Thursday, 11 December 2008

Nature? What's that?

Thanks to Juliet for her post on the stripping out of words from the Oxford Junior Dictionary - a horror which had passed me by. The humble primrose, along with allotment, catkin, blackberry, and even Gawd help us, dandelion and conker - two things you'd think would be familiar to even the most urban, have gone, along with many others.

I can't say I'm hugely surprised. I live in a rural-ish village, surrounded by fields, and with large woods a short walk away, and the ignorance our children have about the natural world astounds me. This summer I took our church youth group round the churchyard to see what flowers were growing, and once they'd got past buttercups and daisies they had not the remotest idea what anything was. They were very interested to learn, and amazed that I knew so many names (a childhood devoted to Enid Blyton's Nature Books saw to that, as well as the good old nature table at school).





Schools have to shoulder a fair amount of blame for opting out of teaching children about the natural world. It's tempting to blame parents, but they are, I think, fighting an uphill battle. My own daughter reaches hideous heights of scorn when I say "Oh look, there's a harebell," or whatever. "MUM - NO ONE'S interested in that anymore. The world's different NOW."

And alas, it appears she's right.

7 comments:

Juliet said...

Too right - the world's different now. And how sad that is. I try to interest my three in the natural world, too, but (apart from Boy, who enjoys watching wading birds through his binoculars and is quite knowledgeable about oystercatchers, egrets, etc) to little avail. There was a time when no primary school classroom was complete without a permanent 'nature table'.

callmemadam said...

Country Living magazine is running a Bring Back the Nature Table campaign.

Susan in Boston said...

Jane,

That's just awful! If children aren't learning anything about nature, what are the odds that they'll have any interest in preserving it?

Is there anything like this in your area?

http://www.massaudubon.org/Nature_Connection/Sanctuaries/Stony_Brook/index.php

This is a place I visited all the time as a child...and one of my best friends did the summer camp there, which she loved.

Bovey Belle said...

Good grief woman - I was only talking about this to my husband not an hour ago - BEFORE coming on here, obviously! I would love to volunteer to teach local schoolchildren about nature around them - wild flowers, fungi, birds, insects etc. I LOVED the Nature Table when I was at school - imagine the mass exodus when we opened our box of local fungi to show . . . a Stinkhorn - which more than lived up to its name.

Jane Badger said...

Juliet - my two used to like birdwatching with me but alas no more. CMM- yes, you're absolutely right, and looking it up, a Northamptonshire school won it! Cor.

Liz said...

Kids here still learn lots about 'nature' (aka 'the bush' or 'Australian native fauna and flora); at least at my son's primary school they do!

Jane Badger said...

Susan - I've just looked at Mass Audubon, which looks amazing. I was struck though by the request to stay on trails to avoid ticks and poison ivy. Ticks (Lyme bearing ones) used not to be a problem here but are becoming so, although afaik we don't have poison ivy. Our local country park does a few similar things, but on a much smaller scale.

Bovey Belle - yes, I can imagine the scramble for the door!

Liz - Australia is obviously much more switched on than we are. If only our government didn't have this obsession with the National Curriculum. Ironicallly a very popular programme here is Spring Watch, which is a nightly update on what's going on in the countryside, so it's not as if there's no interest in the population as a whole.