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 How do we re-learn how receive the gifts of nature in our lives. HAAEYCE 2010 Fall Conference

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Grape Vine
Grape Vine

Posts : 112
Points : 260
Join date : 2010-06-04

PostSubject: How do we re-learn how receive the gifts of nature in our lives. HAAEYCE 2010 Fall Conference   Wed Sep 29, 2010 3:58 pm

This past Saturday I assisted Halcyon Reese-Learned present a workshop at the Houston Area Association for the Education of Young Children (HAAEYC) fall conference "Give Nature A Chance". The workshop explored the importance of native plants for the biosphere, for human health, food, and materials, and for our spiritual and psychological well-being. The underlying approach for discussing these themes was to recall our (presenters and participants) earliest memories and experiences with plants (Great approach, Halcyon!).

What we realized:
1. The more we all shared, the more we remembered, and the happier and more lively the room became!
2. Even at a very, very, young age, experiences in wild nature had had profoundly enjoyable and, sometimes, profoundly spiritual long term influences on the participants.
3. These intensely fun, creative, and profound experiences in nature were all FREE!

Now children mostly play in artificial, barren areas (playgrounds and manicured yards) and we all may be forgetting what we are losing.
We need to re-wild our playgrounds for everyones well being.

We came up with some thoughts to keep in mind as we try to reintroduce native habitats to the places we live, and to our children.
These are ideas that used to be part of our common heritage, and are important for our ongoing well being.
They are ideas to mull over in our minds as we are outside in nature with our children, not to present as dogma!

The the major sections, and the topics within each section, are organized, roughly, by age appropriateness.


Guiding Young People in Nature

Sensory Experiences

• Tactile unstructured play experiences in a real, complex, natural environment. Physical manipulation of materials to build and construct: i.e. pokers, piles, houses (large or small), ‘weapons’, jewelry, etc.

• Sensual (smell, taste, visual, sound) interactions with a real, complex natural environment. Different light/shadow affects in the environment, sounds and their sources (i.e. birds, leaves), smells in the air or of materials (i.e. dirt, different types of leaves, bugs, flowers), taste of edibles (adult supervised).

• Imaginative uses. Lucky stones, magic dust, special animal friends, secret sacred space.

Structural Information

• Present information in the form of asking children questions. Be supportive of off target answers and refine your question.

• Hear questions from the children and affirm their quality. Use questions the children ask to present more information or admit to not knowing the answer (if you don’t) and wonder/state out loud how and where you might find the answers.
-‘Online Curiosity Killer’ by B. Greenman http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/19/magazine/19lives-t.html?_r=1&ref=magazine

• Details, the more the merrier!
- Children are as clear thinkers, and as intelligent, as adults, they just have less experience, emotional maturity, and thus less judgment. Their ability to understand facts is just as developed as adults. They can understand the rules of a game well before they can abide by them!
- Children’s minds crave details and connections between details. This is a crucial survival adaptation. This is especially true for humans since we are born so underdeveloped relative to other species. Our underdeveloped state makes it essential that we rapidly grab/construct a ‘mind map’ of our world.
- This hardwired drive manifests itself, in a nature deprived state, through the proliferation and popularity of artificial and useless ‘mind map’ universes: Pokemon, video games, D&D/Magic card game, Bionicle, Gundam, etc.

Survival Information

• Be grounded in reality, clearly explain and impress dangers, sickness, and even (age appropriately) DEATH. It is not as shocking to children as it might seem to adults. Children want to know the boundaries in all aspects of their lives. It makes them feel safer, as long as you clearly explain the rules to ensure their safety. This gives them real, centered, competency and empowerment.

• Risk, and our individual competency to mange risks, is a part and parcel of living life. The constant state of least risk, is when we are dead. Real or perceived risks, an inherent part of truly complex environments, spark our minds and creativity. This is part of our physical/biological structure. When we are safe and full, we sleep!

Meta Concepts

• Superimpose known schema/scales of organization or structure onto newly revealed schema/scales. (i.e. Who are the ‘deer’ and ‘lions’ of the insect world on this plant?)

• Break the boring box and transport the mind.
- Move from the commonplace/separate/insignificant to the crucial/personal/wondrous. (i.e. Common weeds with a history of use as food or medicine.)

• Investigate processes. (Age appropriately, top to bottom, younger to older)
- Life cycles (including predation, protection, decay, and renewal) of plants and creatures.
- How did we get from the past to the present? (i.e. Where did our food plants come from? How were they developed?)
- What kinds of information did everyone used to know, but very few do now? (i.e. intimate knowledge about the plants and animals in our communities, how to grow food, where our food came from.)
- What have we lost from our lives with the loss of this knowledge? What have we replaced this knowledge with?
- How might these changes affect our future?

Adult Modeling of Valued Experiences, Information, and Meta Concepts

• Adult responsibility. All of us (adults) need to know about, and interact with the plants and creatures native to where we live. This is a fundamental and essential aspect of our spiritual and physical health. The information is easy to understand and easily accessible, if we make the effort. If we don’t care, why should our children?

• Understanding nature and our dependency on nature is the best grounding in reality. The only way to effectively address the many world problems we and our children face is to have a clear grounding in reality.

“People who know nothing about nature are of course neurotic, for they are not adapted to reality.”
Carl Jung, from Memories, Dreams, Reflections.

• This grounding and immersion in the natural world is the path to transcendent and truly satisfying lives for us all!
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How do we re-learn how receive the gifts of nature in our lives. HAAEYCE 2010 Fall Conference
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