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Ecology of Hope

Ecology of Hope

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Published by: Children & Nature Network Resource Library on May 11, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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May/June 2008
21 I
K–8 S
INSIDEThe Ecologyof Hope
Cheryl Charles 
Culture Clash
 Jen Manwell
5ConfrontingNature DeficitDisorder in the21st Century
 David Woodand Margaret  Pennock
8Opening Mindsthrough LearningOutdoors
Wendy Oellers 
12LiteratureLinks 16ResourceReviews 18Picture-PerfectLearning
 Bob Coulter 
20Happy Trails
 Diane Brambleand Lois Sandusky
22The Child’sGarden—Outdoors 26
 Ed Press Awards for 
1990, 1992 Distinguished Achievement Awards1996 Winner: Honor Award for Excellence in Educational Publishing
Heather Taylor
Susan Hathaway
Design and Production:
Judy Wingerter
Executive Director:
Casey Murrow
(ISSN: 1041-682X) is published five times per year, September,November, January, March, and May, by Synergy Learning International,Inc., PO Box 60, Brattleboro, VT 05302. Tel. 800-769-6199, Fax 802-254-5233, e-mail connect@synergylearning.org.©2008 by Synergy Learning International, Inc. Published as a non-profitservice. All rights reserved. Special permission is required to reproduce inany manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein.Call 800-769-6199 for reprint permission information.Periodical postage paid at Brattleboro, VT 05301 and additional mailingoffices. (USPS 005-389).POSTMASTER: Send address changes to
, PO Box 60, Brattle-boro, VT 05302-0060.
How to subscribe (print version):
send $28.00 for a one year subscrip-tion ($35.00 Canada/Mexico, $49.00 other foreign, in U.S. funds). Volumediscounts are $24.00 each for five or more subscriptions sent to the sameaddress. Back issues are $6.00 each, ten or more issues $4.00 each postpaid.Mail to Synergy Learning, Inc., PO Box 60, Brattleboro, VT 05302-0060.Or call 800-769-6199.
How to subscribe (PDF version):
Send $20.00 and your e-mail addressfor the PDF version, available worldwide at this price. Same content andillustrations. E-mail us for details on our annual site license, allowing youto distribute
to others in your school or district.For more articles and focus topics, see the
archive on our Web site:
Springfield Printing Corporation
Synergy Learning International, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation, engaged in publishing and professional developmentfor educators, pre-K to middle school. We are dedicated to supporting schools, teachers, and families with challenging science, math,and technology learning for children
is printed on Chorus Art paper, 50% recycled(25% post-consumer); manufactured acid and elementalchlorine free.
Photo Credits:
Cover (boy with net), inside cover, pp. 1, 3, Chad Tussing; cover, pp. 5, 6, 7, Jen Manwell; pp. 8, 10, 11, Margaret Pennock; pp. 12,13, 14, Wendy Oellers; pp. 20, 21, Bob Coulter; pp. 22, 24, 23, 25, Diane Bramble and Lois Sandusky; p. 26, parents of the Green Valley School,Westminster, VT.
 published by
is published five times per year (bi-monthly through the school year) and offers a wide range of practical, teacher-written articles.Each issue is thematic and supports hands-on learning, problem solving, and multidisciplinary approaches.
Go Outside!
 he outdoor world presents infinite and indispensable learning opportunities. In this issue we learn about thestrong case for taking students outside and doing ourpart to reunite children with nature.Today’s children have less unsupervised andunscheduled time than in prior generations. How doesthis affect their understanding of systems like weather,or ideas that all life is interrelated, or their connectionto a sense of place? Will this have profound impacts onthe decisions and priorities that students will make infuture years?Teachers in both public and independent schools tellstories in these pages that offer examples of addressingcurricula while in the great outdoors. Here are ideas forfostering curiosity, fondness, and appreciation for theworld outside and our place in it. With our help, per- haps more students can embrace their role as stewardsto sustain the world and its resources.Although these sound like lofty ideals, they are not so difficult to achieve—it all starts by simply going out-side!
www.synergylearning.org • MAY/JUNE 2008
The Ecology of Hope
Reconnecting Children and Nature
by Cheryl Charles 
cology is a term my grandfather, PerlCharles, taught me. He was born in1899, the oldest of four children of Bulaand Tom Charles, who settled in NewMexico in 1907. Grandad was a lifelongconservationist, as were many in the fam-ily. He was also a teacher and storyteller.Humorous and wise, he epitomized com-mon sense. He taught me that all parts of any environment, living and non-living,exist in relationship to one another. Themost inspiring and effective teachers arethose who labor with love and respect tocreate an ecology of hope every day in thelives of their students—in both formal andinformal settings.For many reasons, I believe that we needto demonstrate the positive power of theecology of hope. This is especially impor-tant for those who touch the lives of chil-dren and teens throughout their schoolingyears. We can make conscious choices andcultivate a sense of efficacy in ourselvesand others. The belief that we can make apositive difference is at the heart of hope.We can make life better for children, andourselves, by opening the door to the firstclassroom: the natural world, from back-yards to neighborhoods, schoolyards, andpublic places.We can inspire in children a belief thatthe world can be a better place, that thepresent can be nourishing, and the future atime of fulfillment. We can go a long waytoward achieving that goal by reconnect-ing children and nature—beginning wherechildren spend most of their daylight hoursduring many weeks—in their schools.
Beyond the cocoon
Let’s start with the current baseline. Mostchildren and youth today have limiteddirect experience with the outdoors. If they are outdoors, the experience is morelikely to be in organized sports and onplayground equipment,often on asphalt play-grounds. There are excep-tions, but, on the whole,the defining experiencesof today’s youth and chil-dren are indoors, at homeor in school, or in a car.Shuttled from school tochurch to soccer to danceclass to day camp, most of our children are—with allgood intentions—beinggiven a virtual, vicarious,electronic, passive, andcocooned experience of childhood. Or, they are leftalone, under what authorRichard Louv calls “vir-tual house arrest”—lefton their own for hours andhours at a time, hooked into what I call theelectronic umbilica of today’s contempo-rary lifestyles.I am not at all anti-technology. However,the current lifestyles and learning environ-ments for most children and youth todayare out of balance, with a disproportionateamount of time spent out of sunlight andfacing electronic screenlights from com-puters, televisions, cell phones, and more.Richard Louv wrote a best-selling book,published initially in 2005 and re-releasedin an updated edition in 2008. Its popu-larity is good news for all of us who careabout children’s health and well-being.The book title is
 Last Child in the Woods:Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit  Disorder 
. In 2006, I joined Richard Louvand others to co-found the Children &Nature Network,http://www.cnaturenet.org,a non-profit organization with the mis-sion of building a movement to reconnectchildren and nature. Schools—students,teachers, and the families and communi-ties they serve—are important parts of thatmission.
 Adults can make adifference in the lives of children by opening thedoor to the first classroom:nature.

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