“Children can only learn to take responsibility
when given a chance to assess and mitigate risk for themselves.”
Gever Tulley of the Tinkering School and Bright Works: An Extraordinary School makes the case for Dangerous Acts to ignite interest, spark understanding and fuel a child’s pure and passionate desire to learn.
Our world has become so focused on safety there is little opportunity for children to explore, assess risks and yes, even injure themselves in the name of ‘oh I get what not to do now’.
When I was growing up, from birth to age 8, we lived on a 20 acre farm, (a ‘fun’ farm, as opposed to a ‘working’ farm as I learned was the case when I was a kid). We had four horses, a pond, and miles and miles of sprawling field, thick forests, and about a gazillion gopher holes to navigate.
Each morning, after breakie, my mom would put a whistle around my neck, kiss me sweetly and send me out to play. Can you imagine, just out the door at 5 to roam? “Whistle if you need anything okay? If not, I’ll see when you come back for lunch.” And off I’d go.
I spent a grand portion of my day within the split rail fence with my best friends, Vicky, Lucky, Gypsy and Dolly. They loved me best when I came with pockets full of sugar cubes and carrot bits to share. My mom was rarely around when I fed them. I’d learned to feed them properly and of course I would remember to keep my fingers out of their mouths. After all, I didn’t want to be bitten, right?
Each day was a new adventure in the art of exploration and expressing (without knowing any other way) my freedom. There were no plastic toys, but rocks and sticks and hay. There was no backpack full of trinkets and books to occupy my mind, that’s what the birds and trees and squirrels were for.
And guess what? Except for a few mishaps…joining my horsey-friends for a drink from the trough, leaping from the rafters into the hay and scaring myself enough to only go one round, and getting bucked off the pony first time I attempted bare-back…I survived. And quite frankly, because of this, I truly believe I am who I am. This type of trust, ability to get my bearings via experience, test the limits of my capabilities and bust through fears or discover a healthy regard for their role in keeping me safe, all served me in myriad and powerful ways.
We should want THIS freedom for our children and find ways to deliver it. Does this mean letting our kids run in the streets or turning away when they cross the street to see if they can ‘make it on their own’? Most certainly not, the world of man is wayyyy to unpredictable and unless you need to teach your kid street-smarts, there are better ways to deliver experience while keeping them alive.
Here are a few stellar ideas from Guru Gever Tulley, adept at and focused on empowering children to explore Danger in ways that encourage them to tinker, trust and tremendously grow! This TED Talk will make you laugh, maybe roll your eyes a little, but will MOST DEFINITELY have you thinking about how YOU can make life a little more Dangerous for your Kids.