Saturday, August 2, 2008

British Paper Notes Lack of Nature Literacy in Children

"Children have lost touch with the natural world and are unable to identify common animals and plants, according to a survey.

Half of youngsters aged nine to 11 were unable to identify a daddy-long-legs [what we call a crane fly], oak tree, blue t*t or bluebell, in the poll by BBC Wildlife Magazine. The study also found that playing in the countryside was children's least popular way of spending their spare time, and that they would rather see friends or play on their computer than go for a walk or play outdoors." Read more.

Take the quiz on the paper's page. These are British animals and plants, so don't get too upset if you are in the US can't identify them--I missed two myself. What it does show, though, is that the problem that so many of us see right here in the US is not unique. When 5th grade students pile off a school bus and enter a nature preserve, see a chipmunk and yell, "Beaver!!" there is something very lacking in their education. These same children will see a toad, call it a frog, and have no interest in learning what it really is. They will, in fact, argue that it is a frog...their father told them so.

More troubling is that the children in the British survey said that playing outside was their least favorite thing to do. Is it the lure of electronic gadgets that keeps them inside, or is it fear of strangers, wildlife, the unknown? Lack of control over what they do...?

The cure? Get out. Often.


Alice Gunther said...

Thanks to Redwall and The Secret Garden, I was able to get most of these, but not all!

That goldfinch was absolutely stunning. It looked like a flag come to life.

Karen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Karen said...

Hi again! Am re-posting because I realized that in my haste I missed a few words.

I came to your blog from another I read regularly. I was very interested to read this (thanks for the link to the British article). I'm not surprised and we live in a hearty, outdoorsy area on Canada's West Coast. I see many of the little boys my boys play with who spend, from what I can gather, most of their time either playing video games, surfing on the computer (and these are primary grade boys), or watching TV. When they come to play at our house they are amazed that our boys don't have a TV in their room, they don't know how to turn on the TV or DVD in the living room, and in fact that I won't allow TV at a whim. Nor will I let them sit on the computer. Play with real people, that's why you're here for a playdate I say. We encourage fun, raucous play outside, in the playroom, arts or baking and yet still they resist. They want those electronic babysitters.

MacBeth Derham said...

Most curious, isn't it Karen? It makes me wonder how we got to this point.