Here’s something I’ve been considering a lot lately. How does environmental stewardship develop, exactly? Where is that sweet spot between the lure of science as a discipline and the pleasures, and love, of the outdoors? David Sobel’s take:
Most environmentalists attributed their commitment to a combination of two sources, “many hours spent outdoors in a keenly remembered wild or semi-wild place in childhood or adolescence, and an adult who taught respect for nature.” Involvement with organizations like Scouts or environmental clubs was cited by significantly fewer of the respondents. Chawla found that environmentalists talk about free play and exploration in nature, and family members who focused their attention on plants or animal behavior. They don’t talk much about formal education and informal nature education. Only in late childhood and adolescence do summer camp, teachers, and environmental clubs start to show up as being contributors to the individual’s environmental values and behaviors. It seems that allowing children to be “untutored savages” early on can lead to environmental knowledge in due time.
Meanwhile, back on the ranch, later today I’m meeting with teachers to develop a several-hour visit for a mixed-age, Montessori fourth and fifth grade class to a restored pond habitat. It’s to be an experience to feature Kingdom Protista—a la Montessori and Big Picture Science—in its finest.
One of these days I’ll understand how my past as an Africanist historian funneled me bass-ackwards into being an amateur urban habitat ecologist…but not right now—for it’s time to bring on those elegant, silent Protists.