The trouble with risk and children’s play is that it creates this aura of paternalism amongst those members of our society who like to give the ‘intentional’ appearance of caring and knowing best and even more dangerously so – those who wish to protect their own back.
Let’s face it, the playground industry (if not the childhood / parenting industry in general) has spawned experts in everything from sleeping to play and set about chipping away at removing any sense of decision making from those who know the very children they are caring for best, namely parents, carers and educators and of course the children themselves.
I have had conversations in recent days with some colleagues interstate who are struggling along trying to get challenging, stimulating and valuable play environments across the board for kids they work with, to a barrage of opposition from well-meaning and powerful ‘others’. These ‘others’ are holding tight to their current position, lest someone dare to think on their own two feet and remove any need of them or their services. What terrible, irresponsible catastrophes might arise!
Truth is that these ‘self confessed’ experts, are usually only experts in a single, very narrow field and tend to use technical, emotive and litigious language all in the same phrase so that everyone else is left feeling that the only option is disaster management. Well I’m prepared to out them and its time we stood up and said they aren’t experts in what matters most to children; not experts in curiosity and wonder, in confidence and satisfaction, in learning and mastery, or most importantly joy and fun!
When did we become so removed from childhood to leash our children so stoically to the banal. Aren’t we all is this together? This thing called ‘life’ which is all about irregularity, extremes, dare I say it ‘danger’ and of course the unknown.
Its been said a million times before but bubble-wrapping children, produces in-affective, needy adults who can’t stand up for themselves, make decisions, interact well socially or think creatively. Needing rules and regulations to constantly act produces nothing more than robots.
Empowering adult carers and educators and their charges to think freely for themselves about what is good, bad and manageable, we might actually find that they’re not as silly as some might have us think and that the follow on effect for children’s lives is more powerful than we ever imagined.
So lets stand up and say ‘its time’ our children deserve better!