Even though it is in final when most time is supposed to be spent with books, laptops, no matter in class room, library or dormitory, the time I spend outside seems to be even more. I like walking through campus watching playing squirrels, or sitting in the Route 21 looking outside along the Chestnut Street with no specific destination. This is final time, but also nature time.
Saying “nature” doesn’t necessarily mean the real natural environment, considering the reality in big cities. A park, a square, something open and green– they are all places attractive enough for people to get to. Breath, wander, and rest. If no chance to step outside, then just open your window. There are many reasons to explain why people like to be in an interior space with windows. Apart from ventilation, natural lighting, the windows shorten the distance between interior and exterior thus satisfies human’s need to be with nature. This corresponds with the phenomenon that the building with the most beautiful viewshed is usually most popular. Apart from scenery, windows are connected to an external world– you can enjoy the fresh air, sunlight and smell from it.
Researchers have found various benefits of spending time outside in natural environments, especially for kids. “Natural spaces and materials stimulate children’s limitless imaginations and serve as the medium of inventiveness and creativity,” says Robin Moore, an international authority on the designs of children’s play and learning environments. For example, in Sweden, Australia, Canada and the United States, studies of children in schoolyards with both green areas and manufactured play areas found that children engaged in more creative forms of play in the green areas. Time outside in natural environments also stimulates cognitive functioning. Howard Gardner, a professor of education at Harvard University, argued that the traditional notion of intelligence, based on I.Q. testing, was far too limited; he instead proposed seven types of intelligences to account for a broader range of human potential in children and adults. A few years ago, he added an eighth intelligence: naturalist intelligence (“nature smart”), which can apply to every child. Last example, a 2005 study by the California Department of Education found that students in schools with nature-immersion programs performed 27 percent better in science testing than kids in traditional classrooms.
I cannot agree with or disagree with the above assertions but it just reminds me that most of my childhood was spent in a natural environment and I cherish what this experience has brought to me. The photo below shows the rural atmosphere where I spent with my grandma until I moved to a city with my parents to attend school at six years old. Lifestyle of austereness, quietness, sense of freedom, all these features were lost in the urban area. It was a hard transition for me and in the following years I spent every summer back with my grandma before coming to the US. Even though now I’m quite in favor of the convenience of urban life, this natural environment experience in childhood always placed an important role in my life and molded my temper in some subtle way. I have been relied on natural environment. This is why I’m so in need of being outside when enclosed in space for a long time.
Nature time is always needed, no matter whether the above researches are convincing enough for us to connect it to the health benefit, IQ improvement on kids. It is true that we feel more comfortable in nature. It makes a lasting sense of well-being. Just go outside and listen to the natural rhythms of our earth!