Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Sticks and Stones May Break Your Bones
Sticks and stones may break your bones...but not if you use them sensibly.
I know two young boys who grew up with knives. They learnt how to use knives correctly. They weren't cocooned in bubble wrap to protect them from possible injury. As a kid, I was taught how to play with fire. It still fascinates me and I still treat it with respect. I've never burnt myself, or another, but I have cut myself occasionally. Pity I never learnt to use knives correctly!
One school I taught in had a thriving gumnut economy. This primary school had a wonderful back playground (away from the demented soccer section), where many kids had built shelters from branches and sticks laid against trees, plus scraps they brought from home. As the community grew, they instinctively developed a need to barter and trade. Somehow, a gumnut economy was born. I can't remember all the details, but the kids collected gumnuts and used them to barter with each other. We had a few rumblings like "Oh no, they're playing with sticks." but luckily the kids were sensible and the sticks were used for good not evil. What a wonderful example of creative play!
I believe we should encourage our kids to use tools, and teach them how to use tools correctly. Sure they might cut or bruise themselves. As Gever Tulley says, "They're young; they heal fast!" Sticks and stones were primitive man's first toys, weapons, counters, tools. Let's not ban them from kids' lives; rather let's ensure our kids know how to use them safely.
Who is Gever Tulley? He established Tinkering School where kids get to tinker with power tools and play with sophisticated sticks. You can find out more in this TED video below. It just boggles my mind that these kids managed to build their own roller coaster!
(If this is a subject that interests you, I enjoyed reading two great articles about play recently. One by Teacher Tom, Just Try to Stop Us, and another I linked to from Paper Tigers, Returning to Childhood: Lessons from a Six Year-Old by Tom O'Leary.)