Sunday, August 02, 2009

How to lick a slug

This is a good article in the New York Times on the subject of Nature deficit disorder and what we are doing to our kids and ourselves. How to Lick a Slug By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF Published: August 1, 2009

Children for 1,000 generations grew up exploring fields, itching with poison oak and discovering the hard way what a wasp nest looks like. That’s no longer true.
My wife and I had the incredible privilege of raising our daughter Lucy on 11 acres of Arkansas forest. She learned to recognize poison ivy and to stay out of tall weeds and grass in the worst of tick and chigger season. We also took regular walks to the top of the mountain outside our front door to a special place we called "where the deer sleep at night." There we could find the circular nests where the deer lay on warm nights feeling the cooling breeze. Lucy would curl up in those spots, feeling kinship with the wild. From that point, you could see the trails radiating through the woods. The regular passage of deer hooves has a way of aligning pine needles making the trails appear luminous in the evening light. I feel deeply troubled for those young Americans who live the whole of their lives indoors and the dangerous lack of sensitivity that their ignorance will present to the future of our planet.

Television and computers are supposed to have an incredible educational potential. But if that education comes through abandonment of our traditional roles as backyard scientists engaged in direct observation of nature we have lost much more than we have gained.


  1. Doug about a year ago, my brother was encouraging his then 5 year old boy in his first t-ball team experience. He told John and his friends that when you are in the outfield, you stick a long blade of grass in your teeth (letting the seed end stick out of your mouth) and try to look real mean to intimidate the batter, ha ha!

    He said all the mothers started yelling, "ooh that's gross, that's dirty, don't put grass in your mouth!" and all the little boys obliged their mother's wishes.

    Well, I think this shows how our culture views nature, as well as the activities of childhood. Like we are all worried our kids might get dirty or something! good grief! that's what bathtubs are for!

  2. Unfortunately the mother may be right for all the wrong reasons. They may spray pesticides on the grass. But parents worry about all the wrong things anyway. They may encourage their children to drink from plastic bottles that leach estrogen emulating chemicals into the water. Boys are maturing late and girls are maturing way too early due to our unintentional interference in the chemistry of the human body. So much for mean and manly. Even sperm count is dropping at an alarming rate.

  3. You raise an interesting point, I had thought maybe dog urine or something. I don't know if there are any ball fields here that are being that well-groomed though.

    I didn't know that about plastic bottles.

    I notice a mental and emotional stunting of our youth these days which I think comes from parents being too protective and not allowing kids to take their own responsibility for their actions. But that sounds like a whole 'nother story.

    Have fun at your class this week! ~ d