Thursday, January 26, 2012
The Touch of Nature............
Look deep into nature and then you will understand everything better.
"Children must go out in Nature", says the Danish brain scientist and physician Kjeld Fredens. He is not wrapping up his message when he's talking about the consequences of that children of today so obviously rarely go out and feel nature at first hand.
According to a new survey children of today go out in nature only half as much as their grandparents when they were children. Compared with today's children nature was far more used as an everyday pastime or playground when the generation of grandparents were children. Back then children often moved about on their own.
Kjeld Fredens says that the children's senses are being under stimulated - the creativity in the right brain hemisphere is only rarely awaken and the learning has got difficult conditions.
"If we are alienated to nature we lose it and therefore we lose ourselves. " But when the children are out in nature they sense the shades in the autumn forest, they listen to the richness of bird species or to the silence, they feel the rough and wet bark, when they climb the trees and they notice and smell the moist earth after rain. Children are learning through experience, action and understanding. Nature promotes children's curiosity because it constantly amazes them.
" Without sensuality we lose the closeness with our environments", Kjeld Fredens says and continues. "When we are indoors or walk in a city, everything we see are of linear structures. This stimulates only the left brain hemisphere, where our analytical abilities are - and then we get too focused on details and not on the wholeness. We'll be easy to manipulate, and we'll have a large need of being in control. In nature we are part of a large whole, and it is important to the children to be aware of this and to be humble towards it".
Kjeld Fredens is worried about how much children are occupied by fx mobiles and computer games. He calls it focused attention. This constant focus is burning off glucose in the brain so the child gets tired and uneasy. The nature in all its unpredictability calls upon the open or involuntary attention of the children, and this is the place where they should go out to recharge their batteries and relax.
New survey: Through the latest years four big Danish hospitals have experienced an increase of between 10 and 30 % in the number of children who were so sick of stress that they had to be hospitalized.
"Last Child in the Woods".
Richard Louv, an American author and journalist, published in 2005 a book "Last Child in the Woods". He says among many things that parents of today overlook that children's play in nature is vital to their mental and intellectual development. He tells them that if they want their children to go to Harvard University one day, then they'll have to send them out in nature now. He links the deficit of nature in today's children to something like the obesity epidemic, behavioral disorders and depression. Richard Louv is not against the technology. He wants to promote a larger balance and a new environmental movement. The more technology we are surrounded by, the more we need a destressing nature. We'll have to use our creativity to create still more nature, a still better world, which increases our Quality of life . "Someone says we'll have to go back to nature," says Richard Louv. "Instead we'll have to go ahead with nature".
More Nature for more Children.
A leader of Dansk Naturfrednings school service, Ole Laursen, is working professionally with creating and inspiring nature experiences for children and adults. He points to the importance of nature coming to the children, since the study shows that few children are going out in nature. First of all the parents, the teachers, the educators, the politicans and the grandparents must start realizing that nature is the basis of our lives.
If it is difficult to go come out in nature, then nature must be invited closer to us - and the everyday nature in gardens, parks and around schools and institutions must be utilized. The parents have often got a lack of time, this can be a problem, says Ole Laursen. But it might partly be solved by watching less TV or making less updates to Facebook. Something has to be deselected in order to give the children the best childhood and at the same time help nature in the long run. It is not possible to abolish TV and computer games, but it is possible in between to give the children a free space in nature, where they are disconnected from the world , where they enjoy peace for thought, motion and to use all their senses.
If the parents watch too much out for the children and if they make too many schedules, then they remove the children's possibility of meeting the challenges themselves and in this way develope their self confidence. Ole Laursen suggests that there might be a way in which the mobile or the GPS could give the children a possibility to be in places, where the parents else won't allow them to be for a short or longer time.
Source: Theme: Children in Nature, by Maria Lykke Andersen, Natur og Miljø, nr. 6, December 2011, Danmarks Naturfredningsforening.
photos, children: grethe bachmann