As Corbett states in her book “Communicating Nature” one of the main influences on how a person views the environment comes from their childhood experiences. There has long been a perception that “Europe does it better”. European citizens are more likely to care about their environment using green energy sources, recycling etc. Why is this though? How do we get Americans to share these same ideologies instead of denying world’s ecosystem is NOT changing at a drastic rate?
By changing childhoods. Of course this is not a simple solution, and also not the solution to the major problem but it could be one way to get more young impressionable children outside and connecting to nature. My father teaches at a private elementary school in Yellow Springs, OH that is one of the first schools in the US to start a “forest kindergarten”. This is a very European movement getting young children outside and into forests as a form of their primary learning instead of being taught in a class room. No matter the weather, or time of year children pull on rain boots and hike out between the trees exploring streams and the forest floor, expanding their senses and learning about nature first hand.
The movement was started in Germany in the late 18th century and has grown since and is called Waldkindergartens, directly translating to Forest Kindergarten. The point of these early experiments were all about “Nature Immersion” and that continues through today, having the early impressionable school years not inside walls. As children are pushed more and more indoors as nature areas shrink and neighborhoods become sterilized I hope this movement can take off in the US and more children can spend their beginning school time forming a relationship with nature, that we know from Corbett is invaluable.