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Reflections on Children’s Experience of Nature

Reflections on Children’s Experience of Nature

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C&NN Leadership WritiNg series VoLUme oNe: NUmBeR 2

Reflections on Children’s Experience of Nature
STepHeN R. KeLLeRT, pH.D.
professor, Yale University, School of Forestry and environmental Studies executive Chairman, Bio-Logical Capital
pHoTo: joN BeaRD

I want to address aspects of the importance of children’s experiential connection with the natural world and what I believe must occur, from a psychological and policy perspective, to remedy what constitutes a profound threat to our future. Fo
C&NN Leadership WritiNg series VoLUme oNe: NUmBeR 2

Reflections on Children’s Experience of Nature
STepHeN R. KeLLeRT, pH.D.
professor, Yale University, School of Forestry and environmental Studies executive Chairman, Bio-Logical Capital
pHoTo: joN BeaRD

I want to address aspects of the importance of children’s experiential connection with the natural world and what I believe must occur, from a psychological and policy perspective, to remedy what constitutes a profound threat to our future. Fo

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Published by: Children & Nature Network Resource Library on May 04, 2011
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05/12/2014

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I wnt t ddrss scts  th irtnc  childrn’s xrintil cnnctin with th nturl wrld nd wht I blivust ccur, r  sychlgicl nd licy rsctiv, t rdy wht cnstituts  rund thrt t ur utur. Fr whtis bing ddrssd hr is nt ust n nity bnt r childrn, n tinl rtunity r ging utsid, nying ndlrning but ntur,  ns  string  cnsrvtin thic r n ttitud  gd stwrdshi, r  wy t ncurgxrcis r r ur ntin’s nturl hritg. Fr r, w r ctully cnsidring th utur  ur scis.Th inring sychitrist, Hrld Srls (1960:27), suggstd  hl cntury g tht: “Th nn-hun nvirnnt,r r bing  littl r n ccunt t hun rsnlity dvlnt, cnstituts n  th st bsiclly irtntingrdints  hun sychlgicl xistnc.” Sinc thn, thry nd vidnc hv rgd t surt th ntintht huns ssss  bilgicl nd t lit with nturl systs nd rcsss, rticulrly during th irtntrtiv childhd yrs, nd this rltinshi is criticl t childrn’s hlth, rductivity, hysicl nd ntl wll bing(Kllrt nd Wilsn 1993, Kllrt 2005, Luv 2008, Childrn nd Ntur Ntwrk 2009).
Reflections on Children’sExperience of Nature
STepHeN R. KeLLeRT, pH.D.
prssr, Yl Univrsity, Schl  Frstry ndenvirnntl Studisexcutiv Chirn, Bi-Lgicl Citl
C&NN Leadership WritiNg series
VoLUme oNe: NUmBeR 2
pHoTo: joN BeaRD
 
© Children & Nature Network | www.childrenandnature.orgReflections on Children’s Experience of Nature
2
Yt, thr rs nly rginl rcitin  th signicnc  this hun-child rltinshi. Th rviling rdig th drn urbn wrld instd ndrss th ssutin tht th sur  rgrss nd civiliztin is ur distncr nd vn trnscndnc  th nturl wrld. W hv bc incrsingly blind t th rlity tht ur scis, likll scis, vlvd in  bilgicl – nt n rticil, nginrd, r chin dintd – cntxt, nd tht cnsquntlyur hysicl, tinl nd intllctul tnss cntinus t rly n  vst trix  cnnctins t nturl systs ndrcsss, rticulrly during childhd. Th hun ind nd bdy gnticlly rgd in  bicntric wrld, ndth srs dt vilbl suggsts ur st chrishd ccitis – hysicl hlth, tinl ttchnt, sl cnct,rsnl idntity, criticl thinking, rbl slving, curisity, igintin, vn cultur – dnds in yrid irrlcblwys n ur xrinc  ntur, gin rticulrly during th rtiv yrs  childhd. our rgrss nd civiliztincnnt b surd by th dlusinl ssutin tht w shw scd ur bilgy nd rltd dndnc nntur. much  wht ks us ully nd unctinlly hun cntinus t b cntingnt n  rich tstry  xrintiltis t th nturl wrld whthr w chs t liv  th lnd r bc urbn invstnt bnkrs. Dsit urrrkbl ccity r lrning, individulity, cultur nd crtivity,w rin bund lik ll crturs by th cnstrints  ur bilgy.and, lik ny scis, vn n uniquly cbl  li-lnglrning, th grtst turtinl dvlnt  ths bsicbilgicl dndncis is during th childhd yrs.This xtrrdinry rtiv infunc  ntur in childrn’s hlthnd dvlnt undrscrs this cnnctin is nt ust  ttr hysicl tnss nd intllctul ccity, but s wll tinlccity, idntity, bsic vlus, nd vn ur rl nd siritulcnditin. Th wll srings  hun tivtin, th rigins ur tnss nd survivl, vlutinrily rgd r ur inhrntinclintin t lit with th nturl wrld, wht cllgus ndI hv lbld, “bihili” (Wilsn 1984, Kllrt nd Wilsn 1993,Kllrt 1997, 2005). a child’s til dvlnt, th rgnc  scur nd sitiv idntity, th bility t think criticlly ndrslv rbls, th rtin  sl-cndnc nd sl-st,nd vn hlth nd turtin rly n bncil intrctins withth nturl wrld.
pHoTo: BRoTHeR YUSUF
 
© Children & Nature Network | www.childrenandnature.orgReflections on Children’s Experience of Nature
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This rltinshi t nvirnntl systs nd rcsss ust ccur t h, t schl, thrugh rsnl xrincnd lc-bsd lrning. Childrn nd t xrinc ntur in dirct, indirct, nd rrsnttinl wys s n intgrlrt  thir vrydy livs. W ust, thrr, drt r th ntin  ntur s  lc t visit in  rk r  rst,squstrd nd rt r  child’s nrl xistnc. W ust disl th ntin tht rlly structurd r inrllyrgnizd rgrs, whthr t schl r in th rst, r th nly ntidts r th incrsing discnnct  childrnr th nturl wrld. W nd t rcit tht childrn rquir s wll unstructurd, unditd, vn risk rnrtunitis r r, sntnus, nd rquntly unsurvisd cntct with th nturl wrld in th cntxt  vrydyli. W nd t rcgniz tht rstring childrn’s cntct with ntur is nt ust but nhncd intllctul undrstndingnd surt r cnsrvtin, but ls but th chnc t xrinc  sns  wndr, y, xubrnc, w, vn rnd tridtin, ll nd r, th rw stu  nrl nd hlthy dvlnt. W ls nd t rliz tht cntct withntur is nt ust but dirct hysicl cntct in th utdrs nd with living systs, but s wll th rrsnttinlnd syblic xrssin  th sh nd ttrn  th nturl wrld rvld in stry, ictur, yth, lgnd, nd r.Bcus childrn’s xrinc  ntur rins  vitl nd irrlcbl surc  hlthy dvlnt, nthing lssthn th utur  ur scis is t stk in intining nd, whn crisd, rstring this rltinshi. This nd isscilly rnuncd tdy whn vrius indictrs suggst  rund ivrishnt in th qulity nd quntity childrn’s xrinc  nturl rcss nd divrsity with childrn rvling s  cnsqunc lring incrss inrts  bsity, chrnic illnss, ttntin dcit disrdr, nd thr hysicl nd ntl ldis. Th crisis  dlydiinishd cnnctins btwn childrn nd th bilgicl bsis  ur hunity is t grt r us t rin ssiv.Th scl nd sc  th rbl clls r bld sts nd  dr undrstnding  wht is t stk.
Because children’s experience of nature remains a vital and irreplaceablesource of healthy development, nothing less than the future of our species is at stake in maintaining and, when compromised, restoring this relationship.
pHoTo: joN BeaRD

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