In praise of boys (and intergenerational learning)

This post differs from most of the other posts on this site, in that it is a lot more personal in nature. It acknowledges two very important “men” in my life – my husband, Clive, and my son, Carter.

My husband is the inspiration and the one-man technical support team behind this website. Clive knows how important thinking and communicating about environmental history and related subjects is to me, and felt that this would be an ideal mechanism to enable me to express myself and engage with others on this topic. If it was not for his initial idea, and his ongoing support and encouragement, this site would not exist. Clive is also a school teacher and has been involved in Enviroschools and other initiatives to encourage student learning about the environment through direct experience.

As for the other important man in my life, Carter – he provides the inspiration and motivation for continuing to write about our environmental history, in the hope that his generation and generations to come will not repeat the same mistakes that our forebears and our own generation have made. Though he is only one and a half years old, Carter already shows a strong interest in the nature around him – he enjoys the texture and sensation of the bark and leaves of trees and plants, he loves going on “jungle adventures” in the indigenous shrubs and trees on our estate, and he adores animals, with whom he communicates in a special language appropriate to the particular animal in question. (Many a dog has been somewhat taken aback by his emphatic and wholly convincing “woof woof” response to their canine murmurings.) But not only that, Carter was born in Conservation Week 2008, an annual event run by the Department of Conservation to promote the conservation of New Zealand’s indigenous flora, fauna and environments. And, at the risk of projecting my own values too much on to him, I do feel quietly confident that this bodes well for the future.

I should also note that in terms of other important male influences, I suspect I have inherited my independent thinking and strong belief in social justice from my father, who himself comes from a long line of such independent-minded individuals.

Potentially, this may sound a bit lofty and self-important, but this post also has a slightly more universal message too. Too often, I feel that the men in our lives and in society generally get a bit of a “bad rap”; too often, they are portrayed in the media or popular culture as morally destitute, greedy business men who dominate and control society for their own ends; as perpetrators of aggression and violence; or, at the other end of the spectrum, lazy good-for-nothings that are the bane of every woman’s life. But how often do we speak about men being great role models for our children, quiet but steady supporters of their wife or partner’s goals and ambitions, or morally upright human beings? I suspect not enough – so this is my small way of addressing that balance.

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