The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


January 5, 2013

Nature deficit disorder

The last thing that our kids today need is another psycho-babble, 10-cent term about some disorder that is just a dressed-up excuse for bad behavior, lack of attention to details or the fact that they're just too fat.

When I introduced my theme of "No Child Left Indoors" for this coming year, I was just trying to build off of the success of last year's series that was themed, "Get Out Often."

The term "nature-deficit disorder" or NDD for short, is not new and I certainly didn't come up with it. It was coined by the author Richard Louv in his pivotal book "Last Child in the Woods" to describe what happens to young people who become disconnected from their natural world. In his book, Louv links this lack of getting outside to some of the most disturbing childhood trends, such as the rises in obesity, attention disorders, depression and possibly even the unspeakable tragedy in Newtown, Conn.

It's worthwhile to explain and understand the research and the ideas behind the notion of nature-deficit disorder and its origin because it's a key element to the no child left inside movement. Latching onto this research and the credibility of some very intelligent people will give a solid platform for this year-long series of articles. However, let me assure you that today's column is the last that will deal with clinical research and educational theory mumbo-jumbo. Because, you see, most if not all of this research and documentation was done indoors and our mission is to get outdoors. So here goes…According to Congressman John Sarbanes of Maryland, who was the author of the federal law that is attempting to tackle nature deficit disorder through our schools, "The No Child Left Inside Act increases environmental education opportunities for students across the country. These types of opportunities are essential to grow the next generation of scientists, promote environmental stewardship, and to encourage Americans to live healthier lifestyles. This is the balance that we're offering for schools that feel compelled to emphasize math and reading instruction over science and other subjects because of the 2002 federal No Child Left Behind law."

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