September is a lovely time of the year in West Lancashire, the skies are filled with the sounds of skeins of wild geese and swans returning home from Europe for the winter. It is a scene that our ancestors, over the centuries would have equally been familiar with and one that reminds us of our inextricable connection to the natural world. However Richard Louv in his hauntingly beautiful and reflective book, ‘Last Child Seen in the Woods’ describes how this connection is increasingly being eroded in the modern world and coined the term ‘nature deficit disorder’ to describe this loss. International research (Baker:2005, Moss 2012) concurs with Louv’s observations and identifies how the loss of a connection with nature impacts upon our health, well-being, social and emotional development alongside the costs to our environment. There is now a strong recognition of the need to redress this problem as evidenced in UK Government reports e.g. ‘Realising Nature’s Value’ (2013) and a clear understanding of how schools and education have a pivotal role in this reconnection of children and families back to nature. Organisations such as the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), National Trust and the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust (WWT) are all actively campaigning on this issue and offering practical support to teachers, schools and families in how to develop a ‘nature identity’.
The WWT Centre at Martin Mere, Burscough are currently offering free Teacher Taster Days on the 16th October (4- 6.30 pm) and the 18th October (1-4 pm). These sessions are designed to support teachers in school in understanding the range of resources and workshops that the Centre can offer school groups and in providing imaginative and inspiring ideas to take back into the classroom. Please see the leaflet attached for further information. Places can be booked through phoning 01704 891244 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org
As part of the long established close partnership that the Foundation Subjects Team have with Martin Mere, there will be an opportunity for all our Initial Teacher Trainees in the Faculty of Education to come and talk to the learning staff and find out more about how Martin Mere can support their teaching and learning in the classroom. The Martin Mere team along with other Learning Outside the Classroom providers e.g. Farming and Countryside Education will be in the FOE Foyer on Tuesday 21st October from 1-4 pm. Additionally our Year Two Primary Trainees on the PED2016 Foundation Subjects Module will be working alongside Martin Mere and FACE staff during their morning seminars on that day and will then visit the Martin Mere centre later on in the year. In this way we strengthen our trainees understanding of the value of Learning outside the Classroom and working in partnership to address this fundamental problem and to support children in respecting and enjoying nature and connecting to their ‘nature identity’.
Further information surrounding the issues of ‘nature deficit disorder’and the new national educational initiatives and campaigns designed to address it can be found at the links below.
Richard Louv’s website http://richardlouv.com/
RSPB Giving Nature a Home http://homes.rspb.org.uk/
RSPB Connecting to Nature Report http://www.rspb.org.uk/Images/connecting-with-nature_tcm9-354603.pdf
National Trust Natural Childhood Report http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/document-1355766991839/