What happens when you just let children play.
He didn’t start asking “why” until he became part of a playground and risk study by Auckland University researcher Grant Schofield and his research manager, Julia McPhee, three years ago. The researchers gave 16 schools a grant of $15,000 to build their vision of a playground that would reintroduce risk and help encourage physical activity in children.
“It hadn’t occurred to me that anyone would actually abandon all school rules,” Prof. Schofield said.
Mr. McLachlan built a few play structures, but they were dismantled as part of a larger building project (he claims they’ll be resurrected somehow once the project is done). As the debris sat cordoned off with caution tape in the middle of the schoolyard, he noticed students ducking underneath, grabbing chunks of wood and metal and building their own toys.
While the caretaker and some teachers worried, Mr. McLachlan was energized to see them building makeshift seesaws and dismantling them once they got bored.
About a year ago, Mr. McLachlan quietly informed his staff that they would all just stop saying “No” when they saw a child climbing a tree or a fence, or walking toward an area that used to be “out of bounds” and no longer was. There would be no big announcement, just a silent backing away.
While many parents seemed to be on board with the new approach – the school is, after all, known for its more alternative approach – teachers were a harder sell.
“I told them, ‘If this child gets seriously hurt, I’m the one that gets blamed,'” he said. “Some of them said ‘right.'”
But the results spoke for themselves, he said. The students weren’t hurting themselves – in fact, they were so busy and physically active at recess that they returned to the classroom ready to learn. They came back vibrant and motivated, not agitated or annoyed.
“They also weren’t telling tales on each other or going ‘So and so did this to me,’ which is what teachers deal with during recess time,” he said. “There was none of that – these kids have been totally focused on what they wanted to do.”
This article speaks for itself.
Apparently children have not changed since we were allowed to run free in the woods, shoot BB guns, build life-threatening forts high in the trees and do other stuff so risky terrorism task forces would today consider us to be risks to national security.
They still survive…