Recently a group of us attended Richard’s presentation at the Friends Center. A lot of us are fans of Richard Louv’s bestselling book, Last Child in the Woods. His ideas regarding experiential learning really jive with how we at Metcalfe think about designing for kids. He covered a range of topics, reiterating some of Last Child and plugging his next book.
Before the lecture, I reviewed the book and one paragraph jumped out at me: "…many of us must overcome the belief that something isn’t worth doing with our kids unless we do it right. If getting kids out into nature is a search for perfection, or is one more chore, then the belief in perfection and the chore defeats the joy." I think any parent will understand both sides of that obligation/ joy balance.
During the lecture Louv caught my attention when he stated that 20 academic studies per month are published regarding the benefits of nature for children. He writes: “environment-based education produces student gains in social studies, science language arts, and math; improves standardized test scores and grade-point averages; and develops skills in problem solving, critical thinking and decision making."
More recently, I read Florence William’s book, The Nature Fix, which focuses more on cognitive and emotional benefits for adults from exposure to plants (“immersion” in nature is not necessary). This book took a more cross-cultural anthological approach with lots of time spent in Asia and Northern Europe.
One interesting passage attributes Finland’s famed ranking as the happiest country on earth to the fact that 95% of the population spends significant time “recreating in the outdoors.”
Studies suggest a threshold of 5 hours per month “to elevate mood and stave off depression.” William’s goes on to hammer home the point “that the benefits of nature work along a dose curve.” Some is good, more is better, a lot more is best. After all, “nature is like caffeine or heroin. You keep wanting more.”