Richard Louv in his critically acclaimed book Last Child in the Woods, explains the nature deficit disorder that is harming our children. Throughout the book he shows how important it is for our children to reconnect with the natural world. Too often the young are stuck in front of screens in basements, entering into alternate realities, which often leave them dissatisfied, stifled, and bored.
Our boys especially need the adventurous challenges that nature provides. They are not made to be soft, lying on couches during the summer in air-conditioned rooms. They are made to run over fields and through forests. They ought to know the trees that tower nearby, and the birds that wake them on summer days. They should camp out occasionally in the backyard, or build forts in the nearby woods. They should learn how to catch and clean a fish; how to keep insect collections, and how to track animals.
Richard Louv presents a compelling argument in his book for reconnecting kids with nature. One major problem he has noticed is that attention problems increase in those who have nature deficit disorders. The quick fix of a TV show or video game, does not compare to an afternoon of archery, or a hike along a beautiful wooded trail. It is time that we find ways to open doors to the natural world, especially for our boys who so need to use their energy in healthy ways–ways that enrich their lives and open them up to the wonder of the world around them.
Plato once depicted a group of human beings chained in a dark cave looking at the shadows of puppets on the wall in front of them. The puppet masters held the puppets in front of a fire and danced their shadows on the wall. The poor chained folks had no clue how far they were from the reality of the outside world–of true light and real forms. They had grown accustomed to the darkness and the strange shapes.
Plato used this image as a metaphor for those who have not received a good education and were far from a true knowledge of reality. A major part of education is releasing the young from the hold of the puppet masters–those who would keep them addicted to entertainments that do not truly wake them up to the world, but keep them in the dark and inside. It is imperative that we help the young, especially our boys, to awake from the stupor of digital additions, and soft entertainments, and explore the great outdoors–to experience the adventures in nature and grow in daring, and become alive to the world! Plato was referring to the light of truth, and not just knowledge of the natural world. However, I think the metaphor is a good one for nature deficit disorders as well.
I hope you enjoy reading this book. It is a Riverside recommended book for parents.