No Child: Your Thoughts

For those of you who responded to the Leave No Child Inside link last week, please take note: You can share a comment to the piece on the Orion site. The comments already posted are worth reading, if only to know that you are not the only one concerned that your grandchildren don’t know one tree from another.

Here is the comment I left a few days back.

I am truly encouraged to find the pendulum swinging, finally, back to a healthy center. I left biology teaching in the mid-80s partly because I no longer found enough field-interested students to enroll for my “Plant Life of Virginia” class at the community college where I taught.

The catalyst of Richard Louv’s writing has brought to the surface the uneasiness many of us as individuals and institutions have felt in the distance between all of us–not just youth–and the outdoors during the cultural shift towards indoor electronic inactivity, with the false belief that humanity is somehow apart from and above the cycles and rhythms of the natural world.

I have felt until now largely alone in my hope that, in my blogging and essays, I might reconnect ADULT readers with the small wonders of the ordinary. I have a renewed courage to persevere aggressively in this goal here in my Blue Ridge area of Virginia.

I also have a broader context in which to discuss my “memoir of landscape”, Slow Road Home –a Blue Ridge Book of Days, as it also serves to bring readers back to center on the “pace, place and pleasures” of the natural world.

I am so encouraged, with renewed hope that there are receptive ears to hear this message in our times. I think Mr. Louv is to appear soon in Roanoke not far from me, and hope to be able to hear him speak.

And this: Richard Louv will be reading these comments and making specific response on March 13 and March 20. This could represent some really valuable exchange of ideas, experience and hope on this important matter of reuniting ourselves (adult and child alike) with the wholeness that comes from simply being attuned to earth and sky.

Share this with your friends!

Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. fred- i still haven’t gone over to read the entire article…i’ll have to do that soon. with a 5 year old, i have to read things in bits and pieces as i get interrupted a lot….good interruptions, though.

    and speaking of my 5 year old…. we’re already trying to teach him about nature just by exploration and play outside- nothing structured. just on our walks up our street, he’s learned to identify oak and pine trees by their seeds…pine cones and acorns. we collected a lot this fall and keep them on the windowsill along with other things we find on our walks….we have cattails, bird nests, leaves, etc. he also knows the difference between deciduous and evergreen trees. i think that’s the best way for a young child to learn- being out in nature. and unfortunately, many children don’t have that opportunity. many live in cities, far away from any parks or outdoor sanctuaries, and they spend all day cooped up inside a classroom.

    i loved my community college experience at haywood community college in waynesville, nc. ecology was my favorite class b/c we spent almost every class outdoors. the campus is a wooded paradise with nature trails, streams, ponds, etc. i remember so much more from that class than other science classes spent indoors.