We live in an urban world. It’s a statistical fact. The great outdoors for most of us is a thing of the past — a place, like elderly relatives, to be visited infrequently and preferably with gloves. Metro world, by contrast, is safe, insulated, inviting. No getting wet in the rain, no patchy wifi, no mud on our new Nikes.
Little wonder that our education system has gone the same way: safe, sedentary, sterile. Patrick Barkham thinks there might be a better way. Give kids more space, he pleads. Free them up from rules and tests. Climbing trees, prodding roadkill, collecting grubs: hell yes, if they want to, why not?
The statistics (that boring, schooly word again) suggest he might be on to something. One in eight British youngsters can’t identify an oak leaf.