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Biophilia and Ecoliteracy in Humans

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Location: United States
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Biophilia is essentially love and attachment to Nature.

Ecoliteracy is essentially having an understanding of how the natural world works.

What activities do you and others like to do that improves your ecoliteracy, biophilia, or both?
How can someone's love of nature be started or inspired?
How can someone's understanding of and curiosity for the natural world be started or inspired?
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Location: Mena ,Arkansas zone7
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with my children I did:
1. took them out on nature walks
2. collected plant samples and dried them and taped them to index cards
3. took them to the library to looked up and label the types we collected
4. made sure they understood how those plants came to be
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Location: Pacific Northwest
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Thinking back to my childhood, the the things that I remember creating my love for the environment were:

  • Playing outside--Just unstructured play in nature. Jumping from boulder to boulder, making dams in the ditches, climbing trees, and pretending to be a Native American, etc. The last on the list isn't something I'd go leading children to do, as it can easily become grounds for stereotypes. But, as a child I had very idealized ideas of Native Americans and their connection to the earth. That was a connection I truly want to emulate. Kids learn through play. They love to act out what people they admire do. Show them admirable people who have a connection to the earth. This is probably a great way to teach history, and if one fears kids sterotyping/cultural-appropriation of a people, perhaps tell them stories of earth-tending elves and have them watch David the Gnome...
  • Foraging outside--I think this was the biggest thing that cultivated my love of outside. Knowing that the woodland and the garden can feed me, is HUGE. I remember asking my mom if I could eat something, and she'd tell me "Not right now, it's almost dinner." So I'd be sneaky and ask, "can I go outside to play?" And then I'd much on tomatoes and green beans and huckleberries or salmonberries! Nature provides for us. Show them that connection by teaching them wild foods and edible weeds and showing them what they can eat in the garden, and let the forage!
  • Being taught to be a good steward of what we had--this lesson for me wasn't directly about food or nature, but my mind drew those connections. We were taught to be wise managers of money. We were shown that we had our needs met, and that we didn't need our wants. We learned the difference between needs and wants...and that led to the understanding that there were a lot of things that we didn't need, and those resources could be shared. We didn't need a giant TV--the resources could be used for better purposes. We didn't need "more, better, faster"--we needed "enough," and so does everyone else. And, the only way to have that, is if we are good stewards of everything, especially the environment, so everyone has enough food, water, clean air, etc.

  • To love the environment, we have to learn to love something other than ourselves. Model sharing. Model wise management of money and resources. Model not being a consummate consumer. That opens the door to selflessness. At the same time, allow play out in nature ans show how nature can provide and that it is something to love and cherish and steward.  
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    In my own experience, and I believe that it's common for many people, my connection to nature started as a child playing outdoors, going on camping trips and simply being curious about the plants, animals and insects around me. Then my intellectual interest was developed as I read books from noted environmentalists. The seed of our connection to nature often comes from our emotional bond which is critical in developing a love for the natural world.

    I love this quote by Rachel Carson which speaks to the importance of first nurturing our feelings and experiences in nature, and then focusing on the intellectual teaching aspect. As Carson says: "I sincerely believe that for the child, and for the parent seeking to guide him, it is not half so important to know as to feel. If facts are the seeds that later produce knowledge and wisdom, then the emotions and the impressions of the senses are the fertile soil in which the seeds must grow." [Rachel Carson, "Help Your Child to Wonder." Woman's Home Companion. July 1956, p. 46].
    You would be much easier to understand if you took that bucket off of your head. And that goes for the tiny ad too!
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