Theater of Cruelty

The little piece of urban nature

Regissør: Phie Ambo

CHILD AND NATURE / How can a teaching plan help the emerging person to interact with the world?


We all want the best for our children. Therefore, it also touches the most when the world of global warming is facing difficult times. And it is a reflection to bring 47 people between 11 and 15 years into a small part of urban nature in 10 weeks, surrounded by the big city chase, pollution and noise – seen from the cinema chair.

Director Phie Ambo has made the documentary Genopdagelsen, which recently had its world premiere in Copenhagen. The purpose of the project – seen in a teaching course – is to remind the children of the nature that surrounds us. Through the senses.

"Can you feel me?" Asks a certain woman at the beginning of the movie. "I have something I'd like to teach you. Something that has been lost through generations, but that you have to rediscover. ”It's the rediscovery of this is what the film is about.

The outside world

Even before we come to the world, our perception of the outside world is developing. Our 11-15-year-old children in the film have already – driven by curiosity in play and by physical interaction with the outside world – developed their own ways of sensing and understanding the world.

In the encounter with nature, the children in the film are given the task together to establish a building consisting of wooden beams, rafters and branches as well as an imported igloo shell. Based on their own experiences and imagination, the film gives glimpses of the process, of the children's play and conflicts, all while nature lives in its own rhythm of sun, rain and wind. They need to rediscover what has been lost. Lovely pictures that most people associate with scouting. The question that blows in the wind is: Did the children then rediscover the relation to the material, the materials, to the physical world?

Man lives with declines in biodiversity and global warming – and alienated from nature, without the necessary awakening taking place. To this end, children and young people around the world demand action from politicians. But the adult world remains more interested in developing children into "soldiers" for the competitive state. And therefore also in controlling the learning of children and young people rather than in developing the framework for the child's versatile development (including the body-physical world relation) and the potential of the individual child. A new study from Aarhus University even concludes that children who have grown up in the greenest environment are significantly less likely to develop a mental illness later in life than children who have grown up in the least green environment.

It is a culture that has been lost, but as upbringing and education
may to some extent be able to remedy.

But it's not about having more trees in the streets, as the report recommends. It is a culture that has been lost, but which education and education may be able to remedy to some extent. As part of a general awakening – a renaissance.


So when changing UN reports document how we have misunderstood our natural foundations and today – in our part of the world – living as if we had 3-4 planets available, a natural question becomes: How can an educational plan assist the growing human being – based on your own assumptions – to interact with the world? As an active integral part of a large coherent organic whole? What craft has mankind historically developed on that journey?

The rediscovery Instructor Phie Ambo Denmark

In the encounter with nature, man in the knife has a magical tool to work, for example, wood – for a tear, a spoon or a lubricating knife, but on a larger scale also for a house. In the sheep's wool, man has a material for machining so that he can get clothes on his body and protect himself from wind and cold. An arrow? Shoe? A jar? Processing of human food from nature's own products?

The many crafts get knowledge to put into the body. But at the same time, the crafts also contribute to our sensory experience. Man is deeply dependent on nature.

Practical knowledge

At the end of the movie, zoom out, and the little piece of urban nature that has been a classroom for the 42 children is revealed as being surrounded by the city's asphalt and parked cars. A cinematic clou? If the children were not stimulated for more than ten weeks by simply being on this small piece of nature in the big city, then the active guidance of the art teacher on the student's direct processing of the substance (soil, trees, plants, animals) in nature should be considered. Practical concrete knowledge of the crafts and their cultural history is a life-affirming methodological-didactic contribution to the child's versatile development and formation.

But in the real world today the area is built up.

Niels Johan Juhl-Nielsen
Niels Johan Juhl-Nielsen
Juhl-Nielsen resides in Copenhagen.

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