The Loss of Nature in Our Children’s Education
Nature is not an education tool in our classrooms or in our society today. Our children today no longer have the natural bond that generations before have had with Nature. They are not encouraged nor rewarded for exploration in the natural world around them. Even when they do study nature they do so at arms length, studied in far off places and quite often it is portrayed in a tragic light and can even evoke fear. This lose of nature in our classroom has led to both physical and psychological ramifications that effect our children’s overall learning experience. Ultimately, this loss leads to a loss of the value of nature and will have am impact on future generations.
The lives of children today are much different. Children today have few opportunities for free play and regular contact with the natural world. Their physical boundaries have shrunk due to a number of factors. A culture of fear has parents afraid for their children's safety. Due to this fear, many children are no longer free to roam their neighborhoods or even their own yards unless accompanied by adults. The culture of childhood that played outside is gone and children's everyday life has shifted to the indoors. As a result, children's opportunity for direct and spontaneous contact with nature is a vanishing experience of childhood. One researcher has gone so far as to refer to this sudden shift in children's lives and their loss of free play in the outdoors as a 'childhood of imprisonment' (Francis 1991). Childhood and regular play in the natural world is no longer synonymous. Kellert (2002) says society today has become "so estranged from its natural origins, it has failed to recognize our species' basic dependence on nature as a condition of growth and development." Not only have children's play environments dramatically changed in the last few decades, but also the time they have to play has...