• Pieter Derycke

Move for the sake of the children - movement generational amnesia

music: Fat Freddy’s Drop: Hope

I was browsing in the book Children and Nature, edited by Kahn and Kellert, and came across this section that I marked before:

[…] the problem of environmental generational amnesia. To restate the basic idea: People take the natural environment they encounter during childhood as the norm against which they measure envrionmental degradation later in life. With each ensuing generation, the amount of envrionmental degradation increases, but each generation takes that degraded condition as the non-degraded condition, as the normal experience. (p.113)

Of course they are talking about the natural environment. But I think this is also true about the movement environment. What children see, do, feel, and experience in their youth is taken as the norm. We’re all influenced by what you could call movement generational amnesia. So if we want to change that, we need to expose our youth to a rich movement environment!

This does NOT mean showing your children youtube movies of incredible physical feats, videos of parkour athletes and circus artists, nor Usain Bolt running the 100m dash. In the biophilia literature, it is known that children’s thoughts and (more important) their behaviour on conserving the natural environment are rooted in direct and every day experience.

Spectacular beauty seen in nature documentaries, and even experiencing awe inspiring landscapes on a vacation do NOT have the same influence of direct, everyday, ordinary experience.

Translated to the movement environment, this means that what your children see, do, feel, and experience in their normal, everyday, ordinary life builds their movement framework, their norm. So lead by example and move more in your daily life. Move in various ways. Move with joy and exuberance. But also, move for practical and ordinary reasons!

The movement environment has one big advantage over the natural world: Degradation in the movement environment can be changed more easiliy, maybe even restored to an adequate level.

In a lot of indigenous cultures, there is an outspoken desire to leave the world in a good shape for the next generations. Some explicitly talk about saving all that is good for 7 generations! The world they are talking about is the physical, natural world, but also the cultural and social environment. And the movement environment!

So, what are you waiting for? Move for the sake of the little children. Move to shape a movement environment for the next generations. Be a movement environmentalist, change your movement and change the world.