Saturday, June 4, 2011

50 Dangerous Things (you should let your children do)

Gever Tulley (and Julie Spiegler) are at it again.  (I wrote about Gever's TED talk a while back.)  They just released the book 50 Dangerous Things (you should let your children do).  Yes I did pre order it.

CC Image courtesy of  eurleif on Flickr
It mostly talks about how to inspire creativity and competence in children.  It has 50 projects, skills, experiences for your children.  Most of them would make a wet nurse panic.  Superglue your fingers together?  Play with fire? Perform on the street?  Is he nuts?  In the book he lists good solid reasons for trying each thing.  Gever suggests supergluing your fingertips to "better appreciate our usual physical condition".  It forces us to be creative to accomplish our everyday tasks.
How do we build competence in children?  We do it by giving children opportunities to distinguish that which is truly dangerous from what merely contains an element of risk; we introduce them to risk through measured, supervised exposure; we teach them how to explore safely, and set them on a path to exploring on their own.
I have talked about this before.  Safety comes from understanding and managing risk not avoiding it.
You are a superhero; you are endowed with the power of supervision.  Use it wisely, and judiciously, and not only will your child surprise you, you may surprise yourself.
I do like the way that the book is laid out.  At first I wanted a digital copy (because that is how I read all my books now).  I am glad that I sprung for the real, hold in your hand, dog ear the pages, smell the book binding glue version.  Every project comes with a field notes page and a spot to put a completion date.  It is actually more of a workbook than a reference (because experiences are not just something you should read about.)

If you have children and you actually want them to accomplish things in life read this book - or watch the TED talk - or let them play with pocket knives.  Just let them do things.  It will be okay.

I am going home to lick a 9 volt battery - and find one for my son too.