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Ecopsychology and Nature Education

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Eli Willis

on 8 February 2014

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Transcript of Ecopsychology and Nature Education

Project of Ecopsychology
Nature Deficit Disorder
Flow Learning
“How can we redefine mental health within an environmental context?
What underlies the irrational consumption habits of modern society?
Why is it that when environmentalists speak of the need to reduce consumption they arouse such anxiety, depression, rage, and panic?
How can the environmental movement find more effective ways to win the hearts and minds of the public than by endlessly scaring, shaming, and blaming?”
Source: Ecopsychology: Restoring the Earth, Healing the Mind
Ecopsychology and Nature Education
Psychological: Frames human concerns within the context of larger than human scope of existence and views human psyche as a product/ part of nature.
Philosophical: “Healing our dualism by returning soul to nature and nature to soul.”
Practical: How can we reclaim our connection to nature and how can we as humans heal our planet and ourselves?
Critical: Social criticism is necessary if we want to change the world! We also have to be conscious of diversity and systems of privilege and power. (Ecofeminism focuses on this.)
Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods
“Nature-deficit disorder is a term I use to describe the human costs of alienation from nature. Among them: diminished use of the senses, attention difficulties, and higher rates of physical and emotional illnesses.”
This is not a medical diagnosis, rather a condition common to many children, adults, and communities.
Developed by Joseph Cornell
There are Four Stages of Flow Learning
1. Awaken Enthusiasm
-Ignite the spark of curiosity!
2. Focus Attention
-Focus on using senses and become calm and observant.
3. Direct Experience
-Experience nature firsthand and feel one's place within nature.
4. Share Inspiration
-Reflect on and share the experience through discussion or even journaling or art.

Source: Sharing Nature with Children II
Everything is Connected
Theodore Roszak notes that traditionally, all systems of thought included nature.

Western Culture thinks dualisticly, separating "Nature" and "Culture."
Science is beginning to see things as more holistic and interconnected and some are trying to find a “Grand Unified Theory” that describes everything, including science and spirituality.

(Sound familiar? This is what The Tao of Physics was talking about!)

Psychology has spread from looking at inner thoughts to interpersonal and sociological perspectives. The logical next step is expanding understanding of consciousness to the environment.

If we see ourselves as part of a natural ecosystem, we can also see nature as social and psychological.

Sources: Theodore Roszak’s The Voice of the Earth: An Exploration of Ecopsychology and Searles’s The Nonhuman Environment: In Normal Development and in Schizophrenia.
What's going on?
“Researcher David Sobel says schools are unintentionally spreading “ecophobia,” a term he uses to describe fear of ecological deterioration. Lacking direct experience with nature, children begin to associate nature with fear and apocalypse, not joy and wonder.”
Kids don't go outside as much because of TV and computers as well as fears of "stranger-danger."
"Know-it-all-state-of-mind" (coined by D.H. Lawrence) is our tendency to look at the surface of things and think we know all about them. This comes in part from being fed information.
Being in nature inspires wonder and curiosity! It encourages us to use our senses, which are integral to learning!
The Proof (cont.)
The Proof
“In the 1990’s, studies showed that students who had a significant proportion of their classes outdoors improved their scores in social studies, science, language arts and math. They also did better on standardized tests and improved their grade-point averages, as well as their skills in problem solving, critical thinking and decision-making.
This summer (2005), the California Department of Education and the American Institutes for Research revealed the results of a major study of outdoor-based school programs in three cities. Among the findings: sixth graders in these programs improved their math and science scores by 27 percent; they were more cooperative, more engaged in the classroom and more open to conflict resolution.
Other evidence suggests that natural surroundings are a boon to children’s creativity as well. Compared with children who play on flat, asphalt playgrounds, children in natural play areas -- with grass and trees -- are more likely to invent their own games.”
“More than 100 studies reveal that one of the main benefits of spending time in nature is stress reduction."
"Human-Environment Research Laboratory at the university of Illinois show that direct exposure to nature relieves the symptoms of attention-deficit disorders. “ Spending time indoors or in paved, “non-green” areas actually increase symptoms.
People who become environmentalists later in life had positive interactions with nature as children. As children have less experience with nature, they may grow up not caring about the health of the planet.
Source: Interview with Richard Louv about Nature Deficit Disorder by Michael F. Shaughnessy
Let's Try It!
Close your eyes...
Nature education is necessary to bring up a generation of healthy individuals and communities.

Spending time in nature, studying it, and thinking in an ecopsychological perspective will help us create a better world!

So go outdoors, climb a tree, stare at the clouds, plant something, pretend to be an animal, and share the experience with your friends!
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