Caring for Nature Studies Could Be Dropped From The School Curriculum?
Nature dropped from the school curriculum – According to The Wildlife Trusts, proposed changes to the English National School Curriculum could mean that children will not be taught about protecting the natural environment.
In 2012 more than 162,000 pupils from 4,400 schools visited Wildlife Trust Reserves. They had the opportunity to learn about nature, ecology and the environment. But the current draft curriculum apparently drops any reference to English school children being taught to ‘care for the environment’.
Simon King OBE, President of The Wildlife Trusts has called for Michael Gove, Education Secretary, to increase environmental education in schools.
“A younger generation equipped to understand and tackle the massive environmental problems we have left them is our only hope for the future” he said.
Nature Studies – Then and Now
When I was a pupil at Bayford Primary School in Hertfordshire, we would have nature walks at least once a term. During those the teacher would point out seasonal changes and we would learn how to identify trees, flowers and creatures. We could see what was happening in the farmers’ fields and increase our appreciation of the environment. Of course, that was a small rural school and trips beyond the classroom were easier. We simply put on our coats and boots, formed a crocodile and went.
Today, as a guider in rural Norfolk, I find that youngsters cannot name plants and don’t understand how food is produced. Furthermore, they view the countryside as a place full of scratchy plants and scary insects. They no longer play in the countryside the way we did. Not only that but if they are allowed to leave the house unescorted, they must keep to the pavement and never venture down country lanes. Sadly, they perceive that danger lurks behind every bush.
Could it be, that our extreme caution is making the countryside into a scary place for our children? One that is impractical for regular class trips? Little wonder that we have produced a generation who are chronically detached from nature. Are horticulture and agriculture no longer seen as valid career choices?
Perhaps we should look at ways of lowering the barriers between indoors and outdoors. So could we view our fields, verges, parks and woodlands as part of nature and therefore part of life?
Here’s what I’d like to see more of:
- School allotments growing food and flowers for eating and crafts (even if they’re in the local park because the school grounds are too small to accommodate them)
- Nature walks
- Farm visits (or visits from farmers)
- Bushcraft (teaches the potential of “found” objects, resourcefulness and practical skills)
- Grass playing fields – with daisies and clover growing amongst the grasses to encourage bees
- Conservatories/greenhouses on school premises
- Wild flower meadows as educational resources
- Green roofs on bike sheds and bin stores as well as on the buildings
- Cookery lessons using fresh ingredients – so that children know where food comes from
- Sharing outdoor facilities with voluntary groups like:
- Beavers and
- Scouts – leading to peer education.
- By sharing we could keep charges to an absolute minimum.
Nature should be our best educational tool. It’s essential for our survival and children should all have an understanding of it’s worth. I would hope to see greater understanding of how much the environment does for us so that they grow up with respect for everything around them.