents and creative thinkers of tomorrow. His point could be well proved when he asked Mathew, his teenage son, to search for biographies of “the famously creative”. “The list entailed such personality like: Arthur C. Clarke, the futuristic and science fiction author whose promising cosmic consciousness was aroused by early days bicycle rides under the glittery skies, Cesar Chavez who was inspired by the Arizona’s Gila River’s waters, sol and land, Jane Goodall, Thomas Edison among others who partly became who they are due interacting with nature” (Louv, 2005).
Louv is such an inspirational author who strives to advocate for children-nature interaction through personal reminisces and stories. He does this while at the same time passing across serious information to ensure that parents not only stop confining their children to play within their compound but also make them get involved in active advocacy for the environment.
Louv, R. (2005). Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder: New York: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill.
Caroline, N. (2006). Last Child in theWoods Retrieved 4, Nov. 2010 from http://earthfriendlygardening.wordpress.com/2006/03/08/book-review-last-child-in-the-woods/
Gordon, D. (2010).A review of Richard Louv’s “Last Child in the Wood”. Retrieved 4, Nov. 2010 from http://www.hookedonnature.org/lastchild.html
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