Peter Schriemer Explores The Nature of God
- Tuesday, August 16, 2011
There’s so much information in the DVDs and the books. But you’ve delivered it in such a way that it doesn’t feel like you’re taking in a never-ending lecture. You’ve made learning about The Nature of God very fun and engaging for kids. Do you have other experience in working with and reaching children?
One of the things is I regularly work with children in person. And so I give presentations. I’ve given presentations within my church many times. In fact, The Nature of God series spawned from a summer Sunday School program I created for my church. And they asked me if I could do some nature stuff, and I did the whole summer. I did every Sunday. I brought in my animals, and I showed video clips from different documentaries and things, and I talked about the animals up front, and I had discussion questions for the teachers and activity ideas and all that and it was so popular with the kids. I was like, 'I’ve got to reach a wider audience than just my church,' and that’s really how The Nature of God started.
But that’s how I would answer in terms of ‘how do I know.’ I work with kids and I try stuff out with kids in front of me and how do they respond—you know what gets them excited, what turns them on. And I always think of myself in terms of the inner child. What makes me excited? What do I want to hear? What’s going to make me go ‘holy cow’ and just get pumped. I always try to think of it from the viewpoint of the child and me when I was young. It’s all about the ‘wow factor.’ You have to bring the wow facts. The most crazy cool facts. That’s what kids want. And you deliver it, and you hook them with that and then you can talk about some other facts that maybe aren’t as crazy cool, but you have to bring out what’s the wow thing that will get them all pumped. Then you equip them with the other knowledge, and you deliver it in a way that’s engaging and fun and then you just keep moving. You keep moving on to the next thing; you don’t stay on one thing too long. In this day and age, kids’ attention spans aren’t what they used to be, and so without being ADD in your format you need to make sure that your pacing is fast enough to keep their attention.
Should children and their parents read the books first or the DVDS or does it really matter?
I would say it doesn’t matter. In some ways, the videos are the spirit of the series because you have the energy on camera to watch and because kids are media oriented. I think that’s sort of the home base part. You get them hooked there. But hopefully enough families and children are still book oriented, and I think the books can easily stand on their own and that kids in the family can engage with those books without having watched the videos and really have a lot of fun with those. But I think sort of in some ways the videos are the backbone of the project.
In filming The Nature of God DVDs or writing the books or just in general is there a creature that’s your favorite to study or handle or look for in nature?
It’s hard to pick because being a nature guy I love all of creation, and there’s some I love more than others. But I really got my start in the world of frogs. And I’ve been called ‘The Frog Man’ many a time growing up when I was like 11 years old; it’s sort of when I started to own my education, where it went from being taught to 'I’m actively learning this myself on my own and on my own time.' And I went to the public library and checked out a bazillion books on herpetology, the study of reptiles, amphibians and things, and I’d say frogs were my first love in nature. And so the world of reptiles and amphibians is one that is near and dear to my heart, and close second to that I would say is the world of insects—and beetles being my favorite insect. I love beetles. Tiger Beetles are like my favorite beetle period. They’re so fun and engaging, and they’re not easy to catch and all that kind of stuff.
But another thing that I would connect with that is that both the world of reptiles and amphibians and insects are the two groups that are most accessible to children. If you are a child, you cannot hold a chipmunk; you cannot hold an owl. But you can catch a toad, and you can catch beetles and those are the most accessible creatures that you’re going to be able to come across. For me that’s been my focus anyway. I’m a hands-on naturalist and with children . . . I’m not going to say you’re not going to remember the stuff you observe, but you’re certainly going to remember the stuff that you touch. And so with toads and frogs and beetles and critters like that you actually get up really close and have a full sensory experience with them if you will. They’re going to be ones that are going to stay in your memory forever. So I attribute some of that back to my choices in terms of what really stands out to me in the natural world.
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