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 How Important is Kids' Experience of Nature?
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marfknox
SFN Die Hard

USA
3739 Posts

Posted - 11/22/2011 :  22:49:01  Show Profile  Visit marfknox's Homepage  Send marfknox an AOL message Send marfknox a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I'm putting this in general skepticism because it relates mainly to both health (physical fitness in particular) and science education.

Just wrote on my Humanist Mom blog Great Outdoors Vital to Children's Health and Education This article basically came out of me reading a bunch of articles here and there and hearing a lot of people talk about the benefits of being in nature to kids, but never giving any solid or evidence-based reasons why experiences in nature are so important. I would appreciate all comments, including criticisms, as well as info on more studies relevant to these questions.

"Too much certainty and clarity could lead to cruel intolerance" -Karen Armstrong

Check out my art store: http://www.marfknox.etsy.com

Tim Thompson
New Member

USA
36 Posts

Posted - 11/26/2011 :  11:20:35   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Tim Thompson's Homepage Send Tim Thompson a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I can't reference objective studies, since this is an area I really don't know. However, I will simply comment especially on the discussion around this:

From the blog ...
Others are raising concerns that an increasing disconnect with nature leaves serious gaps in children's education that might diminish their ability to understand many concepts in science and environmental concerns ... It is one thing to know something in theory. It is another to have experienced it.


It's not so much the idea of physical exercise that attracts my attention, though exercise is obviously a good thing, but rather the simple awareness of the world at large. As an anecdotal tale of my own, while taking part in a public "star party" on the grounds at Griffith Observatory (G.O.), before the renovation construction began, I encountered a 23 year old resident of south-central Los Angeles. That day's trip to G.O. was the farthest he had ever been from home. He had, in all his 23 years, essentially never left downtown Los Angeles; he had no concept of "dark", had never seen "trees", never encountered "wild animals". He was awe-struck by the experience, really overwhelmed by the combination of "dark" and "green". It amounts to a kind of parochialism where people who never leave home, be it an urban or rural home, will not appreciate the amazing variety the world at large has to offer. This certainly has an effect on understanding environmental issues, which will be a bigger deal as time goes by. But perhaps equally important is the elusive affect of experience on the development of personality. And in the case of young children, it's not just personality, but the physical development of the "wiring" in the growing brain. More complicated "wiring" enhances the ability to deal with more complicated issues. So if one combines a lack of stimulating experience with a lack of proper nutrition (which also shows up more in urban environments) one gets physically simpler brains that are simply less capable in the long run. So I would say, with some combination of subjective & objective reasoning that experiencing the outdoors has tangible benefits for both brain & personality development.

The point of philosophy is to start with something so simple as not to seem worth stating, and to end with something so paradoxical that no one will believe it. -- Bertrand Russell
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marfknox
SFN Die Hard

USA
3739 Posts

Posted - 11/26/2011 :  14:00:28   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit marfknox's Homepage  Send marfknox an AOL message Send marfknox a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I can say that my love and interest in science were greatly enriched by trips to observatories, natural history museums, and walks and camping in nature. Here in Philly we are lucky to have the Wagner Free Institute for Science, an institution where the displays, library, and auditorium are preserved in their late 1800's form, so walking into the place is like taking a trip back in time to the aftermath of the Age of Enlightenment in the United States. And seeing first hand the similarities and differences in how knowledge of the natural world was organized and displayed in comparison to today is a powerful and immediate lesson in the nature of how science, as done by fallible humans, functions in real-life practice.

"Too much certainty and clarity could lead to cruel intolerance" -Karen Armstrong

Check out my art store: http://www.marfknox.etsy.com

Edited by - marfknox on 11/26/2011 14:01:04
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ericjacke
Spammer

2 Posts

Posted - 12/22/2011 :  20:53:18   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send ericjacke a Private Message  Reply with Quote
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chefcrsh
Skeptic Friend

Hong Kong
380 Posts

Posted - 12/22/2011 :  22:23:47   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send chefcrsh a Private Message  Reply with Quote
If we use nature in anything broader than naturailstic fallacy terms, it is unavoidable.
Edited by - chefcrsh on 12/22/2011 22:24:53
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