Thursday, March 22, 2007

What makes you care about nature and our environment?



A bookclub ,
started online to commemorate the 100 aniversary of Rachel Carson's birth, has posed a couple of questions that are of interest.

First question...Rachel who?
It seemed strange to me that a person that writes and speaks of Rachel Carson would meet so many people that did not really know about Rachel Carson's work. Her question was why so many seemed to know so little.
So what do people know about Rachel Carson? I guess that is a question I will be asking in the days ahead. How about you? Do you remember Silent Spring?


Second question...How does one’s first consciousness of nature abide, and what difference did it make in Carson’s ability to observe and to see the "contamination of nature," and to try to "do something about it?"

Rachel Carson grew up near the Allegheny River which went from fishing country to industrial country with all its pollutions . A brilliant woman that became a scientist and an ardent ecologist, we wonder,did watching these changes and the acceptance of the industries [ by local people whose income and lifestyle depended on said industry] that were the major cause of the contamination, develope an awareness that demanded action?

I do not know the answers. Certainly one would hope that getting to know the wonders of nature at a young age would develope an affection for the places where fond memories are formed. With maturity and knowledge these places of nature would become important to preserve so that these qualities in the land are not lost. At least this is the theory.
But what about urban children with little experience of wildlife or green and growing places?
Can an adult suddenly awed by a new experience develope the same caring activism?

What does this mean to our children and their care?

The following statements are made at the Child care exchange ...

In an excellent summary of the three day Working Forum on Nature Education for Young Children, which took place at the Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska late in October, Dana Friedman shares these reasons why early childhood educators should be promoting nature education...

By exposing children to nature, we're giving them a gift of a faithful, life-long friend.
It provides life-changing, shaping memories.
It offers a sense of peace and reconnecting to nature.
Nature has a therapeutic quality — it is calming.
The natural world supports the development of caring, pro-social behavior.
How we relate to nature gives us lessons about how we relate to each other.
It can serve as a force for change, for peace.
It fosters self-regulation and learning.
Nature develops understanding of oneself.
It brings out the best in children.
Nature helps children with disabilities, particularly those with sensory integration deficit.
Children's pretend play outdoors in natural settings tends to be more complex/therapeutic than indoors.
Play and interaction with the natural environment and materials helps develop cognitive, social, and emotional skills.
Nature is crucial for total development of the whole child, regardless of stage, ability, or problem.


I'm not sure if all of this is true. I am sure that being outdoors, in a place where plants and natures other living beings are in abundance can be a very good thing. The Mr and I make sure the children in our lives help to grow food for ourselves and the wildlife in our very urban setting. We take them camping, hiking and to local conservatories, parks and nature preserves.
Even if all the above proves unreliable it its effect on the futures of our young, all our lives have been enriched by these outdoor adventures.

More ...

NatureAndTheLifeCourse.pdf

Without nature
EJ Magazine is one of the only student-produced magazine about
environmental issues in the country and is published by the Knight Center
for Environmental Journalism at Michigan State University.

2 Comments:

Blogger firefly said...

I know of Rachel Carson from reading others' writings but I've never read "Silent Spring." I should, but I think much of her work has been assimilated and built on so that it no longer stands alone.

I came to my awareness in a roundabout way: started working for an environmental engineering firm as a typist when Superfund cleanups were going on, and I read a lot of what I had to type. That made me realize, belatedly, that work my father had participated in as a chemist for a plastics company was partly responsible for the mess. My mother still has copies of patents my father initiated for synthetic pesticides.

He of course knew the dangers so we were never allowed to chase DDT trucks with the neighborhood kids. What a drag! We stayed indoors with the windows shut. And now I know what a favor he did, not just by restricting that kind of contact, but by instilling a sense of distrust for corporate claims and FDA regulations. I wasn't allowed to use stuff like Oxy10 because it had originally been classified as a carcinogen.

Living in a rural area for 7 years influences me now, but back then I took it for granted, and all I wanted to do was get out. Judging by the way the kids in my neighborhood utterly ignore "nature" I'm not so sure that, outside of a teaching environment, it has much of an impact on them unless their parents are careful to make it interesting.

22/3/07 4:49 PM  
Blogger Gloria said...

firefly, I read Silent Spring by Rachel Carson. But not until years after it was written and Carson herself had died. I am currently reading Lost Woods: The Discovered Writings of Rachel Carson. Papers speeches, letters, that sort of thing.
She said aloud what many scientists of her time must have been thinking.People responded to her words. Why? They knew something was wrong.
Just like with global warming and our human crowding of the planet.
We know... no matter how some try to convince themselves that nothing an individual does can matter so we may as well go on as always.Everyone knows somethings got to give...most are gambling on it not being soon.

27/3/07 12:38 AM  

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