Byron's Babbles

Learning From Action Not Abstraction

As a person who has lived six decades now, the world feels like a more perilous place. I don’t really think the modern world is any more dangerous than it was fifty or sixty years ago. I do, however, believe we are in a much more risk averse world today. I think a lot about whether this risk aversion is inhibiting children’s development of autonomy, competence, confidence, and resilience. Growing up on a farm I had many opportunities to test observations, to experiment and tinker, to fail and bounce back. Nothing was treated like a major risk, and I was not prevented from learning how to judge the truly dangerous, from the simply unfamiliar. Please know I am not in any way suggesting putting our children in harms way. I just worry we we are ensconcing children in a life of abstraction rather than action. I guess the old agriculture teacher in me will always believe in “learning by doing.” “Doing” always comes with some inherent risk. Riding a bike carries the inherent risk of falling off. Thank goodness we have not made it illegal to ride a bike.

Case in point; yesterday my son was telling about things he had done as a kid growing up on our farm and his girlfriend was amazed. She asked if I knew he was doing all that. Well, yes and no. Was he doing anything bad? No! Case in point: having been in North Carolina during the recent gas shortage, I saw firsthand all the stupid ways some people were hoarding gas. I can guarantee you my son understands why you don’t put gas in a trash bag lined trash can with no lid. Enough said! And, yes I did see that done. Somehow, last evening, the subject of putting pennies on a railroad track came up. My son’s girlfriend had never heard of doing that. What? She then went on to talk about having some of those pennies you get flattened in a machine at vacation destinations. What? That’s no souvenir. I’m not going to say whether we did or did not smash pennies on a railroad track last night, but those would be a souvenir she would never forget making. Besides just plain being fun, we need to let children grapple with a little bit of healthy risk. Doing so can help teach motor skills, develop confidence, and get our young scholars acquainted with the use of tools and some of the basic principles of science. Let’s add some action to all the abstraction.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: