An unschooler offers an offbeat take on nature for children where he says it isn’t beautiful and that we cannot spoil or harm it.
In today’s world we normally get an overdose of environmental gyaan. We have green-everything being offered everywhere. Most of us are actually wary of these exposures, the claims, even the education. So I’m not keen on giving any lessons, but these are thoughts that I would like to share with children, perspectives that I wouldn’t like them to either agree or disagree with, but rather just ponder upon:
1) Knowing nature is not the same as understanding nature
Nature cannot be understood from books or TV channels. These can only offer information. Getting knowledge about nature does not necessarily mean that we understand it. In fact knowledge can by itself sometimes be a hindrance to understanding, especially if one starts thinking that one knows. If one has to understand nature, one has to interact with it, participate in many different ways with it, and be with it.
Children need to sleep under open skies, wake up with buds and birds, grow with tomatoes, soak in sun and water alike, to live their life with nature.
2) There is nothing like natural and artificial – everything around me is nature.
Come to think of it, man has not made/created anything. Everything exists in nature, everything comes from nature. Just because man boiled a potato, does not mean that the boiled potato is either artificial or man-made. Same with plastics or cement or robots!
I would invite children to look at everything around them as nature. Our capacity is limited to playing around with various processes – the infinite permutations and combinations that nature anyway revels in. Once we jump out of this notion, we can better understand what helps us and what does not.
3) We cannot spoil/harm nature.
Since everything is nature, we cannot harm it in any which way. We can only change it. The changes may benefit us or harm us. So we need not think or worry about nature, we need to worry (if at all) about ourselves. If I put mercury in a lake, it does not by itself harm the lake – it just changes its state/properties. But the new lake may harm human life adversely. We need to recognise that whatever we do, we only do to ourselves.