We are now entering a time in which our first "child care center" children are now parents. The days of all parents knowing the freedom and growth of wandering in the back yard, to the neighbors house - building bridges over the creek....all unsupervised, are over. This change is showing in our young people in subtle ways - from their inability to look people in the eye and converse, to being in the same room and yet everyone is looking at their telephone, to driving in the car and not saying a word because the kids need to watch a movie in the 5 minute ride. All of these "losses" seem small until you look at the direction it is bringing us as humans.
I spent six hours at the MassAEYC conference with Johanna Booth-Miner (SUCH a cool lady....my generation, so we share lots of the same feelings) talking about these changes, and things we (as child care people) can do with children to give them as much nature as possible during our time with them. I'll talk LOTS more on that in future posts, and let me tell you- do I have some great ideas planned for my family to help with! Today I want to end by sharing a study that Johanna talked about, it is also referenced in "The Nature Principle" by Richard Louv. "Army Sgt. Maj. Todd Burnett, who has served in Iraq and Afghanistan, conducted the research. The 18 month long study of 800 military personnel at several bases found that the best bomb-spotters were rural people, familiar with hunting, who signed on with the South Carolina National Guard. According to Burnett, ""The just seemed to pick up things much better....they know how to look at the entire environment". And the other young soldiers, the ones who were raised with Game Boys and spent their weekends at the mall? By and large, these enlistees lacked the ability to see nuances that might enable a soldier to spot a hidden bomb. Even with perfect vision, they lacked the special ability, that combination of depth perception, peripheral vision, and instinct, if you will, to see what was out of place in the environment. Their focus was narrow, as if they were seeing the world in a set format, "as if the windshield of their Humvee was a computer screen", Perry wrote. Sgt. Maj. Burnett put it this way: The gamers were "focused on the screen rather than the whole surrounding". The army is using this study and several like it to adapt their trainings. A sign of the times for sure!
I don't know about you.....but if I'm ever in a Humvee in the middle of a war- I sure hope the person driving has played outside a lot as a child!