Shifting Phases's Reviews > Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder

Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv
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A persuasive argument in favour of unstructured outdoor experience. Louv mostly avoids criticizing info-tech, but occasionally tips his hand: "Instructors in medical schools find it increasingly difficult to teach how the heart works as a pump... 'because these students have so little real-world experience; they've never siphoned anything... may not even have hooked up a garden hose.' " (p. 66) Interestingly, his stance sometimes puts him at odds even with conservationists, who may not look kindly on children nailing up boards for treehouses.

Also notable:
"In 2001, the Alliance for Childhood... released 'Fool's Gold: A Critical Look at Computers in Childhood'... thirty years of research on educational technology had produced just one clear ink between computers and children's learning." (p. 136)

"Like a sugared drink on a hot day, [electronic] entertainment leaves kids thirsting for more -- for faster, bigger, more violent stimuli. This insidious, new kind of boredom is one reason for the rising number of psychiatric problems among children and adolescents, according to an article in Newsweek..." (p. 167)

"Orr argues that the ecological crisis is rooted in the way we educate future generations. The dominant form of education today 'alienates us from life in the name of human domination, fragments instead of unifies, overemphasizes success and careers, separates feeling from intellect and the practical from the theoretical, and unleashes on the world minds ignorant of their ignorance.' In other words, today's practices help create the know-it-all state of mind, and the accompanying loss of wonder.

Orr calls for a new approach to education to promote 'ecological design intelligence' that could, in turn, create 'healthy, durable, resilient, just, and prosperous communities.' ... Orr proposes that colleges set a goal of ecological literacy for all students, so that no student would graduate without a basic comprehension of:
- the laws of thermodynamics
- the basic principles of ecology
- carrying capacity
- energetics
- least-cost, end-use analysis
- how to live well in a place
- limits of technology
- appropriate scale
- sustainable agriculture and forestry
- steady-state economics
- environmental ethics" (p. 221)
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
October 1, 2010 – Finished Reading
February 23, 2011 – Shelved

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