Saturday cartoon by Ralph Underhill

sticks

 

 

 

 

 

Just one in five children are connected with nature – more in towns than the country  BBC, Guardian and Metro.

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11 Replies to “Saturday cartoon by Ralph Underhill”

  1. And then you can burn it on your wood burning stove!! They can burn 'Animals of farthing wood' and especially 'Bright eyes'. It always reminds me of Myxomatosis!! Not a bright eye in the place come autumn! That's why I concentrate on kids books now instead of adult ones. http://www.langford-press.co.uk/Screamer%20the%20Swift.htm

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  2. Oh dear... have you seen the actual survey that the children took to give this result?
    I cannot decide whether it is just really badly worded and vague, without a chance of telling us anything meaningful - or whether it is very precisely and deliberately worded in order to skew the results towards this doom-laden conclusion. Either way, its awful and I cannot believe that the RSPB can call this a "scientific" study. What a wasted opportunity.

    What does "connected with nature" mean? That isn't made clear. Does it mean that kids don't get outdoors as much as they used to? (Well that's hardly news). Or does it mean that kids don't care about the environment? (Not true in my experience). Or does it mean that most kids aren't interested in the wildlife around them? Does the RSPB think there used to be a magical past time when all kids were interested in wildlife? What rubbish! I bet there is exactly the same proportion of kids interested in "nature" now as there ever was - and that was probably never a huge proportion.

    Yes, certainly lets encourage kids to get outside - its healthier. But please don't lets try to kid ourselves that this will lead to our children all growing up to be David Attenboroughs or Chris Packhams, or other, less famous but equally vital workers on behalf of the natural world. Some will (like the marvellous Findlay Wilde who has written so eloquently on this blog) but most won't. As with every past generation.

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    1. Anne -

      You said you think it is really vague, but kids have responded that they find it much easier to complete and understand than the other similar academic methods to assess connection to nature

      You ask: What does Connection to nature mean? Well the survey methodology defines it as: "the degree that an individual includes nature as part of their identity and it includes an understanding of nature and everything it comprises, both good and bad."

      It seems to me you have assessed the survey as "awful" based on a look at the questionnaire. I would struggle to support Jung's extrovert / introvert theories solely on the base of the trait questionnaires, but I accept their underlying principles and the stated validity of the results, and the usefulness of the insight it gives us.

      It is the importance of the results that matter: We have got to give kids more time and space to enjoy nature, so that they can benefit from it health-wise, and so that they can also be champions of nature for the future. On a policy level, the questionnaire can now identify where and for whom particular efforts might be required. And the method throws up useful questions that need following up - why are girls more connected to nature, despite their freedom to roam from home being so much less?

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      1. David, thank you for that reply.
        Yes, I am not surprised that the children found the survey easy to complete. It is easy, and worded in simple terms. However, some of the statements are open to interpretation - for example -
        "When I'm sad, I like to go outside and enjoy nature". What do you think "enjoy nature" means? What would it mean to an eight year-old?
        "I like to hear different sounds in nature". What do you think that means? What does that mean to an eight year-old?
        "My actions will make the natural world different". What do you think that means? What does that mean to an eight year-old?
        Do you see what I'm getting at here? Are these children given a definition of what "nature" or "enjoy nature" is in this context? Does it mean just getting outdoors and enjoying the sunshine, digging holes, making sandcastles, rockpooling, climbing trees? Does it mean going on nature trails and being taught about wildlife? Does it mean studying animals? Do you think some of the children in the survey might have a different idea of what "enjoy nature" might mean than others, or a different idea from an adult? Its too vague to draw any conclusions from.

        You mention that I have looked at only the survey. In fact, I also read all the information provided on the RSPB website about the report, the "baseline connection measure" and the methodology. I am not surprised by the conclusions, and I am not worried by them either. I think that, if the survey does indeed give an accurate reflection (and I'm not sure that it can), then 20% of our young people are connected to nature - and I see that as a positive result! If this survey, whether it is flawed or not, encourages us as adults to get our kids outdoors more, then that's a good thing too!

        You state -
        "It is the importance of the results that matter: We have got to give kids more time and space to enjoy nature, so that they can benefit from it health-wise, and so that they can also be champions of nature for the future. On a policy level, the questionnaire can now identify where and for whom particular efforts might be required. And the method throws up useful questions that need following up - why are girls more connected to nature, despite their freedom to roam from home being so much less?"

        I agree with that sentiment completely, but I am intrigued as to your claim that girls have less "freedom to roam from home". Can you explain that please?

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        1. Oh, and I forgot to add in my reply - that "definition" of "connected to nature."

          "the survey methodology defines it as: "the degree that an individual includes nature as part of their identity and it includes an understanding of nature and everything it comprises, both good and bad.""

          I don't think I'm any the wiser.

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        2. Anne
          You asked about girls having less freedom to roam. I cannot recall the exact statistic right now (I will be digging it out), but a 1990's study showed an astonishing difference between the distance girls were allowed to roam on their own and the distance boys were, and that this had declined (figures now quoted are 90% decline in roaming distance overall). The reference is Matthews (1987)" Gender, home range and environmental cognition", Trans Inst Br Geog (NS) 12: pp43-56. I think it is also referred to in a 1990's EN research report ?no 22.

          Re the questionnaire - you could likewise pick out individual questions of a extrovert / introvert test (e.g "I prefer walking on the sunny side of the street") - the methodology is robust to apply a measure of identification to the natural environment that can be applied to populations. That use means individual interpretation of questions become insignificance. I would agree that it is not without risks if used with individuals or very small groups - on the basis of my anecdotal trial of the methodology with kids I know well, introverts could score slightly lower, since they are often less emphatic.

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          1. Thank you David.
            I find it an interesting and surprising statistic - I had imagined that the gender differences in freedom would have become more evenly balanced than that in recent years.
            One of the reasons that this particular area of the findings interests me is that the course that I lecture on (which prepares students for work or higher education in the animal care industry, conservation, ecology, zoology or veterinary care) attracts many more females than males, in a ratio of around 8:1. I look forward to further work that might explain why - I would love to know!

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  3. Anne,you summed that up perfectly,why ever did not the rspb get you to do the survey.I think they would have got more meaningful conclusion.

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  4. Anne

    I don't think that anyone is saying that more children will be turn out as Chris Pakham. What is important is that everyone has a better undestanding of the natural environment.

    Have you read Stephen Moss's excellent report from last year - http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/document-1355766991839/ which is where David Ward's film and the work RSPB, NT and 100s of others started.

    Off to see Project Wild Thing tonight.

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  5. Walking back to the Lodge after a fruitless search for the Great Grey Shrike today (got a nice mistle thrush instead mind you!) I passed two boys running about brandishing 'sticks'.

    First boy: "We need to survive..."

    Second boy: "We need more sticks!"

    Nature - adventure - connection - Wonderful!

    (secretly I wanted to join them!)

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