In our day, I know of no one who has done more to promote a “back to nature” philosophy than Richard Louv. He is a journalist and author of many books about family, nature, and community. His website is RichardLouv.com. You can find his books on Amazon (of course). My two favorite books are The Nature Principle and Last Child in the Woods. Notes and quotes are below. (I’ll get around to expanding all of the them.)
Kindergartners who played in natural areas vs those who played on manufactured playground were more alert, better coordinated, more imaginative, and more likely to create their own games. (p. 88)
Children who played in man-made structures established their social hierarchy based on physical competence. Those who played in green areas based their hierarchy on language, creativity, and inventiveness skills. (p. 88)
Many creative historical figures raised in nature or experienced shaping events in nature: Thomas Edison, Ansel Adams, Jane Goodall, John Muir, Mark Twain, Eleanor Roosevelt, among others. (p. 89)
Nature’s restorative power
Participants in 1 to 2 week wilderness programs reported a greater sense of peace, and greater mental clarity, and attributed more to just being in nature than to the physically challenging activities.
Fascination (involuntary attention) give directed attention (voluntary) a break.Office workers with views of bushes, trees, or other plants reported significantly less frustration and more enthusiasm in their work.
Proofreaders who went on a wilderness backpacking trip showed improved performance while those who took an urban vacation or none at all showed no improvement. (p. 101)
Several studies showed that children who live near, or play in, green space have lower attention deficit symptoms. In contrast, indoor activities, or activities outdoors on pavement, increased ADHD symptoms. “The greener the setting, the more the relief.” Concentration improves. Impulsiveness decreases. Gratification can be delayed longer. This works for girls as well as for boys. (p. 105)
Our ecological preservation programs (recycle, save the rain forest, save the animals) may actually be instilling a negative attitude about nature under abuse, which is just another stress children will try to avoid. They are rarely educated about the positive things in nature right next door to them. (p. 134)
The Arts increase SAT scores
“A 1995 analysis by the College Board showed that students who studied the arts for more than four years scored 44 points higher on the math portion and 59 points higher on the verbal section of the SAT.” (p. 137) [note: Art is not nature, but creativity is a common theme.]
In the global OECD comparisons, “Finland scored first in literacy and placed in the top five in math and science.” The USA was in the middle of the survey of developed countries. Finnish students do not enter school until seven. There is a national curriculum and certification, but teachers are given freedom in their teaching. Between 45 minute classes, the students are given 15 minutes outside. (p. 204)
Schools with environmental programs have fewer discipline problems. They also reported increased science mastery, improved cooperation and conflict resolution skills, as well as gains in self-esteem, problem solving, and motivation.
Compared to students in conventional schools, students in schools with diverse natural settings were “more physically active, more aware of nutrition, more civil to one another, and more creative.” Teachers also reported that when teaching outside they felt “excited again.” (p. 220)
Long term positive benefits in self-esteem, leadership, academics, personality, and relationships were more commonly achieved by wilderness programs such as Student Conservation Association, Outward Bound, and the National Outdoor Leadership School. (p. 230)
Camps for disabled
A 2001 analysis showed that people with disabilities participated in outdoor activities as much or more than non-disabled people. Findings from 15 summer camps with special programs for children with disabilities revealed improved initiative and self-direction transferred to home and school. (p. 230)
A thought provoked by a combination of things I read: Can years of not growing up in nature be compensated by months of hiking, camping, etc…?
A striking conclusion occurred to me. We need to make our schools, government, homes, and other institutions more like nature and less like prison. We choose our symptoms.
16- better bomb sniffers
22- distractions destroy creativity
24- sharpness vs dormant
27- study acuity grows
29- 1 hour = 20% improvement
30- green schools are better
32- nature connection, then info comes for the ride
59- walk in nature vs mall
35- city time vs bio time
47- green hospital recovery
47- lower BMI
51- Japan stress hormone lower
80- elderly studies
185- job satisfaction improves
186- absenteeism decreases
257- Louv’s quoting of Leopold struck me: “To plant a pine, for example, one need be neither god nor poet; one need only own a good shovel. By virtue of this curious loophole in the rules, any clodhopper may say: Let there be a tree–and there will be one. If his back be strong and his shovel sharp, there may eventually be ten thousand. And in the seventh year he may lean upon his shovel, and look upon his trees, and find them good.” (Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac, and Sketches Here and There, p. 81)