Professionals in the UK are pushing for the introduction of a natural history General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) to help fight against Nature Deficit Disorder.
The current generation of children is experiencing the outside world in a way like no other generation before it. By that, we mean that it is barely experiencing it at all. For the most part, children today prefer to stay indoors, watching TV shows and playing video games. Not that previous generations didn't do that too, but there's no question the balance is now significantly off.
The statistics to prove it are pretty damning. According to The Times, research conducted in 2016 suggests that three-quarters of children in the UK spend less time outdoors than prisoners. That same study also discovered one in nine British children had not visited a park, forest, beach or any other natural environment for at least 12 months.
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The amount of time children are spending inside is causing something being commonly referred to as "Nature Deficit Disorder". The belief by many is that it is no coincidence almost a quarter of children in the UK suffer from a mental health issue such as depression or anxiety. Something has to change in order to counteract these trends. MP Caroline Lucas and natural history writer Mary Colwell think they know what might start that change in motion.
Lucas and Colwell have met up with Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in the UK, this week. Their suggestion to Gove is to introduce a natural history GCSE into the British curriculum. Not a normal subject with lessons and an exam, but one that will get students and pupils out into nature to see what they're missing.
Whether Gove likes the idea or not, it will only be the first of many steps needed to reverse the effects of Nature Deficit Disorder. Since the above research undertaken in 2016, the number of children choosing video games over playing outside will have only increased. Perhaps getting them outside starting at school in an interactive way will spark something inside them that results in a bigger change down the road.