What do Ben Franklin, Leonardo DaVinci, Beethoven, Nikola Tesla, Thomas Edison, Mozart, John Frost, Henry David Thoroeu, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Isaac Newton, Galileo, Albert Einstien, Carl Linnaeus, Copernicus, The Wright Brothers, Charles Darwin, Vincent Van Gough, and many other great men and women of art and science have in common?
They were all influenced by nature and created some of their greatest accomplishments by observing it and learning from it.
As our plugged-in lifestyles cause us to spend less and less time outdoors, what is being lost as we become more and more disconnected with the outside world?
The sedentary lifestyle spent in front of screens has led to a dramatic increase in obesity and other health related issues.
The resources below show how Environmental Education can help both children and the economy.
Why Environmental Education is Important
Today we are seeing a drastic change as people spend more time indoors in-front of screens and less time exploring the world around them. This generation has been growing up indoors and disconnected.
According a worldwide study in 2005, %53 of children expressed feelings of fear about natural processes such as rain, wind and snow.
This movement indoors is not benign; there are costs to the health of our children: attention difficulties, hyperactivity, childhood obesity, diminished use of senses, disconnect from things that are real.
Additionally, if children are detached from nature, how will they learn about, understand, and value nature? How will the next generation care about the land and be stewards of its resources?
What is the cost to society?
Cost of Obesity:
According to a study of national costs attributed to both overweight
(BMI 25–29.9) and obesity (BMI greater than 30), medical expenses
accounted for 9.1 percent of total U.S. medical expenditures in 1998
and may have reached as high as $78.5 billion ($92.6 billion in 2002 dollars)(Finkelstein, Fiebelkorn, and Wang, 2003).
Approximately half of these costs were paid by Medicaid and Medicare.
Cost of ADHD
[Center for Disease Control & Prevention]
Rising hyperactivity and and attention deficit causes significant burden on the medical and healthcare system. The cost of ADHD is estimated to be between $36 and $52 billion, and is estimated to be between $12,005 and $17,458 annually per individual.
This does not mention the stress on parents, teachers, and the students own self esteem and achievement
Cost of Disconnection to Nature
[Asia-Pacific Forum on Science Learning and Teaching]
53% of children in a worldwide study expressed feelings of fear about natural processes such as rain, wind and snow. Schoolyard design also reflects a lack of understanding of how quality outdoor play environments can provide children rich educational opportunities, particularly in the area of social skills and environmental learning (Evan 1997)
Environmental Education can be a solution to these issues.
[Campaign for Environmental Literacy]
Environmental education increases student engagement, improves academic achievement in core areas, reduces discipline and classroom management problems, increases enthusiasm for learning, creates greater student pride and ownership in accomplishments, and provides critical tools for 21st century workforce.
This has been proven to be true for students with and without learning disabilities.
Children and families with opportunities to play outside in natural areas and explore their environment have been found to develop a deeper sense of place and understanding of who and what they are.
Families that understand the benefits of outdoor play are looking for ways to allow their children time outside in a safe learning environment.
Now that we know environmental education can directly and indirectly add social and economical value, how do we go about implementing strategies to ensure that our communities have access?