Reviewed by Jean Worsley
Retired Biology Teacher
In this book readers will encounter a naturalist’s formidable perspective about the importance of strengthening the bond between mankind and nature in order to sustain viable ecosystems on our planet. The introduction sets the parameters for nature–bonding. Beginning with personal experiences in childhood to which readers will relate, the author vividly describes how he developed a love of nature.
In addition, a wealth of activities for young children and adults are provided that are designed to increase an awareness, interest, and compassion for our natural world. Further, several recommendations for implementation of nature–centered educational programs and examples of successful programs are presented. Also included are factors that impede the implementation of nature–centered initiatives and the role that families and governmental agencies can play in this endeavor.
The book is organized into three major parts: Connecting with Nature, and Ecological Approach–Goals, Activities, Field Trips, Nature Stories, Nature’s Driving Force for Change; Nature Bonding: Impedimenta and Hopeful Prospects; and Suggestions for Some Educational Priorities. Throughout the book, the author uses textboxes, pictures, diagrams, drawings, graphs, journals, and stories to further illustrate the urgency of bonding with nature.
The stage is set for early interaction with nature in Part One. Numerous activities are presented that will pique the imagination and curiosity of students and lead to a greater involvement with nature. They are designed to strengthen process skills such as writing, observing, taking notes, mapping, collecting data, making predictions, and drawing conclusions. An entire chapter focuses on the value of a major nature bonding process—field trips. In this discussion, emphasis is placed on the need for thorough planning and safety. It also includes examples, numerous drawings, a sample field report, and quotes from environmentalists. To fully comprehend basic concepts of nature–bonding, an understanding of natural phenomena and natural selection that drive ecosystems is believed to be essential. Partnerships in the community with established nature–bonding programs are invaluable tools in achieving this goal.
Part Two reveals caveats and positive ideas about sustaining ecosystems. Moreover, elements that tend to impede progress are a lack of education, overpopulation, overuse, and attitudes that humans have toward their relationship with nature. An in–depth discussion of global initiatives to control population growth and governmental initiatives that were never enacted are highlighted. Ecological illiteracy is believed to be perpetuated due to isolation in science classes and the author suggests that we use our broad educational network to incorporate ecology in the total curriculum. Further, resources that are already in place to deal with our lingering problem of man’s relationship to nature are brought to the forefront.
Educational responses outlined in Part Three focus on the need to establish nature–centered programs. The author reiterates the fact that ecological principles should have an interdisciplinary approach. It is noted that a nature–centered curriculum reinforces creative thinking, critical thinking, and problem solving skills which coincide with current trends in education. A succinct discussion of training teachers is included. The author states that successful nature–centered programs require enthusiasm and commitment from teachers.
A clarion call is made to throw down the gauntlet to increase efforts for mankind to live in harmony with nature and one another. Further, this awesome challenge can only be achieved if all segments of our society (scientific, religious, cultural, economic, and political) embrace the urgency of establishing a "nature–centered worldview.” Profound changes in attitudes and actions are also needed. The author states that he believes that his vision of a “nature–centered” approach to education could be the salvation for humanity’s future.
The book ends with a Summary of Activities and Acknowledgments. In the Appendix, a list of successful models for teaching nature study is found. An extensive reading list and index are also included. I feel that this book is an excellent resource for educators and parents because it has numerous activities that promote an understanding of ecological principles and hopefully will foster positive attitudes and actions toward nature.
Review posted on 4/25/2012