Thanks to the NAEE blog for alerting me to a piece by Rob Bushby in The Scotsman. Bushy is the awards manager for the John Muir Trust and he was writing about whether children are really as disconnected from nature as we're all supposed to believe. His article is also placed on the Trust's website.
His article begins:
“Children are disconnected from nature” has become something of a worrying mantra. We’re told that they spend less time out of doors than prisoners. That one in ten is obese. But it isn’t the face value of such statements that’s the worry. The concern is what they obscure, and that they aren’t challenged and unpacked in more constructive ways. Is the issue really as acute as these statements suggest? The air we breathe is ‘nature’. So too is the food we eat. If children truly were ‘disconnected from nature’, they’d be dead. If one in ten children is obese, nine aren’t then? Prisons offer enlightened rehabilitation schemes, some with extensive outdoor dimensions focused on gardens, nature reserves and National Parks.
It’s not a binary thing. We’re not either connected or disconnected. We’re all somewhere on a spectrum that reflects our experiences, knowledge and proximity to nature, and our values in relation to it. Research conducted by the RSPB in 2012 found that 21 per cent of 8-12 year-olds had “a level of connection to nature that is considered to be a realistic and achievable target for all children”. Ok, not great, and plenty of scope to do lots more. Yes, there are barriers we need to explore and address, relating to perceptions, distractions, opportunities and finances. B ut blanket pessimism conceals three things. First, the great work taking place on a daily basis bringing young people and nature together. Second, that it’s those from poorest backgrounds who have least access and opportunity. And third, the exciting potential to achieve further progress.
As you see, it's an unusual angle and one worth an second read. This article appeared in The Scotsman newspaper, 13th January 2017