Free Range Children

Dateline: 18 November 2006

The current issue of GRIT magazine contains an article about the book, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder, by Richard Louv.

A picture with the article shows a boy sitting in a field that is scattered with freshly-baled hay and a tractor with a baler in the distance. The caption reads:

“Few children today share the sensual experience of this Idaho boy watching his father haying.”

Here’s a couple quotes from the GRIT article:

“Nearly 8 million children in the United States suffer from mental disorders. Obesity rates in children are soaring; children are being diagnosed with depression, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) at alarming rates...”
“At the same time, children are increasingly disconnected from the natural world. While children of decades past spent summers building tree houses and forts, and winters sledding and building igloos, children today are stressed, over scheduled, and wired to television and computers and television.”

The point of Louv’s book is that exposure to nature is necessary to a child’s physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.

We who live and raise our children within a rural setting, who encourage them to get involved in the natural world about them, and who delight in seeing them do so, understand that what Mr. Louv is saying is true. In fact, it seems rather obvious. But I guess the obvious is not always obvious to everyone. In any event, I’m glad to see the book addressing such an important issue, and getting some attention.

This matter and Mr. Louv's book strike me as further evidence, further validation, that life lived within the agrarian paradigm is not only well and good, it is the way life was meant to be lived.

My only thought about that boy sitting by the edge of the field is that I hope he is not just a passive observer. He should be involved and working right along side his father. That subject would be fodder for another good book.


Barbara Frank said...

Free Range Children...once upon a time, that phrase would be an example of stating the obvious, but not anymore. Today people pay extra money to buy free range chickens, and even more money to lock their children up in day care centers. Go figure.

Thanks for another good post. Wishing you and your family a blessed Thanksgiving.

Ryan said...

And this is where the link to Lenore Skenazy's blog goes.