Children and the natural world

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Recently we reported about the fact that many youngsters in Britain have no idea where there food comes from and other issues of the countryside.

One can but wonder how much else they do not know as regards the natural world and products from Nature.

How many, one can but wonder, know or not know that paper, card and cardboard, is made from wood pulp, that is to say that from trees and if they know how many actually know – for far too many adults do not know either – that this wood pulp does not come from tropical rainforests. In fact most paper is made from the pulp of softwood trees such as pine and spruce, and grown specifically for the making of paper, card and cardboard.

How many also do not know that wooden spoons, spatulas, plants, pallets, and furniture once were trees or part thereof? Many, no doubt, believe that that is all made in a factory. They have never, more than likely, unlike most of us did as children, made a catapult (slingshot) from a forked tree branch or a walking stick from a sapling. Sad, this is; very sad indeed.

We are creating, in the UK especially, but more than likely also in the USA, generations of children and young people who have no idea of the Nature and the produce and products that come from Nature, whether from the woods or the farms.

Vegetables with dirt attached are also entirely alien to many of them and they cannot understand that that is how they come, in real life, and therefore they will want nothing to do with them. That vegetables generally, unless grown in hydroponic systems, as so many are today, grow in dirt, better known as soil, and thus have dirt on them that needs washing off is something they just do not know because of their detachment from the natural world.

But it is not entirely their fault. In fact it is not the children's fault at all. It is the fault of society that is trying to mollycoddle kids and keep them away from anything that could be remotely dangerous. So, no climbing of trees, no building dens and playing in the woods, and not even gardening as the tools can be weapons.

Not surprising, therefore, that today's kids, or a great many of them, are so very removed and remote from the natural world. In addition to that, unlike when we were children, they are also not allowed to see the realities of Nature; of birth and death in the wild, whether animal, insect or tree and of eating and being eaten.

That the burger they eat – though probably not at McDonald's – was once a steer and that it had to die for it is something they are totally unaware of. And also that the paper they use or the wooden ruler was once a tree is alien to them. But again, it is not their fault but it is due to the fact that the adult world refused to teach them reality.

Today's children and young people suffer from what has become known as Nature Deficiency Disorder and this being disconnected from Nature is also the cause for many of the problems in and with our children and young people today. It is also, probably, the underlying cause for much of the violence exhibited by kids today.

We must throw away the rule book and allow children to go bush again and experience, also for themselves, the natural world and play with the materials of Nature, including whittling catapults and walking sticks. And yes, that does include the use of a knife, a sharp knife.

© 2013