Educating Kids – Nature
Modern day kids are growing up with very little, or no association with nature whatsoever. Due to technology taking over home life, kids are seldom bored, and are therefore playing outdoors less and less. This is a disaster for nature and their understanding of the world.
Kids today are growing up in a fascinating time, in which there is so much opportunity, so much to do, and so much distraction. Nature as we once knew it is changing rapidly. The changes in the last 50 years have been astonishing. And not in a good way. We are driving beautiful animals and fascinating species to extinction. Kids today risk growing into adults not knowing anything about nature, and missing out on all the beauty that was right outside their windows when they were young.
No scientist or naturist can deny that in 15 years, the animal kingdom will be massively different. Much of what we now know will just be irrevocably stored in the past.
It’s not all bad though. Animal conservation programs, breeding sites, and replanting are just some of the things playing the part in keeping alive what we have, even make it better. The increased awareness that exists today is making a huge impact. The information revolution has allowed literally everyone on the earth to know about the current status of wildlife and the planet.
So what can we do to educate kids in nature and wildlife?
Well, it comes from two places. Schooling and parents.
Lets first focus on the big one – school. By school i mean primary schools, because once they introduce it, the high school will naturally follow suit. As i have said before, the education system at the moment sucks. It is outdated, ineffective and benefits very few students. It teaches many things that are no longer relevent in the modern day – it even teaches things that have never been relevant, and never will. For example, who needs to know the periodic table of by heart? The answer is very few people in the world, and even those who do will have access to an actual periodic table when they need one! They are not going to have to recall back 20 years to when they were in school! You can see what i mean about unnecessary things being taught. About valuable time (and money) being wasted.
So education needs reforming. We know that.
A major thing that needs to be introduced, along with food education, is nature and wildlife. Not biology but, actual, practical experience with nature. Fun learning. Fun facts. We need to get them back in touch with the wonderful world that surrounds them.
How can we do that? We make it a priority. We emphasize it over History, over Geography, over Science. People may say “woah, what!?!”, but the truth is, the time needs to come from somewhere.
People keep banging on about education reform, but they have the wrong idea about how its going to happen. It will not work as a TOTAL reform. The change will have to be incorporated slowly, probably one subject at a time. If we do it all at once, kids are likely to be left confused, as well as parents. Whereas, if we incorporate one new change – say nature lessons, then kids have time to get interested in it. It becomes a normal part of the curriculum. There is no forced learning. This would just create the opposite effect of what we are tying to achieve.
To further reiterate my point, topics such as Geography and history, are not really important. They can be learned later in life, if necessary. But nature and education, knowing the outdoors, knowing the state of our planet, cannot really be learned later in life. Because it is changing so rapidly. The fact is it, matters now.
So here are some suggestions for the government, for the education minister. For anybody who is vaguely interested in what i have to say:
- We make it mandatory that at least once a week, kids go out into the wild, out into nature. Be it the local park, woods or marsh. Let them explore the outside. Give them fun tasks to do, that encourages them to explore. Do not emphasize right over wrong. Emphasize interest, and curiosity.
- Make regular trips to nature centres, conservation centres, and zoos. Spark the student’s interest in animals.
- Take them to see first hand what deforestation is. This could be a trip across the world to places like the amazon. It could be to the local park. If kids see it first hand, then they are no doubt going to remember it for the rest of their lives.
- Have kids comes up with their own methods and plans to conquer the lack of awareness. Have them create flyers, leaflets, websites, apps… And the school helps them put their ideas into practice. They are then getting business and entrepreneurial education as well!
- Instead of giving kids homework, give students tasks such as exploring the outsideor telling their friends and family about what they’re being taught, spreading the word. Homework will then be seen as fun and it will give the kids a sense of completion and pride – they are completing set homework, but it is without the anxieties and worries that come with remembering how to divide improper fractions and the capital of Nigeria.
These are just examples, but if even one of these suggestions were made part of compulsory education, it would have a massive effect on our society, not only in 10 years, but instantly. What can a child do with knowing the capital of Nigeria? Not much. What can a child do with knowledge of the animals that our outside his/her house? What can kids do when they see deforestation first hand? They can come up with ideas, they know how important nature is, they know whats going on in the world. They know that it might not last. They will remember it for the rest of their lives. This knowledge is priceless. This knowledge matters.
So after the education provided by the school, parents also have a huge part to play. Now, many adults who grew up before the technological revolution, are still suffering the same fate as their kids. They are disconnected from nature. So how can we expect them to teach their kids about nature!?
I say to parents and guardians of children (or anybody reading):
Take it upon yourself to learn about nature. To reconnect yourself with nature. Go for a walk in the woods, and take your child with you. Read up on the current state of the animal kingdom. See how you can take part it conservation programmes. Donate. Take your kids out of school and go to a nature centre, or even better, across the world to see nature in foreign lands. Do not prioritise homework, instead prioritise interest and curiosity. Encourage them to go outdoors. Limit their exposure to TV or the internet. Make it a priority to get outside and see nature and wildlife first hand.
So there you have it. My opinion on how education could be made so much better with simply making nature and wildlife part of the curriculum. Not only are we teaching kids about nature. We are also teaching them about life, the world, and the future.
Our kids education is as important as we think it is, maybe even more important. We just need to look at it from a different perspective. The system today is just pushing water up the hill. It is failing for the most part and there is no valid reason for this, just a lack of understanding (and action).
What are your thoughts about the growing disconnect with nature? How can we increase awareness? Do you have anything you want to share on our site?