I have just finished reading ‘Last Child in the Woods: saving our children from nature deficit disorder’ and there is so much in there that I underlined and tagged. Including these two passages…
Some parents see another connection–between positive nature-risk and openness to beauty. In New Hampshire, David Sobel consciously uses nature to teach his daughter safety. He calls it “assessing ice”:
This experience is a rite of passage. I am trying to teach her the process of assessing thin ice, literally and metaphorically. We go out on the ice together and assess the structural integrity of the ice: what’s risky and fun, and what’s too risky. Through these experiences, I help her begin to be able to assess situations. Whether this began consciously or intentionally on my part, that’s the effect. Crossing the ice, I teach her to read cracks, the ways of figuring out ice thickness and texture, to see the places where there is current–this is where the ice is thick; this is where it is thin. I teach her how you must spread out when you have to cross really thin ice, to carry a stick with you, all of these intentional ways of assessing risk on the ice and being prepared.
… He believes that the kinesthetic original experience of risk-taking in the natural world is closer to the natural organic way we’ve learned for millennia, and that the other experiences don’t reach as deeply. Listening to him, I wondered about this unnamed intensity of learning and hyperawareness that we detect in nature, but cannot prove. Is this quality, perhaps, linked simply to beauty, to those natural shapes and musical sounds that draw our souls to nature?
…He is determined that his daughter not suffer from this distance [from nature], that she find nature, that she walk in beauty, and that she understand the ice. Though self-confidence and awareness can come from experiencing nature, the generations do not go to nature to find safety or justice. They go to find beauty. Quite simply, when we deny our children nature, we deny them beauty. p. 185-6
In a similar vein, another beautiful piece…
As we headed out to sea, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. spoke passionately for the reconnection of children to nature. “We’re a part of nature, and ultimately we’re predatory animals and we have a role in nature,” he said, “and if we separate ourselves from that, we’re separating ourselves from our history, from the things that tie us together. We don’t want to live in a world where there are no recreational fishermen, where we have lost touch with the seasons, the tides, the things that connect us–to ten thousand generations of human beings that were here before there were laptops, and ultimately connect us to God.” p. 198