'To a person uninstructed in natural history, his country or seaside stroll is a walk through a gallery filled with wonderful works of art, nine-tenths of which have their faces turned to the wall'.
Between having sand kicked in my face by burly continental naturists - as opposed to naturalists, some people get the two confused - I did manage to get in some relaxing holiday reading. And what a fab book it was. Last Child in the the Woods blows the penny whistle on the de-naturing of today's children and youth. Gone are the days when little nippers made their own unrestricted creative play in the nature environment and in are computers, electronic games, stranger danger, risk aversion and the criminalisation of play. As a result Richard Louv contests that modern society is conspiring to close off children from the outside world with all its health and spiritual benefits and is thereby promoting a Nature-deficit disorder within the young.
On reading this excellent book I had several eureka moments none more so than the chillingly honest section entitled ' The death of natural history'. Louv talks about the existing crisis in the study of natural history whereby the age profile of the membership of natural history societies is commonly in the Saga holiday bracket and for this he points the Pooh stick at the educational system that has ditched the study of this most worthwhile of subjects. He goes on to point out that children do receive some environmental education often around subjects such as rain forests etc. but that this only fosters a misunderstanding that Nature is only found overseas and in special places rather than on peoples doorsteps. However, the loudest personal 'hear, hear' was reserved for the university system that is producing environmental graduates who have no taxonomic skills whatsoever.
I could go on singing the praises of this book but writing this is keeping me from getting outdoors to sample the splender of the natural world and from my daily roly poly session - its whats keeps me balanced. Suffice to say I wholeheartedly recommend this book and would encourage the raising of Nature - deficit disorder as an issue that needs addressing urgently and by all. Check out http://www.childrenandnature.org/.