Monday, January 6, 2014

What All Children Need

Thanks to @KaraAlyson22 for sharing What All Children Need.  Definitely worth reading the entire article.  In particular I enjoyed the concluding stance:

That is our job as we design children’s environments, to create a nest for children as they navigate the demands of growing up and to make them believe that they can fly in the world which they will inherit. We help provide them security and the freedom to adventure. At both a conscious and unconscious level, the child has to feel secure here and now, but at the same time learn that the world out there is not an insurmountable risk, but a place that she can and will learn to manage, learn from, be a part of, and love.
The drive to protect our children is profound and easily can extend to scotchguarding their lives. Reality is difficult. It is messy and loud and profane. There are people with warts and frowns, and decidedly mixed virtues. But childhood is a time when we help children begin to live in the world and love the world; and we can’t do that fenced off from it in a world of two dimensional glowing screens and plastic balls and slides. Scrubbing and polishing every raw experience in the name of health and safety, or protecting innocence scrapes away the natural luster of childhood. Some of the wonders and joys of childhood that fuel the best in our adult selves is unavoidably birthed in bumps and bruises and tears.

From an education perspective we are reminded to value play and simple experimentation.  Providing time for students to tinker is important but for some reason(s) seems to dissipate as learners progress through a K-12 system.  The habit of experimenting /tinkering is critical in a world where rapid change is a defining characteristic.  Experimentation and tinkering leads to asking more questions and seeking continuous improvement. "Some of the wonders and joys of childhood that fuel the best in our adult selves," is possible if schools value play across the K-12 spectrum.   Additionally, the article  is a reminder about the importance of failure.  As opposed to failure carrying with it some irreversible negative connotation, iteration is to be embraced and an expected part of the learning process.  I think the statement, "At both a conscious and unconscious level, the child has to feel secure here and now, but at the same time learn that the world out there is not an insurmountable risk, but a place that she can and will learn to manage, learn from, be a part of, and love." hits at this point.  We want students to take risk, seek adventure and strive for unique intellectual experiences.  Schools should provide a safe environment for students to explore new academic/intellectual possibilities without the penalty of  harsh consequences.