Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Nature IQ

What is your nature IQ?  I mean, what do you know about nature and how did you learn it?

I was raised in a big city with few real nature experiences while my husband grew up in a rural setting and spent most of his childhood in the woods. I have been trying to catch up with him ever since we met.  I love nature, don't get me wrong, but that is a different question.

Recently I took my 2 year old granddaughter for a walk in the woods.  As we headed down the path she pointed to the edge of the trail and said, "That's moss!"

She was right.  My husband had pointed it out to her weeks earlier.  The reason for her correct identification and familiarity with nature struck me.  I had been in a third grade classroom working with students out of field guides.  One of the guides mentioned moss, and several of the students said they didn't know what that was.

What did this 2 year old have that the third graders did not??  A nature IQ.  And how did she get it.....I would say, direct experiences with nature.  There is no substitute.  But haven't the third graders been outdoors where moss occurred?  Probably.  In this case, the difference was the presence of an adult that fostered the appreciation and knowledge of what was in plain sight.

In the words of Rachel Carson, "“If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder without any such gift from the fairies, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in.”

My granddaughter knows moss (and a whole lot more). But what she doesn't yet know is this: she is lucky to have had the companionship of an adult who shared with her the mystery of the natural world.  One day, she will know this.  Right now, all she knows is the fun she has with "pa pa".