David Sobel, a colleague of mine at Antioch University New England, is fond of saying that we have to teach children to love the Earth before we ask them to save it.
Educating for sustainability, the Green Schools movement, nature-based early childhood education--all seem to share the old belief that every day should be Earth Day, but my quick review of the materials available to kids seems to fall more towards a "scared straight" view of environmental education. Polar Bears stranded on floating ice, rising sea levels, tropical storms, rapid extinction--it's enough to scare a kid straight, alright. Straight inside. (I think that's why David also tells us "No tragedy before 3rd grade," but I digress.)
I wonder, though, how much time do we spend helping our kids fall in love with nature by letting them be out *in* it? Attendance at AUNE's annual Forest Kindergarten conference tells me that the idea of letting kids get up close and personal with the natural world somehow resonates with all of us, but how do we balance that with the reality of testing? Not to mention the liability.
So, tell me Edutopians, how do you help kids to love the Earth--or at least get their hands dirty? What are you planning for Earth Day? What keeps you (and your kids) inside and how can you help each other overcome those obstacles? Spring is coming!
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