While searching for a good news story to run I came across an article about Gever Tulley, a man who thinks that children should be allowed to do dangerous things, 50 of them to be exact. Some of the things suggested in his book named, you guessed it, 50 Dangerous Things You Should Let Your Children Do, include driving, using hammers, walking a tight rope and tasting electricity (I have done that one and it does not taste good). In a previous article I have here on the blog I wrote about how in many ways the next crop of kids have become wimps and how this has been enabled by parents. However I wonder about the wisdom of letting children deliberately endanger themselves.
I agree with Mr Tulley's point that we faced dangers as kids learning how to walk, climb the stairs and possibly a few other little things like eating. For the record I am not a parent but, I do have an idea about how children learn, I think.
The book which is is available outlines the steps and danger level associated with each task. Some of the tasks are dangerous enough to cause vision loss amongst other things. I have to admit I am on the fence on this one. In some respects it is a good idea to educate children about what is dangerous. They need to know that a stove is hot and can burn, that playing with matches can cause the house to get burned down, that walking on train tracks is a very bad idea and that playing with guns is always a bad idea unless they are taught about the risks associated with them. Here is where I think that this is not so good an idea. IF parents are not careful enough to explain that they need to be present during these supposed experiments and that in no way should the child do the experiments on their own, I would assume since I have not read the book that this is strongly recommended, there could be serious results including loss of limbs and yes even death. I am not suggesting scaring the wits out of kids. But, I am suggesting being stern when it comes to doing such experiments as boiling water on a hot stove that mom and or dad need to be there.
At the end of the day the question needs to be asked will this enhance awareness and lower risks for kids in the future who decide to do things that are dangerous, without parents around? Or, will allowing them to explore create phobias that may be carried for the rest of the life of the experimenter? Kids are impressionable and will form ideas about the world around them a lot faster than we as adults would. Therefore I would suggest that before parents with kids dive in that a good honest conversation between parent and child about the experiments they will do take place. Simply so that kids learn without causing undue fear and while instilling a sense of adventure with respect for what is dangerous enough to cause harm. This is where I thank my lucky stars that I am not a parent because that balance is not easy to come by. that is where I will leave this one in your capable hands parent.
Tinkering School is Gever Tulley's project read more at the site.