“The future will belong to the nature-smart—those individuals, families, businesses, and political leaders who develop a deeper understanding of the transformative power of the natural world and who balance the virtual with the real.” – Richard Louv
Happy Friday Everyone!
It was refreshing to wake up to rain this morning and with fire conditions across the bay area, it couldn’t have come at a better time! Our hearts go out to our family, friends, and our neighbors who have been displaced or impacted by the fires.
Thank you to everyone who is reaching out and helping those in need. You are making the world a better place.
On Wednesday, Katie, Sue, and I went to the Commonwealth Club’s presentation of the Hybrid Mind by Richard Louv. He offered a compelling discussion about the importance of finding balance between the use of electronics and technology and being outdoors in nature. Richard’s talk resonates with our schoolwide focus Health and Wellness.
The three areas he targeted were:
- Create a hybrid mind.
As technology becomes increasingly accessible, how do we balance the 24/7 always on, always connected lifestyle with the idea of being outdoors and developing an appreciation for the natural world? Richard embraced the idea of inclusion and encouraged us to seek a balance for ourselves and especially for young children. How do we foster this in our own lives and how do we model it for our children?
- Support and create bridges to nature for young people.
Dr. Stephen Kellert states, “Play in nature, particularly during the critical period of middle childhood, appears to be an especially important time for developing the capacities for creativity, problem-solving, and emotional and intellectual development…” “Unstructured free play in the out-of-doors brings a host of benefits to children — from being smarter to more cooperative to healthier overall.”
Richard cited example after example of schools that were reducing or canceling recess in favor of more “academic” time. He described schools that eliminated music and/or PE and extended the school day while reducing students’ time outside.
*Interesting factoid – In the United States, prison inmates get more time outside (2 hours/day) than children do (1-1:15 hours) during the day.
Richard also shared a number of the impacts of nature on children and his findings are consistent with what we have seen at McAuliffe:
- Creativity, physical competence, social skills, environmental knowledge, confidence, and problem-solving ability are among those benefits to children’s development.
- It also leads to enhanced cooperation and conflict resolution skills; gains in self esteem; gains in positive environmental behavior; and gains in problem-solving, motivation to learn, as well as having positive impact on their personal, intellectual development.
- Outdoor education leads to persisting benefits for children even years after the event.
- Become leaders in the new nature movement.
Finally, Richard challenged the audience to become leaders in a counter culture. He spoke specifically to tech industry leaders and then encouraged all of us to stand up for a balance in technology and nature.
On many levels, McAuliffe has been on this path since we were founded. We have always embraced the notion that learning happens everywhere and “Classrooms without Walls” describes our daily practice. At the same time, as a progressive school, we can be better than we are now. And that all of us working together as a village can make this happen.
What can we do here at McAuliffe to be leaders in the counter culture that embraces the importance of nature along the electronic/technological world?
What can we do at home to foster this in our own lives and the lives of our families?
Ok problem solvers! Now’s our chance! Let’s hear your ideas and let’s make this happen!