Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Local school takes natural approach

Lancaster Steiner School is to run an open day at the end of this month, intended to what's seen as a growing lack of awareness of the natural world, which may damage children.

Recent research commissioned by the National Trust (PDF link) highlights that British children are exhibiting signs of a modern phenomenon called ‘Nature Deficit Disorder’. This is caused by a lack of engagement with the natural world and can lead to diminished use of the senses, attention difficulties, and higher rates of physical and emotional illnesses among other symptoms.

Steiner education encourages active engagement with the natural world and the local school is inviting parents to an open day to find out more. 

"We welcome the National Trust report, as an active engagement with the natural world is an important aspect of Steiner Waldorf education," commented Denise Randall, Kindergarten teacher at Lancaster Steiner School. "In the early years, the young child is given every opportunity to play outside, to explore and make use of natural materials and to experience the outdoor as a familiar environment, full of wonder and possibility.

"Throughout the primary school years Steiner teachers look for opportunities to link classroom learning to the outside environment," she continud. "The study of house building and farming at age nine may involve the making of clay bricks or the hands-on experience of farming techniques.

"Chemistry lessons at age 12 may involve the building of kilns to make charcoal or lime; physics lessons may involve green-wood turning or practical engineering solutions that take children out of the classroom and into the natural world.’

Gisela Renolds, a parent, said: "I like the fact that screen entertainment (TVs and computers) are not thrust at children in the Steiner school, but that the use of stories, the celebration of seasonal festivals and a curriculum that includes botany, geology and animal study all support the appreciation of nature I would like to see in more children."

The National Trust commissioned lifelong naturalist Stephen Moss to produce the report Nature Deficit Disorder: Causes and Consequences. Moss is one of Britain’s leading nature writers. As the original producer of the BBC series Springwatch, author of numerous books including The Bumper Book of Nature, and father of five, he has a longstanding personal commitment to ensuring all children have the chance to form a connection with nature.

•  The open day will take place at the school on Lune Road, 2.30 – 4.30pm on Friday 27th April. Web: www.lancastersteiner.org.uk

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