British children’s ignorance about wildlife

This video says about itself:

Blue tit leaving nest-box (first time)- on mother’s instructions.

From British daily The Independent:

Attenborough alarmed as children are left flummoxed by test on the natural world

By Sarah Cassidy, Education Correspondent

Friday, 1 August 2008

Could you or your children identify a Goldfinch?

Children have lost touch with the natural world and are unable to identify common animals and plants, according to a survey.

Half of youngsters aged nine to 11 were unable to identify a daddy-long-legs [see also here and here], oak tree, blue tit or bluebell, in the poll by BBC Wildlife Magazine. The study also found that playing in the countryside was children’s least popular way of spending their spare time, and that they would rather see friends or play on their computer than go for a walk or play outdoors.

The survey asked 700 children to identify pictured flora and fauna. Just over half could name bluebells, 54 per cent knew what blue tits were and 45 per cent could identify an oak. Less than two-thirds (62 per cent) identified frogs and 12 per cent knew what a primrose was.

Children performed better at identifying robins (95 per cent) and badgers, correctly labelled by nine out of 10.

Sir David Attenborough warned that children who lack any understanding of the natural world would not grow into adults who cared about the environment. “The wild world is becoming so remote to children that they miss out,” he said, “and an interest in the natural world doesn’t grow as it should. Nobody is going protect the natural world unless they understand it.”

Education has become full of faddish business studies, management studies, etc.

British wildife watching increasingly popular: here.

1 thought on “British children’s ignorance about wildlife

  1. Canadian kids can name Yoda, but not barn owl
    Survey finds knowledge of nature hurt by too much screen time

    Misty Harris, Canwest News Service

    Published: 2:04 am 11 August 2008

    After nearly five decades of spotlighting Canadian wildlife, Hinterland Who’s Who is turning its cameras on indigenous creatures of a different stripe: children.

    Beginning next month, the new “Get Out” vignettes will call attention to the critical need for Canadian young people to get off line and outdoors.

    The effort, part of a national, multi-agency movement to combat “nature deficit disorder,” comes on the heels of a CRTC study that found Canadians in 2007 watched an average of 26.8 hours of television per week and increased their Internet usage from 11.7 to 13.4 hours a week.

    The implications of increased screen time are spelled out in a new report by U.K. conservation agency National Trust, which reveals today’s children are more likely to identify Star Wars characters by name than the insects, animals and birds in their own backyards.

    Of the 1,651 youngsters aged 10 to 12 surveyed, half couldn’t tell the difference between a bee and a wasp, less than half recognized a barn owl, and barely more than a quarter could spot a magpie.

    About 90 per cent, however, correctly identified Yoda and Jar Jar Binks.

    “If you look at how much time kids spend watching television and movies versus how much time they spend outdoors or in the classroom concentrating on wildlife and nature, nobody should be really surprised (by the survey results),” says Debbie Griff, program manager of HWW, an initiative of the Canadian Wildlife Federation and Environment Canada.

    “Get Out” will be aired in short television spots starting in September, with full-length videos being distributed online in an effort to reach Canada’s ever-wired youth.

    “The message is just to get out and see wildlife. It’s all around us,” says Griff. “We’re trying to get people to understand that it’s not that complicated.”

    Two-thirds of parents surveyed by National Trust blamed their own lack of nature know-how on spending too little time with their families outdoors.

    Although there’s no parallel research in Canada, experts here agree that nature deficit disorder in children begins with the people raising them.

    “Kids are a reflection of society,” says Ted Cheskey, a conservation ecologist with Nature Canada.

    Cheskey believes young people’s dearth of environmental knowledge stems directly from “a failure in parenting” — that is, the decision to put video games, keyboards and remote controls in children’s hands instead of introducting to the world of insects, animals and other elements of nature.

    “We get our kicks from sitting in front of a screen rather than actually feeling something,” says Cheskey, who for 22 years worked as an outdoor educator.

    “It’s an illusion that we can replace real experiences with vicarious ones. Nature shows are great, but they certainly can’t replace spending time outside.”

    Sandra OpdenKamp, program manager of Alberta’s John Janzen Nature Centre, says parents are the greatest challenge in getting kids outdoors.

    “Wherever they go, they rely a lot on the entertainment being provided for (their kids),” explains OpdenKamp.

    “It’s intimidating for parents to go into an area where they may not be knowledgeable about the things they might see — they don’t want to look bad in front of their kids — and where they need to create some of their own entertainment.”

    Although she credits the wide knowledge of many of the 20,000 young people who annually visit the Centre, OpdenKamp says their savvy tends to come from electronic sources rather than hands-on experience.

    “It’s something just for them to equate berries as something that don’t come from the grocery store,” she says.

    “They know they’ve eaten them before, but they’ve never made the connection that they might walk outside and find these things.”


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