I see curious hands, eyes full of questions, and strong desires to feel the softness of a rabbit. Children are reminding us that they’re interested in nature whenever the opportunities are provided. When they feel safe (in accompany of an expert), when invitation is sent (by creating the context), and when questions are pending to be investigated, children wish to be a part of the exploration too.
Edward Wilson in his biophilia theory is suggesting that humans have an innate affinity and emotional attraction to nature. That is, we are born with genetic coding and instincts to love nature and to be connected with nature. So is there any need to be worried that some children are disconnected from the natural world? If that’s genetic then there’s no need to be concerned.
This can be the old nature versus nurture debate. Wilson argues that our genetic disposition is weak and we need lots of contact to nurture our innate love, care, and interests.
A few days ago we visited the Children’s Museum to participate in a creepy crawly show where I took the above picture. I call it a show as it was still a show/display of animals, where the great presenter was bringing frogs, tarantulas and snakes out while sharing some great information about each with the audience. He allowed children to touch or see them from a close distance while the adults took pictures on their smart phones. We had been to his shows a couple of times and my daughter loved the last part the best, when the show was over, the big crowd had left, and only few children stayed to get closer to the animals; those who were not quite satisfied with the first part; those who wanted to hold each animal; those who were deeply curious and wondering how it would feel to let a tarantula crawl on their hands….
What have these children learned by being a part of this experience? What is left for them to further explore? What have they probably misunderstood?
How about the adults in the audience? I will not feel comfortable even to look at some of those animals when they’re in their natural environment; even after being a part of this show, I’m still scared touching any of them on my own. But I’ve learned about some of the magics in their struggles to survive in this small planet that we all share; I’ve learned which one could be dangerous to human; I became aware how some of my behaviours, actions, and choices can have a positive or negative impact on their fragile lives …That’s a lot for a half an hour animal show in a city museum.