There is nothing quite like a good summer read and here are two book recommendations I’d like to share with you. Out on the porch, on the beach, by the pool, under a park tree, wherever you might find yourself reading is just a little bit sweeter in the summertime (as are most things). This summer, one of my early reads was The Great Animal Orchestra: Finding the Origins of Music in the World’s Wild Places by Bernie Krause. I discovered this book watching Bernie Krause’s TED talk (https://www.ted.com/talks/bernie_krause_the_voice_of_the_natural_world) In this book, Bernie shares his adventures in listening, among them being thrown 15 feet through the jungle by a gorilla and finding himself within too close a range to a hungry Jaguar. Although, we may not be putting ourselves in such places in the Outdoor Program, Bernie teaches us just how incredibly important it is to listen. Bernie shares this in his book:
“I am reminded of the question posed by the eighteenth-century philosopher George Berkeley: “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” It seems that Berkeley must have assumed the only acoustically sentient beings were human. This limited focus, centered on the human world, has remained – and maintained itself as a chasm between most of us and nature. The question is: Can we learn to reconnect to the wild through listening?”
-Bernie Krause, The Great Animal Orchestra
This quote spoke to me in such a way that I quickly marked the page and wrote it in this post. The importance of listening to wild things, natural settings and the general world around us is something that needs to be emphasized in all schools around the country. We need to teach our students to listen. The benefits that go hand in hand with a person who can truly listen are extraordinary. Bernie goes on to quote one of the leaders in nature based education, Richard Louv:
“In Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder, Richard Louv wrote: ‘Not that long ago, the sound track of a young person’s days and nights was composed largely of the notes of nature. Most people were raised on the land, worked the land, and were often buried on the same land. The relationship was direct.’…When we fine-tune our listening neurons early on, the skill and openness to the experience – like riding a bicycle or swimming – tend to stay with us, especially if we dust them off every now and then.”
I truly believe in these two quotes. I hope you watch Bernie Krause on the TED stage. I will be continuing my reading with another Richard Louv book, The Nature Principle: Reconnecting with Life in a Virtual Age, in hopes of better understanding the delicate balance between engaging and connecting our students with nature, while still teaching them to use technology and prepare them for the technological world.
I hope you are all enjoying the beautiful sounds of summer, listening and gearing up for the start of the school year. But, mostly just enjoying the lasting sounds of summer.