Posts Tagged ‘education’

Great article in the San Francisco Chronicle, today. ‘Nature Deficit Disorderdiscusses young people’s growing alienation from nature. After reading it, I sat wondering, and very concerned. The article hits close to home. Our children spend hardly any time in nature, although we live minutes from great hiking trails, and only 30′ from the beach, and two hours from the mountains. Shopping, driving to each other’s houses, hanging out, and staring at the computer, have become their way of life. It is not for a lack of an example on our part. Prad and I go for long walks every day. I hike up the trail behind our house. We go to the beach. No, the problem is not there, but rather in a combination of cultural and environmental factors. The article lists five possible factors:

  1. Urbanization: 80% of the U.S. population lives in urban areas, where opportunities to connect with nature are much less.
  2. Virtualization: children 8 to 18 spend an average of 61/2 hours a day with electronic media, either on the computer, in front of the TV, playing video games, or on the phone talking or texting.
  3. Parental fears of letting their children loose in nature: fears fed by sensationalistic reporting of rare occurences.
  4. Overbooked schedules, with heightened pressure to take AP classes and enter prestigious colleges.
  5. Lack of opportunities to connect with nature, in children from lower socio-economic background.

My most favorite childhood memories are of the times I spent in nature. Playing hide and seek in the wheat field near my parents’ house. Summers at my grandparents’ farm. Making necklaces out of grass. Picking up mushrooms in the woods. Eight year old, maybe, and biking alone, along empty roads in the midst of the country, savoring my freedom. With friends, trying to catch fishes with a fork, in the stream outside our village. Picking up red poppies, and making a bouquet for my mother. My first discovery of the beach, I was twelve. Hiking in the French alps. Rolling down the meadows. Looking for snails after the rain. Picking up grapes in my grandfather’s vineyards. Afternoon spent in the fields watching the goats graze, some baguette with butter and pear as my reward. The smell of rain. It all felt so good.

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We all love tips

Americans are suckers for tips, and lets face it, I am too. I can’t resist the daily AOL teasers, like the one I read yesterday, about ’10 Ways to Improve your Marriage’. I had to click, and read the whole article from tip 1 to tip 10. One click for each new tip. That’s a lot of time spent on one article. Today, I can’t tell you what it said, but I remember nodding with appreciation, as I read it. My point is that people love tips, but do they really use them? Skelliewag, and Daily Blog Tips, the two must read blogs for all serious bloggers, are both big fans of ‘numbered headlines’. If I want to be a successful blogger, I need to give readers numbered lists of practical recommendations they can hang on to.

Do green tips work?

I should have numbered headlines? Part of me resist the idea. I am French after all, and we French have a natural aversion for anything too simplistic. For us, articles with numbers in their headline just lack finesse. Nothing in life is that simple that it can be reduced to a rounded number of recommendations. That’s one thing. If it’s going to work however, I can put my feelings aside, and join the rest of the blogging crowd. The more important question is, in the area of green education, do tips really work? What do people do with them? And do they really use them?

The need for an extraordinary teacher

There are hundreds of sites, literally, that dispense green advice of some sort. The ones I am most aware of, are TreeHugger, World Changing, and The Daily Green. There is also Laurie David’s list. Once in a while, I go and visit. I revisit, and I am struck most by what I do with the information. I do nothing with it. Am I not using the stuff, because I lack the motivation to apply it, to begin with? Or is green an altogether different beast? Or are these sites going at it the wrong way? My first thought is that going green, is kind of like trying to do homework in one’s least favorite subject. What’s needed is an extraordinary teacher, to transform the green learning experience. Al Gore started the process. He got us convinced, that green is a worthy subject matter. Next is the less obvious challenge of answering the how’s, and of getting people to do their homework. Green tips are just a collection of loose pages from a yet to be assembled green textbook. A textbook only as good as the teacher.

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