Thursday, July 31, 2008


Re: First Art.

The Jell-O fingerpaint recipe: a little gritty and sticky, but worth a second try.

The cornstarch paint recipe: pretty easy, once you amend the recipe by reversing the amounts given for the cornstarch and the water. But requires a LOT of food coloring to make real color on the paper.

Freezer paper for fingerpainting: excellent.

Last Child in the Woods, by Richard Louv: interesting. The thesis is too simplistic to suit me, but even so I don't disagree with everything Louv is arguing. The main point seems to be (I hedge because I'm only half-done) that all this technology stuff defining our lives and environments nowadays has led to our children suffering from "nature-deficit disorder." No free play, no natural environments. A lot of reminiscing about his own past prowess at building tree houses. A lot of lamenting today's children's lack of tree house expertise. I find the appeal to "nature" problematic, but I can agree that divorcing self from physical locatedness, one's own body, and the connectedness of our physical world is detrimental. But this is an issue of embodiment, not an issue of "Nature."


kel said...

if you care to elaborate...i'd be interested to hear your reason for an appeal to nature being problematic. to me, it's the opposite of problematic. i understand god as creator easier than any other of the godly roles. does that make sense? to me, an appeal to nature is recognition of god's handprint in the physical world. to me that idea is clarifying, but i'd be curious to hear how the same thing could be problematic to another person.

perhaps every solution is also a problem in another sense.

jduckbaker said...

I just read Louv's book. I didn't really enjoy it until I got to the Jungle Blackboard section, and still it was a little too sentimental for application for me, sometimes. I am intrigued though, by the rise of this philosophy, and place-based education, along with the growing surge of local eating and supporting small farms. There seems to be a shift occurring. I thought I was being different, but I think I might be caught up in the swell of change.

JTB said...

sorry for the long delay. it's hard to find time nowadays for commenting thoughtfully--all serious computer time, there being so little of it, is dissertation. not even breaks for email!

anyhow, the appeal to nature is problematic IMO because nature is too slippery to define usefully. it tends to be set in opposition to human society or culture or technology--and once you start looking at the opposition, it's clear that there's no sharp dividing line btw "nature" and those things. human beings, the creators of society, culture, technology are themselves part of society, culture, technology are also. Louv seems to be aware of the term's problematic aspects, but chooses to craft his own (IMO rather vague) working definition, and use it anyhow. But, in his defense, he does resist a simplistic urban=bad, rural=good mindset, instead arguing that urban landscapes can contain their own "wild" (i.e., natural or at least analog to natural) spaces. Personally, I think he could have crafted a stronger argument by avoiding the word nature altogether, and instead arguing that what kids need, and don't get, is unstructured space & time. This is his main claim in any case, because it is this that "nature" is supposed to provide.

thanks for the comment. it's always helpful to stop and think over the assertions that come glibly, like "of course the appeal to nature is problematic."