Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Biggest Playground On Earth

Lately I have been playing around with people that think kids should go outside and play!! Well, actually I have been listening to speakers that have been promoting this idea, and meeting with lots of folks that agree with this. A week or so ago, April 13th to be exact, I attended a lecture sponsored by The Holden Arboretum (see--,) "Nature Play Matters." the speaker--Dr. Elizabeth Goodenough, Harvard University, was "speaking to the choir" as it were. From what I could see the audience was comprised of outdoor educators, outdoor education activity coordinators, outdoor program organization representatives and just plain outdoor types. (I didn't actually look, but I bet most of the footwear consisted of some form of hiking boot! But I digress!) But the message about natural play was important for all to hear none-the-less. It is not a new idea, In fact there has been legislation in Washington since early in 2009.
According to Open Congress, the bill is sponsored by Congressman John Sarbanes (D-MD). Officially called H.R.2054 – No Child Left Inside Act of 2009,
This bill seeks to enhance the environmental literacy of American students, from kindergarten to 12th grade, to foster understanding, analysis, and solutions to the major environmental challenges facing the student’s state and the Nation as a whole. Appropriations would be provided to train teachers for such instruction, provide innovative technology, and to develop studies assessing the worth of these programs in elementary and secondary school curriculums.
This legislation, known as "No Child Left Inside Act of 2009," is currently in committee. Basically it amends the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. This movement is a response to the popular book "Last Child In the Woods," by Richard Louv, and has a companion movement throughout the country in the Children and Nature Network and in Ohio in the statewide movement "Leave No Child Inside" collaborative.
This brings me to the meeting I attended yesterday--The Northeast Region of the statewide Leave No Child Inside. The organizing meeting was attended by representatives of most of the noted Northeast Ohio Outdoor organizations--Of course, Lake Metroparks and The Holden Arboretum, but also included were professors from Hiram College, and Mount Union University (new name as of August.) Also, the YMCA Outdoor education facility was represented as were the Stark County Metro parks, and a few others. Imagine that, all these folks and all this energy to get us to take our kids outside! Is this all necessary?


Our kids are turning into an "inside species." They even sit inside and watch programs about the outside. The programs aren't bad. In fact I love them. But now that we are all amazed by the "Life" that is a part of our world, lets get out and enjoy it. Get out to the Parks. Get out to the backyards. Go for a walk. Watch a pond. Plant a tree. Observe a bug. (Remember
watching a group of ants marching on the sidewalk? Well, they still march!) Feed a bird. In fact, just go outside and play. We have the biggest playground in the world just waiting for you and your kids. What do you think?


Stewart M said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stewart M said...

I used to watch kids at a senior school I used to know hide in door ways and scream if it started to rain. I dont mean "once in 500 year rain event" type rain, but any rain at all. I used to call it "Toxic Rain Syndrome", and it seemed to me to say that these kids had no link to the outside world at all. Most of my biology students had never seen a platypus in the wild, and almost non could tell the difference between a parrot and a pigeon! Such things are not good. Get your kids outside and get them muddy! Find leaves, get wet, reconnect!

RBenz said...

I agree (of course.) A fellow biology teacher friend of mine used to say--"You can only get so muddy--eventually the mud falls off and you are less muddy." And--" You can only get so wet--eventually you start to dry off." Sooo..., get out there and get wet and muddy and have fun and learn something!!!