I read this interesting article “Can a Playground Be Too Safe?” in The New York Times. The article discusses the notion that today’s playgrounds have become too safe (and boring) and may stunt children’s emotional development, leaving them with anxieties and fears. The idea being that on the playground children take risks and experience danger. Children naturally “…approach thrills and risks in a progressive manner, and very few children would try to climb to the highest point for the first time they climb. The best thing is to let children encounter these challenges from an early age, and they will then progressively learn to master them through their play over the years.”
Have you also noticed how playground equipment these days are so structured? It’s almost as if there is a pre-determined path or way to move through the equipment.
I couldn’t help but draw some parallels with the integration of technology tools in the classroom. Has our approach to children using technology become too “safe” and “structured”? Have we already determined how students will use the technology tool, channeling them through a set path? Now, I’m certainly not encouraging a complete swing on the continuum. I do know there are very serious dangers and risks to consider when young folks use technology, especially in a public arena. Rather, I encourage educators to let kids play with technology, let’s see what they come up, let’s see how they would use the tool, let’s keep it a bit more open-ended. After all, the technology tool is going to change tomorrow, it’s the “thinking” that will remain and stay useful.