New Film Explores Connection between Nature and Learning; Fosters Children's Appreciation for the Environment

Beginning this fall public television stations across the nation will air a new film, “When Learning Comes Naturally,” produced by Jonathan Diamond Associates in association with Sarah Lawrence College’s Child Development Institute (CDI). The film is the fourth in a series that explores various ways that children learn and will be aired on public television stations.

CDI director, Rachel Grob, says the film comes at a time when many children are losing touch with the natural world as they hunker down in front of TV or computer screens.

“There’s a growing recognition that children really require a strong connection with nature, both to promote creative learning and to develop deep affection for the environment–an affection which children must have for the natural world before they come to understand it and take responsibility for it,” she says. “We need to find more ways to nurture that relationship and find more opportunities to introduce children to the natural world.”

The film will premiere at Sarah Lawrence College on September 25 at 4:30 p.m. and will be shown accompanied by expert panel discussions at the premiere as well as at three events in California in October: Monday, October 5, 2009 at 6 p.m. at the California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco; Tuesday, October 13, 2009 at 6 p.m. at the David Brower Center, Berkeley; and a special showing for educators on Wednesday, October 14, 2009 at 6 p.m. at the Katherine Delmar Burke School, San Francisco.

The Child Development Institute has embarked on an outreach campaign to distribute the film at conferences and through community groups. Any school or educational organization interested in viewing the film should contact the Institute at

Says Grob: “We need to foster the natural love that children have for the environment, and help them develop–artistically, creatively and intellectually–around the sparks that ignite when you take kids outdoors.”

Other films in the collaboration between producer Jonathan Diamond and Sarah Lawrence’s Child Development Institute are “When A Child Pretends,” (1998) which investigated how children learn through play; “From Pictures to Words,” (2001) which explored the issues of early literacy; and “Values Go to School,” (2005) a film focused on how values are transmitted in school and on the importance of sharing and collaboration between students from preschool through high school.

Through its outreach to teachers, parents, administrators and child development professionals, the Child Development Institute communicates Sarah Lawrence College's progressive education ideology and provides a forum for the discussion of issues in education.

Sarah Lawrence College Premiere

September 25, 2009
4:30 p.m.
Reisinger Concert Hall
Panel discussion and reception follow screening

Space is limited. Please RSVP to the Office of College Events at (914) 395-2412 or