A couple of weeks ago the New York Times ran a front page story about preschools in Britain. After decades of running educational programs where the main objective was to minimize risk, nursery school directors and teachers are trying a new approach. They decided four years ago to try an about face. Instead of minimizing risk in these programs, they decided to bring in some risk. They eliminated the plastic playhouses and brought in bricks and wooden crates. The schoolyards got mud pits, tire swings, log stumps, and workbenches with saws and hammers.
Four years later the teachers are increasing the risk. They are teaching the kids about fire, how to use tools and how to play safely with knives. Limited risks are now seen by modern educators as essential to a character development. It teaches kids grit and helps them build resilience.
In the Princess Diana Playground in Kensington Gardens the sign tells parents that the space has intentionally provided some risks so that your child can develop an appreciation of how to live with risks in a controlled environment.
I am sure the decision has its detractors but overall the project has proved to be beneficial to children. It helps them learn how to handle the inevitable dangers of this world in a somewhat protected space. We have all known people who thrive in large part because they enjoyed the freedom to make mistakes, freedom to fall and get hurt, freedom to take risks.
Those of us who have lived a long time recognize that often it was the challenges we faced that taught us the most. Sometimes surviving hard things gave us a burst of confidence or offered a doorway to new life.
Continued Easter Blessings, Rev. Susan