When I was a kid in elementary school we had a merry-go-round just like that one in the picture above. The only difference is that the one I remember was on blacktop. We would get that thing loaded up with kids and spin it fast. Some kids ended up getting asphalt-skinned knees and elbows, but it was fun.
That old merry-go-round came to mind when I read In Britain's Playgrounds, 'Bringing in Risk' to Build Resilience. The article begins...
"Educators in Britain, after decades spent in a collective effort to minimize risk, are now, cautiously, getting into the business of providing it."
The article leads with this delightful photo...
So, the Educators over there are getting concerned that by overprotecting children, the children are not developing properly; they are growing up without the resilience and grit of children in earlier generations.
Amanda Spielman, a school safety inspector in the UK, is one of the concerned. In This Article she tells of one school's safety decision, and renders her opinion...
"[A] primary school cancelled its sports day because of that grave menace, “dew on the grass.”
That strikes me as simply barmy. Schoolchildren have been sliding around on muddy fields for centuries, yet in this case they missed out on the end of term fun (and exercise) of sports day because of an overzealous approach to health and safety."
Yep. That's barmy alright. That's so barmy it's laughable. Barmy. Barmy. Barmy.
The good part of this story (aside from some kids in Britain now getting to have more fun) is that I learned a new word.
I was telling Marlene about this whole barmy risk-aversion way of raising children, and she reminded me of when two of our sons made their own medieval weapons...
And used them...
Then there were the homemade medieval flails (a.k.a., war maces)...
Oh, they were fun! ...
Those photos were taken twelve years ago. Robert, was 15 and James was 12. I wrote about them Here and Here. Good memories, they were.
I'm sure that most adults reading this did not experience the problems of a risk-averse, overprotective childhood. This would especially be the case if you were blessed to grow up in a rural area. You probably experienced a childhood of risk and adventure, and the great memories that kind of childhood provides (not to mention the development of resilience and grit).
I'm no expert when it comes to raising kids. I could have done better. But one of the best things I did was deliberately live in a place where my sons had fields, and woods, and streams, and ponds. Places to roam and explore. And I gave them the tools they needed to make things. And I let them be boys.
That was a good thing.
It was a right thing.
It was important.
And, admittedly, it was barmy at times.
But it was barmy in a good way.
Barmy means crazy, or foolish. According to Wikipedia, "the meaning, foolish, is cited as dating only from 1892, so this usage may be derived from Barming, in Kent, the location of the county's psychiatric hospital (colloquially loonybin)."