Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Mr. Harn's Paradox (and my response)

I just read a thought provoking post over at The Countryside Round blog of Casey Harn (who some of you may remember from Wandering Owl Outside fame).  Mr Harn's post raises an interesting question that I've rehashed a thousand times in different ways while getting my degrees in Conservation Social Science and Wilderness Management.  What is the best way to protect a resource?  Close it off from the public, or open it up and educate the public? 


As an environmental educator and blogger I feel some of the same struggles when doing my job, or writing for this blog.  As a naturalist I am supposed to tell children to stay on the trails, don't pick flowers, and leave the acorns, rock, leaves on the ground but I just can't do it.  Which does more harm to the resource?  Protecting it from the children?  Or fostering a curiosity about the resource by telling them to get off the trails, pick the flowers, take home the rocks, acorns and leaves.


I lean toward the former being more harmful in the long run because of how I was raised.  I am passionate about the outdoors because I was allowed (or rather encouraged) to fully explore the fields, streams, and woodlands and to immerse myself in nature.


Am I doing the wrong thing?  I know what I think.  I want to hear from you... (and be sure to let Mr. Harn know your thoughts at The Countryside Round too!)

10 comments:

Casey said...

Hi Norseman! I think overall/big picture, that you are 100% right. Education is the way to go because that will lead to awareness, which leads to other things that will help conserve the wilds.

I think most of my dilemna today may have to with all of the marketing of the outdoors, especially on the internet, where you can get a feeling that it's there to make a buck, and that is dangerous (to my way of thinking). Of course, it's all supposed to generate revenue for conservation, so that is good thing, but it comes with the bad, too. Like the un-educated.

Thanks for your view and I hope others will chime in.

Shelley said...

I say let the children touch nature to their heart's content. Parent's say "no" a hundred times a day, nature and the outdoors is a great way to say "yes". Learning about how to protect/care for nature will come later naturally if they are allowed to love it.

Kellie E said...

Children and young at heart should be allowed to touch and surround themselves with nature, but they can also practice restraint. This is part of the education. There is no need to trample and pick at nature. We can touch it, smell it, see it, hear it...and in that experience we can be taught how to respect it, so that others can touch, smell,see, hear it.

Le Loup said...

I gave my sons a fox terrier and told them to go enjoy themselves in the woods. They built camps and shelters, collected rocks of interest, and I think I did the right thing. That is how I was brought up.

Shannan said...

The more children are immersed in something and given a chance to participate, learn, feel, touch, and experience it, the more likely they are to respect it and want to take care of it.

Deus Ex Machina said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Deus Ex Machina said...

I believe that education is a start, but a true appreciation comes from becoming a part of it. We, my family and I, are part of a monthly class that teaches outdoor skills ... native/survival skills. I feel like there is no greater way to learn to respect something, to really care for and about it, is to live with it. If you have consciously cut down a sapling that will not survive because of crowding and then use it for some purpose with respect and intent, you have to develop an immense appreciation for its worth and value, not in terms of money but rather in terms of beauty, generosity, spirit .... I, for me, it is about living as a part of nature and not in nature ... subtly difference perhaps.

Murphyfish said...

Hi Norseman,
With a good nights rest and a somewhat clearer mind I've given the question some thought. After yours and Casey's pieces and their comments have been fully digested I've come to add my tuppence worth, although I'm probably the least qualified in experience to add to the discussion here! The comment has become overlong, so like good self I've posted it upon my musings.
John

Pete said...

Everyone here is saying the right thing! 100% Agreed!

Sticks65 said...

The best education is to allow the children to play in and with nature,to teach them respect for nature but to also let them have fun and roll around in the leaves.

I think you are doing the right thing.