I’ve been reading for a year or so a blog by Lenore Skenazy called Free Range Kids. Ms. Skenazy argues that children are “not in constant danger from creeps, kidnapping, germs, grades, flashers, frustration, failure, baby snatchers, bugs, bullies, men, sleepovers and/or the perils of a non-organic grape.” She points out that this is one of the safest times to be a kid and advocates that we should let our child have the freedom to play outside unattended. . .to walk to school. . .to ride his or her bike around the neighborhood.
Did you know that some of this childhood risk taking is actually happening at the Denver Children’s Museum? In the building section of the museum they actually allow the children to CUT WOOD WITH REAL SAWS!
I know. . .let out that sound of disbelief. . .and. . .and. . .disbelief.
Seriously. . .the children’s museum is encouraging real life experiences. . .real life creative experiences and giving children saws and sharp pliers and NAILS AND HAMMERS. (LIONS AND TIGERS AND BEARS! O MY!)
And what happened?
Craziness? Mayhem? Blood?
Serious building. . .and creating. . .and learning.
All seven of us stayed at this learning spot. . .working on different projects. . .for about an hour. Some of the projects worked. . .others failed spectacularly and the frustrated child returned to the bin of recycled items. . .picked out something new and started working again.
And this has got me thinking.
We easily put into their hands game consoles, phones, tablets to keep them busy. But, we are so afraid to put in their hands a hammer, nails and a saw? We are afraid to let them imagine and create and learn this way for fear that they will. . .hurt themselves? Is this a realistic fear? Would the learning and the creating possibly outweigh the risk of bodily harm?
What if in the garage. . .or the basement. . .or the backyard we set up workbenches for kids. . .and just let them create something or nothing. To build and fail and maybe hit their nail (finger or otherwise) with a hammer.
What could happen?