Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Notes on "Last Child in the Woods" Part I

Louv, Richard (2005, 2008).  Last Child in the Woods: Saving our children from nature-deficit disorder.  New York, NY: Workman Publishing Company.

Part 1: The New Relationship Between Children and Nature

Gifts of Nature
p. 7  “Unlike television, nature does not steal time; it amplifies it.”
p. 10 “The woods were my Ritalin.”

The Third Frontier
p. 16  “In the space of a century, the American experience of nature--culturally influential around the world--has gone from direct utilitarianism to romantic attachment to electronic detachment.”
p. 19  “Not yet fully formed or explored, this new frontier is characterized by at least five trends: a severance of the public and private mind from our food’s origins; a disappearing line between machines, humans, and other animals; the invasion of our cities by wild animals (even as urban/suburban designers replace wildness with synthetic nature); and the rise of a new kind of suburban form.”
p. 23 “We can no longer assume a cultural core belief in the perfection of nature.”  On scientific development such as “critter on a chip” or the ear on the mouse.
p. 25 “Today sprawl does not guarantee space.”

The Criminalization of Natural Play
p. 28 “Countless communities have virtually outlawed unstructured outdoor nature play, often because of the threat of lawsuits, but also because of a growing obsession with order.”
p. 28 “Most housing tracts, condos, and planned communities constructed in the past two to three decades are controlled by strict covenants that discourage or ban the kind of outdoor play many of us enjoyed as children.”
p. 30  “If endangered or threatened species are to coexist with humans, adults and children do need to tread lightly. But poor land-use decisions, which reduce accessible nature in cities, do far more damage to the environment than do children.”
p. 30  :The US Department of Agriculture projects forests declining from 767,000 in 1982 to 377,000 in 2022.”
p. 30 “The cumulative impact of over-development, multiplying park rules, well-meaning (and usually necessary) environmental regulations, building regulations, community covenants, and fear of litigation sends a chilling message to our children that their free-range play is unwelcome, that organized sports on manicured playing fields are the only officially sanctioned form of outdoor recreation.”
p. 33 “Another British study discovered that average eight-year-olds were better able to identify characters from the Japanese card-trading game Pokemon than native species in the community they lived: Pikachu, Metapod, and Wigglytuff were names more familiar than otter, beaver, or oak tree.”
p. 33 “In Israel, researchers revealed that  nearly all adults surveyed indicated that natural outdoor areas were the most significant environments of their childhood, while less than half children ages eight to eleven shared that view.”
p. 34 “...In Amsterdam, a study compared children’s play in the Netherlands in the 1950’s and 1960’s to child’s play in the first years of the 21st century: Children today play outside less often and for briefer periods; they have a more restricted home range and have fewer, less diverse playmates.”
p. 34 “In the United States, children are spending less time playing outdoors--or in any unstructured way.
p. 34 “Also, children spend less time playing outdoors than their mothers did when they were young, according to Rhona L. Clements, a professor of education at Manhattanville College in New York State/  She and her colleagues surveyed eight hundred mothers, whose responses were compared to to views of mothers interviewed generations ago: 71 percent of today’s mothers said they recalled playing outdoors every day as children, but only 26 percent of them said their children played outdoors daily.”  
p. 35 “Clearly the childhood break from nature is part of a larger dislocation--physical restriction of childhood in a rapidly urbanizing world, with nature experience a major casualty.”
p. 35 ” studies suggest that exposure to nature may reduce the symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and that it can improve all children’s cognitive abilities and resistance to negative stresses and depression.”
p. 36 “Nature-deficit disorder describes the human costs of alienation from nature, among them: diminished use of the senses, attention difficulties, and higher rates of physical and emotional illnesses.”

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