Bruft

Personally, I am in favour of the removal of words referred to nature in the Oxford Junior Dictionary to make room for words related to the web.

One thing that worries me about education is that children are taught about a world that does not exist anymore. When I was a child myself, in rural Northern Italy, nature around me was already gravely depleted by intensive agriculture and hunting.  No streams (industrialized canals instead), no trees, no wild animals. In order to see an old tree you had to go to the city, by car, and walk in the park. That was where we were brought by our science teacher, who wanted to show us some trees, for the sake of science. Animals, all domestic of course, including the pheasants that were released for hunting, were all dead, or caged and scheduled to die in the near future. And yet lessons and books were about rabbits hopping around, bees drawing circles in the air, grazing cows, the woods. Where were they? I came to the conclusion that is was a world of fantasy, just like in fairy tales.

It was only many years later that I discovered that by traveling, not necessarily very far but mostly in muddy conditions, I could reach some marginal, residual pockets of reality where all those things from the books still existed, albeit in complicated, threatened conditions.

In my thirties, I saw my first kingfisher. I saw a wild wolf. A wild bear. Five wild bears actually, three of them grizzly. I haven’t met a wild river otter yet, but I had the opportunity to observe a fairly good number of sea otters.

I basically spend my free time inside fairly tales, you see, that’s why I talk about Vladimir Propp obsessively.

I never understood why I was taught about a world that did not exists anymore. Laziness of the society I suppose. So I applaud this initiative to make education about the world we actually live in. It will save children a lot of suffering and trouble, especially because they won’t need to also learn the expressions “brink of extinction”, “loss of habitat”.

After all, these days cows are mostly kept indoors, which makes the word pasture completely useless. Knowing it could even raise strange questions with disturbing answers, so better not mention it to the young minds. On the other hand, blogs do exist, they exist big time, I myself am blogging right now, I’m certainly not sitting in the middle of a stupid pasture.

gauld

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