Smaller homes mean we need bigger communal spaces especially outdoor spaces

Listening to younger schoolchildren talking about what they have missed over the past year it appears that it is places to meet their friends which mainly means school. They have discovered that a screen and zoom is just not enough. Tech has an important place but we need to know how to use it and not be under its control. It’s a very good time to emphasise to older children that they are the commodities of tech companies.

At present parks are full of children who seem to be running around more than they did previously which made me wonder if provision of space around schools could be increased. The sale of playing fields has had unintended consequences but planning laws could be altered to make it obligatory to provide usable outdoor space. This is much harder in cities but groups like The Garden Classroom have endeavoured to develop neglected spaces with small beds cultivated by local people and the whole visited by different classes of children from the surrounding schools. Children learn how to observe something closely, describe it factually and then poetically. Vitamin D production is a bonus. Just being in natural daylight has been shown by studies in Australia and the Far East to protect against some myopia.

Knowing how to take care of these spaces is important and my hope would be that we will never need another book like Robert MacFarlane and Jackie Morris’s Lost Words to point out what we are losing through ignorance of the natural world and how to describe it. If there was some way RHS and Kew magazines outlining current research could be passed on to schools by members who receive them that would increase the resources of schools and decrease the need for recycling the magazines.




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