Thursday, May 12, 2005
Paging through the June '05 issue of Outside Magazine, I spotted a brief article by Bruce Barcott reviewing three recently published books. It caught my eye because it's about the value of spending time outside (one of the ideas I feel strongly about). The article talks mostly about children and summer camps, but it could easily be extended to college students, even many adults in America, and of course to what we do at Castle Rock.
I wanted to mention the book by Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder (Algonguin Books, 2005). He goes so far as to claim that children, and I would add all of us, are more likely to experience physical, emotional, and other psychological problems when we become too isolated from the natural world. Being inside, plugged in somehow, is too easily a sedentary, isolating, and limited way of life. As Barcott puts it, "kids who are alienated from the natural world are often short on confidence, creativity, and intelligence, and more likely to be depressed, distracted, and overweight." Certainly being alienated from the complexities and diversity of nature is not the sole cause of these common modern afflictions, but Louv has written about their role as contributing factors. Living with a deficit of time outdoors frequently leads to a type of "disorder."
If all this makes sense, then we might say traditional college and university programs likewise provide only a narrow and incomplete way of education. Ordinary college life neglects important aspects of who we are when it is concerned primarily with intellectual issues, virtual realities, ideal relationships, principles and theories, and when it accomplishes most of this inside and away from nature.
I mentioned before the importance of living a sensuous life, and how being outside contributes to that. With Louv's books, we could add how being outside does more; it helps contribute to our overall psychological health.