THE WORLD OF NATURE IN ECOLOGICAL PSYCHOPEDAGOGY:
VIEW OF THE SCIENTIST AND THE POET
In a short article, an expert in the field of environmental psychopedagogy and ecopsychology emphasizes the important role of the artistic perception of nature. He draws attention to the value of a poeticized appeal to the natural world as a source of beauty. This helps to develop the emotional, aesthetic and ethical foundations human relationship to nature.
Key words: the world of nature environment, environmental psycho-pedagogy
I was born and raised in Latgale in the southeast of Latvia on the border with Lithuania and Belarus in the multinational Daugavpils. Latgale is a unique region of one and a half thousand glacial lakes and green hills along the banks of the Daugava (in Russia and Belarus – Western Dvina), covered with pine forests, mixed copses, birch and oak groves. In this region it is hard not to become a naturalist, to which my own experience can testify.
From the second grade I dreamed of becoming a professor of zoology. I graduated from the Faculty of Biology at the Pedagogical Institute and actually became a professor in the Department of Environmental Psychology, as is written on the professorship certificate. I devoted twenty years to the study of the psychological principles and mechanisms that contribute to the formation of human beings’ attitude to nature. My main monograph is called “The psychology of a person's attitude to nature.”
Say the following two phrases out loud, and in each case allow corresponding visual and auditory images to arise in your mind:
- Spring awakening the world of nature ...
- Spring awakening the environment ...
What did you imagine? Perhaps, when you imagined the awakening of the world of nature, you heard the sound of droplets, the singing of blackbirds and the murmur of a stormy spring brook. Or you saw an image similar to that described by the natural scientist and teacher Dmitry Kaygorodov: “The gloomy, old spruce forest suddenly seemed to come to life, spiritualized: through its edges and glades, blue eyes opened timidly and looked at the light of God, just rising above the ground, and beckoning to him uncontrollably... "
The phrase “spring awakening the environment”, on the other hand, does not so easily conjure up such richly endowed images. If you make an effort then perhaps a sort of abandoned wasteland begins to loom vaguely, on which wild flowers open among rusting scrap metal.
“The world of nature” is felt as the realm of native nature (for contrast, try saying “native environment”) - as something close, spiritually significant, emotionally rich (in Kaygorodov – “the forest came to life, ensouled!”). The "environment" is rather not felt, but only thought, understood not by the heart, but by the mind. The "world of nature" is both around us and within us, while the "environment" is only outside. We talk about love for the natural world and responsibility for the environment.
As the well-known environmental educator Dmitry Kavtaradze noted, the meaning of the term “environmental protection” has been overshadowed by the idea of the protection of humans and their interests, with the environment serving as a background for human activity. This term speaks about the protection of natural resources which are required by human beings - the subsoil, soil, and water - but not of Nature itself.
He writes: “We can never “jump over” such seemingly simple things as trees, birds, grass, bugs. We must introduce children into this world, teach them the culture of handling plants and animals.” He emphasizes that it is necessary to "return to Nature" in the sense of sensing and feeling her, understanding our vital connection to her, and that this is the most difficult of all the tasks of environmental education.
Such an approach to environmental education has not yet been acknowledged by many of our educators and environmental specialists. Yet philosophers have long recognized this way of perceiving and interacting with nature as the basis for solving environmental problems. I recall the ideas of Georgy Gachev presented in his “Book of wonders, or natural science through the eyes of the humanities, or images in science,” which has had a huge impact on my professional worldview. Gachev argues that “from now on, one cannot look at the environment only as a source of materials, that is, through the selfish, utilitarian lenses, through which industry, technology and the natural sciences perceive it... Nature must be perceived as having intrinsic value and understood as a subject.” In other words, in the educational process it is important to perceive nature in the same way that we perceive the phrase the "World of Nature” - as a spiritually, emotionally and imaginally rich subject - and not just as a natural component of the environment, which can be used for our purposes.
The concept of the "World of Nature" has become a key concept of environmental psycho-pedagogy, a science that I began to create in the early nineties. For all these years, there has been only one periodical in Russian that reflected a broad interdisciplinary approach to environmental issues - exploring the philosophical, sociological, cultural and psychological aspects. This is the “Humanitarian Ecological Journal,” published by Ukrainian colleagues from the Kiev Ecological and Cultural Center.
Now I’m looking at the ECOPOESIS journal on my laptop screen and I am delighted to see my dream brought to life by a unique, creative and inspired international team. I am happy for the opportunity to be involved in this long-awaited miracle for ecology and the humanities.
I would like to share my poetry with the journal, which reflects my perception of the "World of Nature." I began to write poetry at the age of forty. For another twenty years I did not publish my work. However, I developed the tradition of ending various seminars and lectures on ecopsychology and ecological education by reading several of my poems. I received positive feedback from many listeners, and they always asked: "Where can I read more?" In 2020, I posted my poems on the poetry portal "Poetry.ru". Now, a number of my poems are presented in the almanacs of the Russian Writers Union: “Lyrics, 2020,” 1st volume; "Anthology of Russian poetry, 2020,” and "My Russia, 2020.”
(Prose translation from the original in Russian)
Reference for citations
Yasvin, V. A. (2020). The world of nature in ecological psychopedagogy: view of the scientist and the poet. Ecopoiesis: Eco-Human Theory and Practice, 1(2). – URL: http://en.ecopoiesis.ru