Our Children Deserve Environmental Education
According to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation:
A recent study found that children today spend an average of 6 hours each day in front of the computer and TV but less than 4 minutes a day in unstructured outdoor play, leading researchers to discover a new condition specific to this current generation that they have called “nature deficit disorder.” This extreme emphasis of indoor time spent in front of screens versus outdoor play and discovery has been correlated with negative psychological and physical effects including obesity, loneliness, depression, attention problems and greater social isolation due to reduced time with friends and family.
Our children deserve much better.
An unintended consequence of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) emphasis on math and reading is that more and more schools are leaving environmental education behind. Many schools have abandoned environmental education programs to invest more time and resources in math and reading instruction.
Fortunately, a new bill in Congress seeks to address this. The No Child Left Inside Act of 2007 amends the No Child Left Behind law (NCLB) in the following ways:
- Provides federal funding to states to train teachers in environmental education and to operate model environmental education programs, which include outdoor learning.
- Provides funding to states that create environmental literacy plans to ensure that high school graduates are environmentally literate.
- Provides funding through an environmental education grant program to build state and national capacity.
- Re-establishes the Office of Environmental Education within the U.S. Department of Education.
These measures will go a long way toward giving environmental education the standing and attention it deserves in our schools.
What can you do to help?
- San Francisco Chronicle: “Young and Wired”
- Mediafamily.org: “Media Use and Obesity among Children”
- USA Today: “Effects of TV on Kids becoming Less Remote”
- Salon.com: “Do Today’s Kids Have Nature Deficit Disorder?”