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Environmental Education for Children – World Environment Day 2021

Ruskin Bond This

Decoding Experiential learning in children through the eyes of Ruskin Bond

“Live close to nature and your spirit will not be easily broken. For you learn something of patience and resilience. You will not grow restless, and you will never feel lonely.”

I remember walking on a beautiful nature trail in Sanjay Van, Tanda Forest Range of Uttarakhand in the magnificent Western Himalayas during one of my Nature Park visits from school. Two scenes stood out in my mind: the calm trail I walked onto and the rich biodiversity of the area. Experiencing the natural world first hand with the field exposure and guided tour, I let nature inside me grow into a budding flower of curiosity and happiness.

“If you have the ability, or rather the gift, of being able to see beauty in small things, then life holds few terrors.”

I went on to study local flora and fauna with the spirit of a little adventurer inside of me blissfully bound from my beautiful surroundings and its related lessons. Watching my first waterfall and first rhododendron flower near my village, this filled my heart with immense joy in creating further possibilities to study the natural world through very keen observation.

“I like flowers. In my next life, maybe I can be a gardener.”

Taking the lessons from the natural world, I acted upon to assimilate nature in me to a higher level by grouping with other similarly passionate fellows to decode the connectedness I felt with our mother earth. Spending time in the green surroundings, under the sky I discovered a part of me is growing with the trees and flowers that are sitting in my backyard. I was so ready to climb that tree and move forward in life as a representation of some part of this natural world.

“Slow down, there isn’t always a train to catch. Make your walk as long and leisurely as possible, and you will find that the world you thought ugly is full of lovely little surprises.”

I realized the chaos of the human mind and the chaos we have created by not being able to put our collective and correct attention on the core of keeping the natural systems and their cycles intact. I saw different shades of artificial contamination assimilating into the ecological cycles of our beautiful planet. Human realizations filled with the motive of effective altruism and collective good creates a vast universe of sustainability and beauty. As long as we realize to create possibilities from nature in a balanced and effective way we can appreciate the little surprises it offers to us.

“He who has happy children is greater than a king. And he who spreads happiness outside his home is still greater.”

With the growing life lessons and its related dealings, I realized that the part of nature which was growing with me was there holding on to life even in the dark and gloomy days. The values and lessons I reaped from nature lead me to grow into a young lady believing in extraordinary possibilities for myself and everyone out there!!! I was taught to respect every being for the very reason of the possibilities they have created for themselves as I had early on in my life. The curiosity inside me of understanding nature grew more into a giant ball of happiness and love for this beautiful natural world. 

“As a young man I planted a seed. In old age I reap the rewards: a wild cherry tree covered with pale pink blossoms, and a little yellow sunbird, emitting a squeaky little song, flitting from branch to branch.”

The goal of living a happy life has certainly something to do with living close to nature, taking a child into the lap of mountains and rivers would help him/her to grow into a more compassionate being. I think that’s what we need in this era of nukes, hatred, and insensitive magnification of human-created systems. A healthy, happy, and balanced future is what every man aspires for. 

Will such experiential learning take a leap forward in creating a much connected and infused child towards the conservation of the natural world? It certainly motivated me to understand the different realms of life. I actualize to become one with nature and to assist in becoming a part of a grand solution. The solution lies in a more resilient society living in harmony with nature!

“One of life’s greatest pleasures is free. It lies in watching a plant grow-from seed to seedling, to green branch to bough, to flower to fruit.”

Are we free as an individual?? How can we measure that freedom??

Our very own thoughts, choices, and actions can help us to reach towards the path of our freedom! The little innocent activities of children in rescuing a bird’s chick from its broken nest, playing in the garden during summer holidays, exploring nature trails, and reading books on art, nature, and animals can be counted as freedom. This very freedom stays with the man for their whole life bringing beauty and peace within themselves.

Children’s Environmental Education is very much part of the solution in moving towards a sustainable future and in creating a more compassionate society. 

Therefore, authors like Ruskin Bond, Rachel Carson, Salim Ali can have a huge impact on young minds developing their core values, actions, and life skills. Participation in local volunteer events for nature conservation programs, nature walks, and talks can certainly contribute to building more curious minds.

That’s what the Children’s author Ruskin Bond is encouraging through his beautiful writings…

In India, not enough importance is given to writing for children. And what could be more important than the enrichment of young minds with great literature?     

  –Ruskin Bond

Time to think! : Is it high time to encourage our children to move towards experiential learning based on performing and reflection to reorient nature education as a new focus?

About the author: Himani Singh Khati is a Dehradun based researcher working in the Wildlife Institute of India. Her work includes ecological restoration, species conservation and community outreach in the Western Himalayas. 
For more information, email: [email protected]
*Note: All the quotes have been taken from Ruskin Bond books.
*Photo source: Deccan Herald and from personal collection.

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