The Child and Nature

“In every child there lives a love for the earth, a joy in the starry universe, an enthusiastic interest in the mysteries of atoms and organisms.” Excerpts from talks given by Eberhard Arnold on the experience of nature in education.

And so we rejoice with the children in their pleasure in nature, their delight in flowers and forest, their happiness in horses, dogs, cows, goats, and rabbits, and their joy in deer and birds and everything else that lives.


Every real child lives in and with nature. Wherever he looks, the living soul of nature is immediately obvious to him. It is not hard for the educator to show to a sensitive child the creative power at work everywhere, to point out the relationship of unity in nature, the mutual help, which is the secret of this creation.


In every child there lives – right from the beginning – a love for the earth, a joy in the starry universe, an enthusiastic interest in the mysteries of atoms and organisms; all this is ready to come to life in each child as love to God and to Christ, the Logos who creates and transforms everything.


Children do not find God as nature itself, nor in nature. They find Him above and behind the whole of nature, behind the entire creation – never in any one part of creation.


Any educator who is truly called to such a task can open up to each child the mystery of birth, the awakening of his childlike spirit and later his adult consciousness, and – last but not least – the mystery of the second birth, which takes place when God breaks into the human heart.


From Children’s Education in Community  (Plough Publishing House, 1976, 2017).

Article edited for length and clarity.