Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Book review: Last Child in the Woods

This was a fantastic book! In it Richard Louv writes about the "third frontier," where children are alienated from nature by well-intentioned environmentalists, technology reigns in education, children know lots of biology facts but don't understand the biology in their own backyard and raising food is unfamiliar. He calls this "nature-deficit disorder."

Louv cites many benefits of being in close contact (NOT digital contact) with nature every day: mental, physical and spiritual health; increased confidence and awareness of the environment; and increased creativity.

He gives lots of suggestions and ideas for getting a child out in nature more, such as gardening, fishing, hiking, keeping a nature journal, etc.

It's interesting how former generations realized the great need for children to be outside. In Understood Betsy and The Secret Garden and Heidi, nature and being outside were critical for health and healing. Charlotte Mason suggests in Home Education that children should be outside as many hours in a day as possible, even on cold and wet days. She makes a big deal about children being in nature and learning natural history. How did we lose that? Kids spend so much of their lives indoors at school, watching TV and playing computer games. How has our culture forgot how important nature is?

His description of how technology "narrows the senses" resonated with me. After reading The Well-Trained Mind and Last Child in the Woods, I am thoroughly convinced that limiting technology in our home and education is the best thing for my kids.

Louv is a proponent of experiential education. I have to say that a balance between experiential or place-based education and language-based or classical education (as described in The Well-Trained Mind) will probably the best thing for my children. I can see benefit in both.

I would highly recommend this book to all parents.

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