The problem with environmental education

A trail at Jacobsburg Environmental Education ...

Wondering why your uber-environmentally aware kids don’t like to play in dirty. Read Look, Don’t Touch: The problem with environmental education, by David Sobel in Orion Magazine.

“FOR SPECIAL PLACES TO WORK their magic on kids,” wrote lepidopterist Robert Michael Pyle, “they need to be able to do some clamber and damage. They need to be free to climb trees, muck about, catch things, and get wet—above all, to leave the trail.”

…and then take your kids to some wild, wild spot where they can climb, run, catch things, get wet and dirty… and fall in love with our planet.

via my lovely friend Brooke and her awesome “leave the trail” family.

Photo: A trail at Jacobsburg Environmental Education Center (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yes, there is such a thing as loving nature too much

Flora: Mom! You have to come see this, it’s so cool! The mushrooms we picked in the orchards are full of maggots!

Jane: Yuuuuuck…

[A little while later]

Jane: Flora? Babe, can I please, please, please throw out the magotty mushrooms now?

Flora: Oh, ok.

Jane: Thank you.

Flora: But you can’t throw out the maggots!

Jane: Baby, you are not raising maggots.

Flora: They’re living creatures! And look, they’re all white and cute and squirmy.

Jane: I’m going to vomit. Flora, they turn into flies. They’re gross. They need to go.

Flora: Fine. You can get rid of them. But you can’t kill them.

Jane: How the hell am I supposed to do that?

I interrupt here  my favourite technique for sharing these moments with you–via raw dialogue–to spare you the prolonged exchanged that followed, which doesn’t really show me to the world in the best light. On the plus side, I didn’t vomit.

Jane: That was the most disgusting thing I’ve ever done. Flora, house rule #–where are we Cinder?

Cinder: 714.

Jane: House rule #714. No maggots anywhere near the house. Ever.

Cinder: I thought boys were grosser than girls, generally speaking. But Flora’s pretty hard to top sometimes. I mean, I think me and Ender are grosser in, like, theory–but Flora’s way grosser in practice.

Flora: What! You’re calling me gross? Want me to smear maggot on your face?

Jane: Look! Earthworm! Cute earthworm!

Ender: I eat it!

Flora: No! I’m coming to save you, earthworm!

I blame The Wonder Pets.  Josh Selig, are you aware of the depths of suffering you’ve caused?

English: Maggots. Commercial maggot breeders a...

Maggots. Commercial maggot breeders are able to dye the maggots different colours in order to be more “attractive” to the fish the anglers are targeting. These are from Eurobait. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) I thought coloured maggots would be a mite less gross. I was wrong. And I will now probably never eat rice again.

I’m on my way back! Almost home. And I’m sure I’ll have plenty of gross, er, funny stories to share… Because Cinder, Flora and Ender don’t change much even when the geographical locus does…