At the end of the 20th century, Edward O. Wilson suggests that the natural world is the most information-rich environment people will ever encounter. One may argue that it’s less true in the second decade of the 21st century, when the virtual Wide World Web is storing a great amount of information that mankind holds. I’d like to disagree and think that humans being smarter to overlook the vast, unimaginable, perhaps infinite information that the natural environment holds.
Let’s look very carefully at the above photo of my daughter, at age 6, in our favorite natural trail not too far from our home in early spring. The photo shows an ordinary moment of a young child spontaneously deciding to go off the track to cross a narrow stream.
Rauz: Can I do this?
My permission is the starting point for her thinking, planning, and acting:
How can I do it? It is now the time to test my factual understanding and knowledge of this environment against the reality, my empirical experience.
What do I need to carefully consider?
I need to check the branches and the broken logs to see how strong and firm they are to carry my weight. What if the branches are wet and slippery?
I have to check the soil/ground, because it is wet and it might be less hard and not stable enough to hold my weight.
Do I need to hold on my hands to something or can I keep my balance without this? How strong is this tiny thin tree that I am holding on to? Can it carry my weight?
What if I fall? Am I going to get hurt? How bad? How about getting wet?
How can I estimate the height? How much power do I need to lift up my body?
I’m too young to know how to define gravity, but all my above questions about my weight are about gravity. I am calculating and examining the concept of gravity. I am first-hand experiencing it in this simple desire and determination of crossing a small stream.
Based on her pervious direct experiences, Rauz is starting with some understadning and information about that small piece of nature that she is examining. Her prior knowledge with the new experiences would answer many of the above questions, but will also generate more questions and interests for other inquiries and experimentation.
At the end, I think my experience of observing my young daughter’s interaction with nature once again highlights Richar Louv’s saying in his book The Nature Principle:
“The future will belong to the nature-smart—those individuals, families, businesses, and political leaders who develop a deeper understanding of the transformative power of the natural world and who balance the virtual with the real. The more high-tech we become, the more nature we need.”