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RE: [art_education] Re: - what's a "Big Idea?" Nature-deficit disorder

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  • Hillmer, Jan
    Honors to you, Larry, not only for your beautiful and thought provoking article, but also for the commission. I guess I have to add that book to my reading
    Message 1 of 4 , Jun 29, 2007


      Honors to you, Larry, not only for your beautiful and thought provoking article, but also for the commission. 

                  I guess I have to add that book to my reading list, too.

                  So much to do, and so little time.


                  Jan in Tampa

      This past week, I had the good fortune and blessing to be honored at
      our states Department of Natural Resources annual Warden convention
      as an artist. I was commissioned to offer a painting that depicted
      what it is wardens do.

      Their guest speaker that evening, a professor, referred to a book
      several times, and I was sure to pick it up at a Barnes and Nobles on
      my way home. It is titled, "Last Child in the Woods- Saving Our
      Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder" by Richard Louv. Reading...it
      breaks past several generations into that first American generation
      that used nature in a utilitarian way. The second generation.. .those
      born from 1946 to 1964 as perhaps the last generation to have
      experienced intimate familial attachment to land and water and
      romanticizing nature. Whereupon now this last and present generation
      has an electronic detachment with nature. As one fourth grader
      named, Paul put it..."I like to play indoors better, 'cause that's
      where all the electrical outlets are!"

      The author gives a good case that nature inspires creativity in a
      child by demanding visualization and the full use of the senses.
      Given a chance, a child will bring confusion of the world to the
      woods, wash it in the creek, turn it over to see what lives on the
      unseen side of that confusion. Freedom, fantasy, privacy...a place
      distant from the adult world...a separate peace. The gifts of nature
      are to children for its own sake, not as a reflection of the
      culture. Louv lists disturbing trends of today's wired generation to
      some of the most disturbing childhood trends: the rise in obesity,
      attention disorders, and depression. The first book to bring
      together a body of research indicating that direct exposure to nature
      is essential for healthy childhood development, and physical and
      emotional health of children and adults.

      Interestingly, our professor/speaker with a powerpoint more or less
      demonstrated how we regard what we love with greater care, protection
      and that this wired up generation is of a great concern to scientists
      and naturalists. Without the connection, who is to say with what
      fervor future generations will serve as stewards of the land?

      When I see globalism's making a profit their chief and often only
      concern, and the destruction such concern such as 70% of Beijing's
      drinking water tainted and undrinkable (a concern to the Olympic
      committee).. .and jobs going to countries that are not concerned with
      human welfare regulations or environmental safety nor well-being;
      will our future generations adapt little concern to protect what we
      have here...intent to bring those jobs back at ANY cost?

      As a landscape/nature painter...I have seen this romanticism of the
      baby boomers that appreciate such art, but the wired up generation
      shows little connection to understanding the beauty, the imagination
      of being there...least not enough to demonstrate understanding that
      the price to acquire a piece of art makes sense. Very simply...they
      can get all of nature they want from turning on Animal Planet
      station, watch "Planet Earth"...on their large screen television,
      then go back to the internet or the cellphones and forget about it.

      I have a feeling that the redemptive nature of art is going to be
      challenged in the future to rekindle this fantasy and passion for the
      outdoors before we lose all lands to development. Talk about "BIG
      ideas"...I know it has me as an art teacher thinking. I recommend
      getting a copy of this book...and it just seems to make sense now why
      art instruction made its connection to various generations as it did
      and when with philosophy and strategies to teach art changing along
      the way. Problem is...as new art instruction ideas come out...if
      they are seeking only to fill the classroom and assure the keeping of
      teaching positions... then unknowingly and unwittingly we may be
      further endorsing and feeding that which appeals and drives the
      "wired-up" generation instead of being stewards, mentors and proper
      care givers. A generation more attuned to sound bytes...flash,
      something constantly going on...bells and whistles, losing that art
      of listening, hearing, observing, going into a quiet place,
      fantasizing, imagining grand things, well...they are not learning the
      full measure of empowerment to appreciate art over one's life-time,
      and coinciding nor are they learning to appreciate and value nature.
      Artists and nature have long been friends, but even our tendencies to
      embrace and chase after culture is altering that relationship I fear.

      Stuff I'm chewing on right now...having not the answers, maybe
      awakening to it in part thanks to my experience at the banquet this
      past week. Not surprisingly wardens and naturalists seem first to be
      aware of this trend...and I wonder how long before it really makes
      inroads in the education setting? In reflecting.. .I have myself gone
      out fishing a bit less, hiking not as much with the time I spend
      nurturing my art business online, chatting and so forth. I'm
      fortunate to have cultivated the habit of painting outdoors on
      location...for that is some saving grace. I am thinking...I need to
      check my priorities a little more.

      take care


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