Growing up in concrete jungle like Singapore, I had little contact with nature and most of my time was spent indoors. I did get that occasional visit to the zoo or bird park, however, it was mostly through school excursions when I got to primary school. I recall that I experienced none of that when I was in preschool. (It was likely that early childhood education was still in it's infancy in Singapore in the early 80s and academic development was the only focus for the 4-6 year olds).
When I finally learnt how to read at 6 or 7 years old, (I think in those days most kids only got to learn reading in primary school) I became a bookworm. Often my head was buried in storybooks, lost in the magical fantasy of Enid Blyton books, the mysteries of Nancy Drew and Secret 7. Rarely pick up any non-fiction books about birds, insects, frogs, plants etc. Without the knowlege of nature first hand, I did not have much interest in it.
All that I knew of nature, was limited to my pet dog in primary school, rabbits and hamsters kept by a next-door neighbour, bougan-villas, orchids and bonsais that were planted in my balcony by my green-fingers father. And a little more formal science lessons in school; planted some muang beans in primary school and in secondary school; learnt all about the innards of a dissected frog.
The only time when I got interested in nature was the time I spent in Australia in my university years. I walked to the campus from my home daily and always made a point to pick a wild flower, watch the butterflies, gaze at the cottony clouds above and simply marvel at the beauty of God’s creations.
Seriously. I hope K never become like that. To be so caught up in the secularity of this world and only know the man-made part of it. Only learn the commercial view of nature through animal enclosures and the television. Merely know the names of 2 kinds of species of birds; sparrows and mynahs or comprehend the metamorphosis of a chrysalis to a butterfly solely through a book.
Depravity comes in many forms, I think not giving a child opportunities to discern what he understands from nature through first hand knowledge is depravation. Children need to spend more time outdoors to be in direct contact with nature, learn to observe and recognise things in the natural world. I really have no excuse since there are a couple of nature parks a stone’s throw away from our home.
A wide-brimmed hat, lots of sunblock and a love for nature will be all we need to deal with sweltering morning heat, profuse perspiration and some freckles along the way.
Trying to spot squirrels and birds with Grand-dad in Bukit Batok Nature Park