Risktaking and discovery

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I urge you to read a recent feature article from The Atlantic, The Overprotected Kid, by Hana Rosin. It's very long, but well worth reading to the very end.

Being a teacher, as I read this article I thought about how Rosin's ideas relate to my experience: school playgrounds I've seen; the reality of school recess on those playgrounds; thinking about the new  IB Learner Profile attributes; and with the concept of the PYP (and MYP) curriculum model in mind. 

I wonder, can the "inside" of the school-classroom-curriculum propose that
  • "We nurture our curiosity, developing skills for inquiry and research. We know how to learn independently and with others. We learn with enthusiasm and sustain our love of learning throughout life.
  • We develop and use conceptual understanding, exploring knowledge across a range of disciplines. We engage with issues and ideas that have local and global signi ficance.  
  • We use critical and creative thinking skills to analyse and take responsible action on complex problems. We exercise initiative in making reasoned, ethical decisions.
  • We express ourselves con fidently and creatively in more than one language and in many ways. We collaborate e ffectively, listening carefully to the perspectives of other individuals and groups.
  • We act with integrity and honesty, with a strong sense of fairness and justice, and with respect for the dignity and rights of people everywhere. We take responsibility for our actions and their consequences.
  • We critically appreciate our own cultures and personal histories, as well as the values and traditions of others. We seek and evaluate a range of points of view, and we are willing to grow from the experience.
  • We show empathy, compassion and respect. We have a commitment to service, and we act to make a positive di fference in the lives of others and in the world around us.
  • We understand the importance of balancing di fferent aspects of our lives—intellectual, physical, and emotional—to achieve well-being for ourselves and others. We recognize our interdependence with other people and with the world in which we live.
  • We thoughtfully consider the world and our own ideas and experience. We work to understand our strengths and weaknesses in order to support our learning and personal development." (The new IB Learner Profile)
After reading the Atlantic feature about how "a preoccupation with safety has stripped childhood of independence, risk taking, and discovery—without making it safer", I  thought about how this relates to what goes on inside a classroom. Considering all sorts of contrasts current in current educational writing led me to the idea that perhaps the emphasis on testing, scores and accountability inside a school is the mirror of "safe playgrounds", and another aspect of a childhood under control, as described by Hana Rosin in her Atlantic piece.

And that led me to wonder about discussions within the PYP  community as to how the play facilities provided by a school outside the classroom, outside the school building, reflect the PYP framework for learning. Does the concept of "recess" or "break" often become simply a timetable consideration, rather than a part of the pedagogical picture, with a continued emphasis on learning?  Does the play space and equipment provided reflect what is expected, or affordable, rather than provide an environment that would encourage critical and creative thinking? I think that sometimes a school's support for  Learner Profile begins and ends at the school door.