by Jieyu Wang, Wang Yiling, iChongqing
Chongqing — The third Sino-German international forum on natural education kicked off in Wulong Fairy Mountain on August 18 by “Treetop Walk” Natural Education Camp. The topic of the conference is taking children to the outdoors and sustainable development living. At the end of the forum, it also held the opening ceremony of the Sino-German natural education academy, which aims to study the connection and restoration between children and nature.
The forum invited 12 media and education industry guests from German, UK, America, and China and delivered speeches about developing the program. Through learning from other countries’ natural education practice and teaching methods, the forum aimed to advocate more parents and children to go outdoors together and have more positive relationships and interactions with nature.
Natural education takes the natural environment as the background and uses scientific and practical methods to integrate children into nature. “According to systematic methods, children can effectively collect and organize natural information and form an educational process of effective logical thinking in social life.” Sheng Qingfeng, CEO of Treetop Walk Natural Education Camp, told us.
There are many different concepts of natural education around the world, such as “forest education” in Germany, “camp education” in America and “community education” in Japan. However, natural education is an original product of China.
Sheng explained, “This is because China’s natural education more emphasizes that people should care about nature rather than plunder or trample on it. Through natural education, people will strengthen the awareness of caring for nature and protecting nature, so that people can consciously and subtly protect nature.”
The concept of Nature-deficit disorder originates from the American author Ricard Louv’s bestselling book last child in the woods. The nature-deficit disorder is not a condition requiring a doctor’s diagnosis or medication, but a dangerous phenomenon in today’s society.
It is worth noting that with the urbanization and modernization of cities, the green land decreased gradually, and children who born in the city are isolated from nature. Nature-Deficit disorder is a common feature of these children. It is manifested in the fact that these children tend to stay at home to play games and watch TV in the room, causing more negative situations such as obesity, poor physical fitness, poor social skills, lack of subjective initiative and innovation ability.
“Most children in the world today grow up deprived of the context of nature, and they don’t know where the food comes from and where the wastes go. So, they don’t think about the consequence when they throw rubbish away. Moreover, this will encourage an attitude of disrespect to nature. Nowadays, in our world, many people have a mental illness, and I think many of those problems caused by people disconnected from nature,” said Alan Watson Featherstone, an ecologist from Scotland. He devoted himself to lead volunteers to restore the Caledonian forest in Scotland for more than 30 years.
Chad Swope, a wildlife camp specialist from the United States, has led a team with children to learn more about nature for more than 20 years. He told us, “when my two years old niece, who born in New York, first came back to her hometown Lowa, I felt heartbroken because she even didn’t know what grass was and this was the first time for her to get close to a large lawn. This is the time when I realized I have to strive to get children to get back to nature and to live a healthier life.”
We have learned the “Treetop walk “Natural Education is an interactive, experiential camp that integrates German nature education and American elite camp education. The “Treetop Walk” is aimed at the children with “nature-deficit disorder” in China. Seizing the golden education period of children aged 3-12, “Treetop Walk” effectively combines tourism, sports, education, and nature to train children’s sensory integration training, and improve their emotional intelligence and cultivate their lateral thinking ability.
“Treetop Walk” has held an annual Sino-German international forum on natural education since 2017. They aim to introduce the latest European natural education concepts, thereby build a global natural education resource integration and academic exchange platform, and continuously promote the development of China’s natural education.