MNC Review in CYE Online Journal

Many thanks to Louise Chawla, Professor at the College of Architecture & Planning at the University of Colorado, for her review of Mother Nature’s Child to be published in the next issue of the Children, Youth and Environments online journal:

“This beautifully conceived and realized 56-minute film seeks to demonstrate that experiences in nature enable children to develop their human potential most fully. The curiosity, wonder, animation, physical agility, pride of accomplishment, and sense of community that shines in the bodies and faces of the children and youth in its scenes suggest that this principle is well grounded. The film features successive stages of childhood and youth, beginning with toddlers in a Montessori preschool who use Rock Creek Park in metropolitan Washington, D.C. as their playground. It moves to examples of nature journaling, schoolyard greening, fishing, hunting and tree fort making in middle childhood, and ends with a group of teens on a six-month wilderness expedition. At each point in life, their teachers, trip leaders, and experts like Richard Louv, Stephen Kellert and David Sobel talk about the possibilities that the natural world offers for discovery and development. Jon Young, a tracker and naturalist, sums up one of the film’s main messages:  “The health of a human being and the health of our culture lies in our ability to bring that connection with nature back in.”

Some key topics covered are health, stewardship, risk management, uses of technology, spirituality, and community building. The film closes with the testimony of parents, enthusiastic about the benefits they see when their children play and learn outdoors. Richard Louv has the concluding statement: “If we start to think about our schools and workplaces and neighborhoods and cities that actually, through the infusion of nature into everyday life, become happier and healthier and smarter places—that is an exciting future!”

The DVD includes a brief study guide for discussion groups for the audiences it seeks to reach: parents, teachers, community groups, high school and university students, professionals at environmental and educational conferences, families and friends. The guide suggests ground rules for open-minded dialogues about the film’s themes and offers questions and prompts. One of the film’s merits is that it includes children, teachers and parents from a range of ethnic groups and income levels and from rural, suburban and inner-city neighborhoods. It demonstrates that its themes are relevant no matter where children live, and it suggests how to create opportunities for discovery, challenge and wonder in nature in a wide range of settings.”

 

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