“Prescription Nature” by Richard Louv, p. 70
- Consider the author’s key arguments and complementary persuasive language strategies.
- Practice a comparative paragraph(s) based on two similar key ideas (the cartoon and the article)
- Using appropriate metalanguage, identify and analyse the author’s key idea/comparisons
- Mr Louv criticises the excessive use of technology at the expense of outdoors play and an appreciation of the wonder of nature
- From a physical and emotional viewpoint, he condemns our alienation from the natural environment
- Mr Louv contends that, owing to increasingly obsessive use of technologies, we are becoming desensitised to the natural environment, much to the diminishment of our wellbeing.
- He suggests that we should be cultivating and nurturing our various sensory responses to the natural environment.
Key reasoning/persuasive techniques (central to the author’s key viewpoints)
- The anecdotal reference to the school excursion and the response to the birth of the dolphin highlights the students’ desensitisation to nature
- Comparison of American and Australian students and statistics to highlight the lack of exposure to nature and outdoors activity.
- The symbolism of the “metaphor”; appeal to more favourable lifestyle choices and behaviour that helps our emotional wellbeing.
Word level analysis:
- “virtual environment” ; blocking our the senses; splashing loudly
- Blinkered horses: inability to swim never climbed a tree
- Purpose; alarmist/ fear tactics; shaming tactics; exhorts us to think about the quality of our lives and our wellbeing
Metalanguage: anecdote, comparisons, analogies, juxtapositions; disconcerting/alerting, alarmist tone, sensible, measured, dismayed; alliteration; figurative language; dispassionately; prosaically, phlegmatically
Second Key argument:
- Mr Louv contends that policy makers and parents must facilitate opportunities so that children can appreciate nature
- Experience of and exposure to nature is critical to our physical and psychological/emotional wellbeing
- Social planners and policy makers are recommending design principles that accommodate nature
- There is a connection between exposure to nature and human rights
- The natural and social environments should be complementary (reinforce each other). To get maximum wellbeing
- appeals to our emotional well-being and stability; appeals to human rights;
- use of words with positive connotations and experts to encourage greater participation/awareness of benefits of the natural environment
Word level: “public awareness is spreading” ‘ “nurturing of nature rich neighbourhoods” ; repetition – the “gifts of nature” – more nature based experiences in curriculum
Metalanguage: (solution) endorses; recommends, advocates, exhorts us to …; alliteration ; extols the virtues of ;
Phlegmatically, Mr Richard Louv coins the phrase “nature deficit disorder” to capture his view about our changing relationship with the natural world. Drawing upon a combination of personal and professional evidence throughout his argument, he highlights the extent to which members of the community are becoming oblivious to the wonders of the natural world much to our detriment. Firstly, the anecdotal evidence of the students suggests that they appear self-absorbed to the point that they are blocking out the wonder of nature. Their reference to their indifference towards the dolphin’s birth seeks to shame those who have a “blinkered” approach to nature and alarm those who believe that such connections are critical to physical and emotional well-being. Furthermore, by comparing children in urbanised countries such as America and Australia, the author alarms all concerned families about the demise of physical play, which affects their emotional development. The statistics sourced from the Australian Bureau of Statistics that indicate as many as one in four children have not “climbed a tree” suggest that very few children are exposed to physical play. Such an unlikely occurrence is likely to shame all parents who over-emphasise indoor screen-based activities to their peril. Accordingly, the author challenges parents to prioritise health and well-being concerns of all children and take heed of the worrying trend.
In the seashells cartoon, Leunig depicts a father and son listening to a seashell on a quiet, peaceful beach. This prompts a poetic discussion about the literal and metaphoric “sounds” that can be heard, as Leunig encourages viewers to reflect upon our increasingly estranged relationship with the natural world. I hear …. The juxtaposition of the images with the poetic comments focuses our attention on the degree to which our reliance on technology is thwarting our natural and spontaneous reactions to the dangers, beauty and suffering in the natural world. In the foreground, Leunig depicts a father conversing with his son about the sounds of a seashell. The conversation concerns the “sounds” of the natural world. Leunig refers to both the literal and the metaphoric sounds: literally, the young boy repeats the phrase “I hear” to identify to his father the various natural sounds he hears such as the “sea level rising” and the “tuna being hunted”. Common to each sound is the theme of human destruction, grief and suffering. Leunig contends that the younger generation is oblivious to the problems in the natural world. This is evident in the boy’s desire to escape into the sounds that he can control via his i-Pod. Leunig discredits the young boy’s attitude; the assertive and blunt reference to his “I pod” shows that he is indifferent towards the sounds of nature and has lost compassion… the sufferings of others. Like Mr Louv, Leunig, ultimately, encourages his viewers to nurture our emotional engagement with the world because it makes us humane/more caring/compassionate.
Mr Louv identifies key solutions such as more meaningful engagement with the natural environment both from an education and from an urban perspective. He refers to conclusions from researchers such as Kathleen Bagot and Tonia Gray from the University of Sydney to show the importance of building greater connections to nature. Members of the public are encouraged to recognise the importance of “visceral and personal engagement with nature” without which our lives are seriously diminished. Their philosophies are also supported by the United Nations . . .
Return to Arguments: exercises and summary and “turn to page”