Saturday, July 30, 2011

Lenore Skenazy

I have posted about Lenore Skenazy and her blog Freerangekids before but missed this great article she wrote for the Guardian last year.

I'm particularly interested in how risk has disappeared from our childrens lives due to the media, i.e. as Lenore writes:

"The stories that sell are the scary ones, which is why we keep hearing about the dangers to kids posed by food (choking), formula (additives), nappies (chemicals), blankets (smothering), toys (phthalate), school yards (bullies), playgrounds (injury), bedding (fumes), playmates (racism), books (leaded print), shopping carts (bacteria), car seats (asphyxiation), strollers (amputation), and dirt (dirt). Hard to remember that our kids are, all told, pretty safe! When I was born, four times more children died in infancy than now. When my parents were born, we had yet to eradicate polio. Or Hitler."

How can the design of open spaces encourage risk in play, increase confidence in parents that their kids are ok and ultimately allow kids to be free to come and go as they please?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Can a Playground Be Too Safe?

NY Times has an article about playgrounds and risky play.

" “There is no clear evidence that playground safety measures have lowered the average risk on playgrounds,” said David Ball, a professor of risk management at Middlesex University in London. He noted that the risk of some injuries, like long fractures of the arm, actually increased after the introduction of softer surfaces on playgrounds in Britain and Australia.

“This sounds counterintuitive, but it shouldn’t, because it is a common phenomenon,” Dr. Ball said. “If children and parents believe they are in an environment which is safer than it actually is, they will take more risks. An argument against softer surfacing is that children think it is safe, but because they don’t understand its properties, they overrate its performance.” "

Shocking.... well. we sort of knew.

According to new research done by Savlon and Play England UK over at Playday....

  • 42 per cent of children report they have never made a daisy chain
  • 32 per cent have never climbed a tree
  • A quarter of children today have never had the simple pleasure of rolling down a hill
  • 47 per cent of adults built dens every week as a child, yet 29 per cent of today’s children say they have never built a den at all
  • A third of children have never played hopscotch
  • One in ten children have never ridden a bike
What to do????

Saturday, July 23, 2011


Tim Gill writes an excellent article over at the Guardian about risk and blame.

"In the 1980s and 1990s we collectively fell prey to what I call the zero-risk childhood. Children were seen as irredeemably stupid, as fragile as china plates, and utterly unable to learn from their mistakes. Hence the role of adults was to protect them from all risk, no matter what the cost.

.....The time is right to move beyond unproductive debates about the "blame culture" and instead to build momentum behind the idea of expanding children's horizons. What is needed is nothing less than the wholesale rejection of the philosophy of protection. In its place, what we need to adopt is a philosophy of resilience that truly embraces risk, uncertainty and real challenge – even real danger – as essential ingredients of a rounded childhood."

Couldn't agree more.

Ken Robinson

This blog has taken a beating..... I have fearfully neglected it and it's time to give it the attention it deserves.... Starting with Sir Ken.

Interesting interview over at Fast Company about his new book and creativity.

"I remember when I was running the national commission on creativity, education and the economy in the U.K., the Secretary of State there said, "We're very committed to creativity in education but we've got to get literacy and numeracy right first." And I said, this is just a basic misunderstanding. It's like saying we're going to bake a cake and if it works out, then we'll put the eggs in. That's not how it works. If you want people to be literate, you have to get them passionate about reading and that's a creative job. To think of it as an afterthought or in conflict of the core purposes, is a misconception of what creativity is. Creative leaders get that. And if they don't they will."

Love it.