Sunday, September 27, 2020

play, learning, and risk

I've told a lot of tales here and they're all true (I swear by my tattoo - movie reference there.) I've talked about being in storms, falling off mountains, and walking until I'm near collapse. I'm a lifelong learner and an adventurer and I've put myself at risk to experience new things. 

In my defense, I will say that I thoroughly educate myself about things I do before I do them. I don't take risks just to take risks. And I prepare for accidents.

Learning involves risks - risk of failure, risk that someone will make fun of you, sometimes actual physical risks. When handling chemicals, fire, or electricity, there's dangers. That's why school labs come with lots of safety instructions. Unfortunately at home, people often don't bother to learn safety tips.

I have often lamented the disappearance of "real" chemistry sets and other science kits. But they seem to be coming back. It's true that there were many things in those old kits that would not even be allowed in children's toys today - including mercury and asbestos. I played with arsenic and explosives. But I'm pleased to see that modern kits like the ones produced by Thames and Cosmos, and Elenco provide lots of safety information.

Still, it's up to folks at home to safeguard their homes if they are going to allow risky play and studies...and there is plenty of research that indicates that we can easily err to one side or the other - challenges or safety (Norton, C., J. Nixon, and J. R. Sibert. 2004. Playground Injuries to Children. Archives of Disease in Childhood. (Bond, Michael (2020) From Here to There: The Art and Science of Finding and Losing Our Way. The Belknap Press. Cambridge, MA. Esp. Chapter 2: Right to Roam) (Tierney, John (July 18, 2011) Can a Playground Be Too Safe? New York Times Reports.) Many studies seek a happy playgrounds that are also challenging.

I want to thank Me. Colleen Stewart for the following safety resources.

And Ms. Stewart's website is:

Part of learning is learning to learn. Learn to be safe in learning. Here is your home safety library.

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