Let them do dangerous things…

I let my children do dangerous things…

They have built fires by themselves.

They sometimes swim when it is dark…

Sometimes I just pick them up and toss them into water that might be too shallow…

Sometimes when we are walking in the woods they just jump into rivers and swim without me checking the water first…

And sometimes I let them touch dead things that maybe should be left alone…

Once I brought my daughter to the playground that is at her school. I climbed up on the jungle gym and sat at the top. My daughter yelled at me saying that it was not allowed…the teachers said it was too dangerous. Well, well, well. So we decided to break the law. She climbed up, and after scanning the area for teachers, very tentatively sat at the top. She was convinced after all, that if she sat at the top she would plummet to her death. Now the jungle gym does not look high, but it is the Empire State building for little kids, and the view at the top is spectacular.

It is funny to put something within reach of the kids but then tell them you can’t make it to the top.

In school, and especially social studies, we fill kids’ heads with stories of people who have moved, inspired, and shaken the world. We hold them up as models, exemplars, as people we all should strive to be more like. The rebels. People who challenged the status-quo, and lifted up those who were too complacent to act. We preach to the kids “make a difference.” We tell them to “be the change they wish to see in the world.” We put quotes on bulletin boards motivating them to dream “big.” There is continuous prodding to get them to be independent, be a leader, and who has not uttered or written on a wall that they should all “shoot for the stars.”

All of that is followed up by a subliminal “not yet.” We show them the top, but we do not allow them to attempt to climb until they are out of school and into the “real world.”

We focus on teaching them the rules. We make sure they stay under control. On the first day we make them sign the student handbook that outlines all the things they cannot do. We focus on having them follow a curriculum and activities written by people who will never meet them. We tell them to grow up and change the world.

Here’s the thing. You have to be willing to do dangerous things if you want to change the world. You need to be the person that everyone else thinks is a little crazy…because “people who are crazy enough to change the world, are the ones who do.” And please, I do not wish for all of my kids to become the President or become a war hero. Sometimes you need to be a bit crazy to simply change yourself and decide not to be what school and the media tells you to be. In our world just living in a small cabin in the woods and doing small jobs to satisfy one’s needs is crazy, deciding to buy all your food locally and eating in season is crazy, and so is taking on the local board of education as they move to accepting another corporation's product to save the schools.

One thing is for sure…schools will never encourage kids to exhibit a little crazy behavior, until teachers start to act a little crazy themselves. Kids will always be who we are, and not who we want them to be.

This post would not be complete without the video below:

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