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Alex Douglas-Kane shares her experiences and understanding of Discover Nature Awareness

Friday, 27 August 2010

Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Childern from Nature-deficit Disorder

I have been dipping in and out of Richard Louv's book, which I am finding really interesting and as I read it, I am reminded of my childhood and other life experiences which I would like to share with you over the coming weeks...

Chapter 7. The Genius of childhood: How Nature Nurtures Creativity.

I was once asked at university to explain spirituality in relation to academic part of the course I was on. How do you do this it is such a personal experience, anyway this is what I came up with on the hoof as I had been given no warning.

To me the brain is an important part of us but it is not the whole of us, for example I need my brain to get me through the day when problem solving and so on. The computer is like the brain, when I step up to the key board, i can write a book, draw a picture, crate music and much, much more. In fact the computer has come a long way there are programmes that monitor what you do the computer and then the next time you step up to it, the programme will preempt you behaviour, this is known as automaticity *.

It is like learning to drive a car for the first time, you are constantly thinking about every action you need to take from mirror to gear changing. However, after a while you find you can drive from point A to point B and not even remember doing this, that's because the short-term memory as stored these actions into long-term memory, therefore freeing up the short term to deal with more immediate problems.

So back to creating a book etc on the computer, it's a wonderful thing to be able to do all these amazing things with the computer/our brain. However, once I step away from the computer that's all it is a computer, it needs me my creativity, my soul, my heart. without this the machine will just be there.

So what has this got to do with children's creativity?

Well I remember once a colleague came into work after the Christmas break, I asked him way the long face, he said he had bought is grandson the biggest and best Tonka toy you can imagine, he then went on to say that his grandson played with the toy for about twenty minutes but then moved onto the box which he played with for the rest of the holiday. Of course he would I replied that's because THE BOX can be a racing car, a ship, a castle or even an aeroplane, it can be anything you want it to be.

As a child I can remember playing with a pen with a small ruler pushed into the clip, that pen was a plane in that moment, then I would take the ruler out and it became a submarine and so it went on for example I would take an old shoe box with my friends and we would draw square son the lid and draw in rivers, hills an woods. Then we would get our Airfix soldiers and a dice, make up some rules and we would play for hours, if you got a six you beat the person you were up against Now, I like to think that this game we all played as kids was the fore runner of Risk today, who knows.

The point is while computer programmes and games are truly amazing and excellent tools for learning etc there is no real replacement for being out in nature. As children we would think up all sorts of adventures to get up to, from building a den to cowboys and Indians (hands up who always wanted to be an Indian).

More to come later...

*Automaticity is the ability to do things in long-term memory without occupying the short-term memory with the low-level details which would require a large amount of attention, thus allowing it to become an automatic response pattern.

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