Empowering Lifeskills

some skills are just not covered by the curriculum...

I promised that I’d photoshop* this photo and add effects to the plastic lightsabres we were holding.  It took me a couple of months to get around to it and about an hour to complete.  Once I’d finished I pushed it out on to twitter as a bit of a joke.

I got a tweet back from @SharonHarper

and followed the link.  It led to a TED video of Gever Tulley (@gever).  You can watch it below.

I did all these things as a kid (and more-see number 2 of my 7 Things), though my copyright infringments were limited by the technology of the time; the cassette recorder and the transistor radio.

How many of you did the things that Gever Tulley talks about?  What about your children? What about your class?  I know I was shocked to find that my son had been using a power drill and handsaw to make a “video camera” while he was in kindergarten.  Are we too protective of our children and students?  If so… what changed and when?

Another Gever Tulley TED Talk including a rollercoaster created by 7 year olds.

*I don’t actually have photoshop, but “paint.netted” doesn’t roll of the tongue in quite the same way.

8 Responses

  1. Let’s see. As a child I:
    1. played with fire – my parents taught me how to make the BEST campfires
    2. owned my own ‘bowie’ knife – wasn’t called that but you know what it looks like
    3. threw everything – we made spears and bows and arrows (and actually i was also taught how to fire a gun!)
    4. i don’t remember pulling things to pieces … but have encouraged others to do so (especially computers)
    5a. break the dmca – i have no idea if that was law back when i was younger but as a teenager i copied records onto tapes …
    5b. drove a car – my dad had some kind of small car – it had part of the roof that slid back and i got to stand up and hang outside while he drove the car around the field then i got to drive it – don’t remember how old but pre-10

    perhaps i should share my shooting story?

  2. hi! i saw the TED video on dragonsinger57’s site, and have popped over here for a comment.

    i was a sickly child, and spent a lot of time indoors, but i too:

    1) was taught to build and maintain a fire.
    2) owned a pocketknife, and even whittled – i imagine not many kids today even recognise that word.
    3) er, ok, maybe not so much on the “throwing”. little american girls did not throw in the late 60’s/early 70’s. )
    4) not so much on the taking things apart either – again, not something encouraged for girls, and i had no brothers
    5) yes, broke dmca all the time! radio to cassette, 45 to cassette, trading said cassettes, etc! after all, once you owned it, it was yours to do with as you wish, no?
    5.5) started driving early. my girlfriend had an older boyfriend, and we would take the school bus as far as his work, then drive his car to school. she was always afraid of getting caught, so i did the actual driving. little country town, no big deal; we drove up one whole road, as it was a straight shot from the gas station to the school (does that sound small town or what?). at 14 my father put me behind the wheel, said, “this is the clutch, this is the brake, this is the gas. let me know if you have any problems.” been driving ever since, though i didn’t get my formal license until i was 17. (dad also gave me a 22 pistol and taught me how to shoot, but that wasn’t mentioned in the TED talk :O)

    i think the importance of these things, in addition to allowing children discover the world around them, also comes from the passing on from adult to child the ideals that come with the tasks, and the time spent together. what do i remember about fires? chopping & getting wood with my dad, and having him praise my fire. pocketknives? whittling with my grandparents. learning to drive? how my dad had the confidence in me to give me the basics and then let me fly.

  3. […] 16, 2009 in Uncategorized I just finished reading a blog post from @teachernz. It has an embedded video from the TED […]

  4. This has all the makings of a new web meme!

    I used to:

    1. Dig for bullets on an abandoned US WW2 aerodrome.

    2. Ride my bike all over Northamptonshire.

    3. Went on a night hike through a forest with a few friends.

    4. Rockclimbed on a local railway bridge without ropes or mats etc.

    5. Cycled around the West Highlands of Scotland with a mate at 15.

    6. Learned how to use a camping knife and went on numerous self-organised “expeditions”.

    7. Took apart, rebuilt and resprayed numerous bicycles.

    Have the child murder/abduction/ abuse stats changed significantly since the 70’s? Children are still far more likely to be harmed by people they know than any other source.

    Granted, the increase in road traffic would make me much more circumspect in allowing my kids out on the roads unsupervised, but that won’t stop me teaching them to ride safely on the roads.

    In the 6th form at secondary school we went on a winter mountaineering trip to the Cairngorms in Scotland and experienced a “white-out” blizzard on Ben MacDui. The teacher who led it was an ex-paratrooper with nothing beyond personal experience and having taken 16 previous trips. I dread to imagine the risk assessment that would be filled in for this trip now. Wouldn’t happen, and my life would have been significantly poorer for the loss.

  5. Our favourite thing to do when we were kids was to push the trampoline over next to the shed, climb on the shed roof and then jump down to the trampoline! I would freak out as a parent now, but you could get some serious jump height that way! One day, my feet went through the shed window (no damage to me) and that was the end of that.

  6. OK Let’s really go back in time.
    1. Before I was 13 I hiked and camped with a buddy (son of a ranger) in Great Smokies – just the two of us. Avoided bears, snakes, etc. We were armed – with pocket knives! But we had been taught by our fathers – both of whom were skilled woodsmen. And they trusted us!
    2. Regularly shot a rifle (my father was an EXPERT marksman and thought I should be too). Never attained that goal, but could handle a rifle quite effectively.
    3. Can’t remember when I got my first pocket knife. Maybe at age 8 or 9. ALWAYS with me now.
    4. Started and maintained campfires from maybe age 8 or 10 on.
    5. Filled and Lit Coleman lanterns, stoves, heaters – maybe the most dangerous undertaking!
    6. Not much on throwing.
    7. Avoided copying issues (as a youth) since I was a youth before xerox machines, much less tapes. and CDs. But we did have carbon paper.
    8. Drove a car from 12 on. Taught my 40+ year old aunt how to drive stick shift at age 13. What an experience!
    9. Sharpened mowing blades at 11.
    10. Painted, stained and used all sorts of chemicals at 10 and older.
    11. Was in charge of making “soap” for my dad’s garage from lanolin, ammonia and other chemicals from age 11 on. Lot’s of funny stories associated with this.
    Now a serious comment after watching the Ted speech. I don’t think it is the child’s safety that most of these laws were developed to protect. Instead I think it is corporate america who had tried to protect itself from the lawyers who think no one can be responsible for their own behavior these days. If it weren’t for the lawyers and legal actions, we might all be safer and more knowledgeable in the use of these tools and in “dangerous” situations!

  7. Great video/Talk and interesting comtributions from the comments above too.
    Is there a common denominator – parent involvement – though?
    Having had a host of experiences as a child (drove my first tractor for feeding out when I was three etc) I do know that a lot of them had a parent or adult involved in the early stages (eg. duck shooting as kids). I know that the reason my own kids haven’t enjoyed some of the same experiences is because they grew up in a city (where as I grew up on a farm) and my work place takes me away from them for much of the day when they are young, whereas my parents were around. Well, around as in somewhere on the same few hundred acre property.

  8. Thanks for sharing everyone.
    For the curious @dragonsinger57’s shooting story.
    @Kelly I think you’re right, many of these things were the transmission of knowledge from one generation to another.
    @John Strange There’s no doubt that fear of litigation is a factor in the disappearance of many of our childhood activities.
    @Dorothy In most cases you’re probably right, parent/adult involvement is the common factor. Even when children went off to experiment by themselves it was usually with implicit parental permission. Sadly, modern family structures, work habits and urban living inhibit or even prohibit “dangerous” childhood activities. In New Zealand I think we are lucky; we have managed to hang on to the “adventure” that is school camp – albeit with slightly softer, more rounded edges.