Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Moral Life of Babies

"A growing body of evidence, though, suggests that humans do have a rudimentary moral sense from the very start of life. With the help of well-designed experiments, you can see glimmers of moral thought, moral judgment and moral feeling even in the first year of life. Some sense of good and evil seems to be bred in the bone. Which is not to say that parents are wrong to concern themselves with moral development or that their interactions with their children are a waste of time. Socialization is critically important. But this is not because babies and young children lack a sense of right and wrong; it’s because the sense of right and wrong that they naturally possess diverges in important ways from what we adults would want it to be."

The idea of "what we adults would want it to be" is ever-present in what we choose for our children. Perhaps we have a "right" a "duty" to explicitly choose. I think we do...but why?

Here's where I think this argument of children and nature is rooted in:
We want to (re)connect children to nature. But this is not because babies and young children lack a sense of connection to nature; it's because the sense of connection that they naturally possess diverges in important ways from what we adults would want it to be...

Why do we want to connect children to nature?

How do we want the connection to be different than what they already naturally possess?

Is it necessary to "teach" children how to be in nature?

What will be lost if children don't connect to nature in the way that---
we adults would want it to be?

Friday, May 7, 2010

So...is it talking?

I make an effort to walk down blocks where children are outside, playing.
Yesterday, I'm glad I did.

I met Diona and Dante. Diona is 5, Dante, well he's in 3rd grade so let's say 9. They had a lot of questions for me: where do you live? are you a teacher? how do you spell your name? what's your full name?

The meeting made me smile, but more importantly it would lead to what happened today:

I approached "the block" and about 20 people, half adults, half children, are out enjoying the weather. I almost didn't walk down the block, feeling like I would be intruding... but then I saw Diona -- so I thought it was safe: I had a connection!

I hear a mom call out, "Stop pulling on that tree!"

Three kids, including Diona were destroying a tree on their block, pulling the leaves off and yanking at the low hanging branches until they touched the sidewalk...

The demand didn't seem to stop them.

Me: Hi Diona

She looks at me, pretty puzzled...
my hair is up and I just got back from a run and didn't look like I did the other day.

Diona: What's your name again?

Me: "Beth"

I lean in closely to her and her "cousins" who are tearing at the tree and whisper:

"Hey, you know, that tree is alive..."

Cousin 1: IT IS???!?! -he immediately lets go of the branch and drops the leaves from his hands. They hit the cement.

Me: Yeah...

Diona: So... is it talking...?

Me: Well, yea and I mean, I bet if we could hear it, it would say stop pulling on me and ripping off my leaves...

I got 2 out of the three kids to stop... they seemed pretty intrigued with the idea of that tree being alive...

But there was still one who didn't seem to be listening.

Me: Diona, who's this? pointing at the kid still using the tree as a see-saw

Diona: That's my cousin...

Me: Well, tell your cousin that this tree is alive...

I walk away... I mean, the moms are like, who is this girl?

I look back and hear:
Diona: Hey, stop pulling on that tree - it's alive!

By the time I got to the end of the block - they were no longer hanging on the tree.