Top positive review
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Long overdue and clear stetement of what kids need. Mud.
on 8 March 2010
It's a sad truth that the perople who really need to read this long-overdue book are the ones who never will. If you're reading this then, yes, this book does just wehat it ssays on the tin. Buy it!
This book covers so many things that concern society but which are ignored as, simply, there's no 'market' for this. Why are so many things in society getting worse? Why are people so damn miserable when they have so much better health, food and entertainment than their ancestors? Because there's something very simple and basic missing.
One thing to point out about this book is that it is NOT (To quote South Park) 'A load of Tree Hugging Hippie Cr*p' and it's not trying to 'Turn the clock back' or 'Deny progres'. It's a calmly assessed, properly researched book which points out what's increasingly missing in the lives of kids - and thus people -all over the globe.
Unlike our generation (By which, I mean, anyone old enough to be reading this review), todays kids of the Supermarket and Play Area never experience any kind of freedom in anything like 'nature'. They'll have been on trips to zoos and swimming pools, taken to other countries and seen more nature videos than we ever did, and they'll have had the whole gamut of ecological information rammed down their throats as something sad, responsible and Important, but the world of 'Nature' is merely academic knowledge, not a personal experience. They've never run randomly in a wood, climbing any tree they feel like, never laid in a bunch of grass staring at clouds or trying to catch crickets. They won't have just walked along an overgrown path, wacking stinging nettles with a stick. They'll have missed out on the value of mucking about with nature - that it doesn't include Words. Just raw experience, life, joy and learning self esteem through... mucking about.
Those kids are the adults of the Future. The ones running the world when you're in a home, and they'll make the decisions of what happens to this world. A world which doesn't know the value of these experiences is one which lacks, not simply joy and an appreciation of this but also of the awe which underlies any decent person, whether expressed in science or religion. The words 'Nature deficit Disorder' is a masterstroke. It needs a pseudo-medical term to get noticed nowadays and this is just the one to articulate something that most of us have increasingly felt in our bones and to open up the topic for discussion.
The sad truth is that there is no place in the world of business for the simple experience of kids mucking about ("Communing" is far too serious a word for kids) with nature. The 'stranger danger' hysteria, the winnowing away of experience due to 'No win no fee' obsession with insurance, loss of natural spaces with our exploding population, the commodification of 'Nature', the mass of consumer play, the completely controlled nature of today's 'car-ferried;' kids and the fact that they simply don't know what do do with a stick, some leaves and some mud has all added up to a childhood determined by advertising and directed consumption. This book shows how damaging this has become.
As a person, I've waited for decades for this book to be published. As a father, I know it's a book that is too late and too obscure (It's not on Daytime TV) for most kids today.
If you're reading this review now (Go you!) then you could do with the book to reasure yourself that, yes, it is the problem you fear it to be and you can make your kids lives better with it's insights. Mainly, however, you need to buy it to give to the parents whose kid never steps out of a car except to go to some sort of child-based business. THET'RE the ones that need this.
This is a book that should be made into a TV dosumentary (Only BBC or C4 would make it), so more people can consider it. Better still, it should be a basis for Government Policy. That it's asking for a recognition for Value rather than Money makes this tragically unlikely.
Buy the thing. You reading it is the best present your kids could have.
Now go and take them to somewhere with mud.