What Blake described over 200 years ago in his poem the Schoolboy has now been given the name of ‘nature-deficit disorder’. The unnaturalness of confining boys indoors and replacing outdoor interaction with nature with indoor study actually stunts their development and, ironically, stops them from learning.
The Welsh Assembly identified this as problem some years ago and Wales RSPB produced a report ‘Every Child Outdoors‘.
I love to rise in a summer morn
When the birds sing on every tree;
The distant huntsman winds his horn,
And the sky-lark sings with me.
O! what sweet company.
But to go to school in a summer morn,
O! it drives all joy away;
Under a cruel eye outworn,
The little ones spend the day
In sighing and dismay.
Ah! then at times I drooping sit,
And spend many an anxious hour,
Nor in my book can I take delight,
Nor sit in learning’s bower,
Worn thro’ with the dreary shower.
How can the bird that is born for joy
Sit in a cage and sing?
How can a child, when fears annoy,
But droop his tender wing,
And forget his youthful spring?
O! father & mother, if buds are nip’d
And blossoms blown away,
And if the tender plants are strip’d
Of their joy in the springing day,
By sorrow and care’s dismay,
How shall the summer arise in joy,
Or the summer fruits appear?
Or how shall we gather what griefs destroy,
Or bless the mellowing year,
When the blasts of winter appear?