Saturday, June 18, 2005

Nature Deficit Disorder

J ran in the yard, garden and beyond with other children when she started to walk - but that was in India. The domestic help and her sizeable family lived in the outhouse of our rambling old bungalow, all of the neighbors had been around for decades. There were enough eyes on her all the time. No one was worried about her getting the Nature Deficit Disorder

Ms W and Ms K keep a vigilant eye on all the children at J's daycare. There is a security system in place and the tot-lot is covered with mulch as opposed to natural greenery. J gathered flowers in the morning with my mother, walking barefoot through dewy grass, knowing to side-step ant-hills like the grown-ups had taught her to. If she had stayed longer she would have known flowers and plants by name, shape, texture and smell just like I had.

J is now scared to walk down the stony path through the woods behind our community that leads to a lake. She sense of one-ness with nature is very much impaired. It scares me when I read "children of the digital age have become increasingly alienated from the natural world -- with disastrous implications, not only for their physical fitness, but also for their long term mental and spiritual heath."

She will never gather twigs and leaves and shape them into ornaments with clay like I once did nor will she know the exhilarating smell of rain on dry earth from within the confines of her temperature controlled, French-windowed bedroom. Raga Megh Malhar would not cause her spirits to soar like mine.


AltMama said...

I worked in museum education for a while, and several people I knew who worked at zoos/other nature-ish museums talked a lot about the importance of children having "emotional connections"--experiences, discoveries, memories--with nature. Evidently, the best indicator of whether a child will grow up to be environmentally responsible and active is whether that child had intense experiences with nature at a young age.

which is just to say: you're right to be thinking about this! :) And I'm sure you are someone who will make these connections for your children.

Priyamvada_K said...

Hi HC,
Good to read this blog. A friend laughed when I said I take my daughter to explore new places once a year or so. My friend's comment was "shouldn't you be taking her to Disneyland?"

I don't think so. I think she should get an appreciation of other things in life than rides and more rides. She does that kind of ride stuff once in a while in our town itself. Why go out of town for that? I'd rather take her to see waterfalls, gardens, museums, caves, zoos, beaches - whatever the place offers.