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Why Sustainability Is an Early Childhood Issue

by Ruth Wilson
March/April 2020
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Article Link: https://www.childcareexchange.com/article/why-sustainability-is-an-early-childhood-issue/5025216/

Save or Savor?

I was once asked if we should be saving or savoring the natural world. The question seems to suggest that we need to choose one or the other. I sense a similar concern when I am sometimes asked if sustainability should be introduced at the early childhood level. I hear comments about the need to focus environmental education with young children on a sense of wonder versus “saving the Earth.” I believe it should be both, because this, too, is not a binary choice. I probably would not use the word “sustainability” with preschool children, nor tell them to save the Earth. I would, however, focus on both saving and savoring the natural world, because that is in the best interests of children and Planet Earth. 

I build my argument, in part, around the concept of biophilia—that is, the human urge to affiliate with other forms of life (Wilson, 1984). Since the biophilia hypothesis was first introduced into academic literature, the concept has been applied to many areas of life, including mental health (Capaldi et al., 2015; White & Heerwagen, 2013), education (Duhn, 2012; Stavrianos, 2016), health care (Weinberger et al., 2017), and city planning (Clearly et al., 2017). ...

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