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(20 Posts)
PRINTMISS Wed 05-Aug-15 08:18:22

Not the traditional education type, but life learning. Recently my sil sent me a video, I think it was on YouTube of a group of young boys back in the late '50s early '60s playing on a builders site, near his home town, and he remembers doing this. There seemed to be no one in charge, this was not an organised play-ground, just a group of youngsters thoroughly enjoying themselves, yes I know dangerous too, but they were all learning how to share, how to help someone build a slide which was obviously not going to work, that bricks will not stand too high if they are not even, there was a small fire, and someone had some sausages. They were going to go home with splinters in their hands, grazed knees and quite a few bruises, clothes a bit of a mess too - but they were going home tired and happy. I am sad that children seem to have lost that freedom, but do recognise of course that these days 'elfnsafty come first.

vampirequeen Wed 05-Aug-15 09:19:13

I grew up on a building site. Every evening and weekend we played on the scaffolding and in the part built houses. I even sat on the top of the church bell tower before it was enclosed which must have been around 60 feet above the ground. Our favourite game was to jump from ceiling joist to ceiling joist 10 feet or so above the concrete floor. The builders tried to stop us. They would tie planks to the ladders to hide the rungs....we just climbed up the side or the back of the ladder grin We also played 'house' in full size houses. Imagine the joy of really having a room that could be the kitchen, the lounge etc.

Yes we fell. Yes we got grazed knees etc but apart from one friend who broke her leg no one ever got really badly hurt and she could have just as easily broken her leg on a climbing frame in the park.

We learned to take calculated risks. To help and support each other. To play freely. To deal with being bored. We used our imaginations and got lots of exercise.

Nowadays people are so afraid of accidents that they wrap their children in cotton wool. I dread to think what this molly coddled, entertained generation will grow up to be.

Luckygirl Wed 05-Aug-15 09:26:07

The Forest School movement is redressing some of this - I am not sure if it exists in urban areas. The children at our local primary school do a huge amount of their learning out of doors, come rain or shine.

They make fires, cook, do practical maths, run about, climb trees, write about what they have done, re-enact historical times in the outdoor theatre etc. The school is full of warm waterproof oversuits and piles of muddy wellies. Quite a few bruises and the occasional splinter - but it is all a learning experience, and they are getting fresh air (and rain!) and exercise at the same time.

annsixty Wed 05-Aug-15 09:29:58

I think we all learn a lot from such experience but most of it would be frowned on today.
I can point to less hazardous things, that children do in the home. My DH has always been paranoid about the GC when young, banging their heads on furniture when playing hide and seek and catching fingers in sliding doors. Yes I know it might be painful but my attitude has always been if they learn for themselves they will be more careful in future. We can't wrap them in cotton wool. I also think in the situation you cite it is easy to see people with leadership qualities come to the fore. The bosses of the future.

annodomini Wed 05-Aug-15 09:34:40

My two youngest DSs have forest school, though I don't know how often they have it. For them it's more than supplemented by Cubs and Beavers where they have plenty of outdoor activities and frequent camps. Not all Cubs/Beavers/Scouts have such good provision. After the war, when building began again on our road, we had great fun playing in the foundations of the new houses. I don't recall any injuries, nor do I remember being forbidden by my usually anxious mother.

annsixty Wed 05-Aug-15 09:43:36

luckygirl my DD is the manager of a preschool in a deprived area (some of the children are referrals from SS) and they work on those principals. The children are outside most of the time they have a mud kitchen with pans and trays and learn to play together in situations many have not experienced before. Some have sat in front of the TV for hours. The good thing is the learning curve of the parents who are slowly starting to take part in activities, never having really played with their children before. DD has even got fathers with little previous interest helping to create a garden. A bit off topic, sorry, but she just loves going to work now.

Greyduster Wed 05-Aug-15 11:08:45

where I grew up in the early fifties, there were still areas which were designated 'bomb sites' - we played on them when we weren't running wild in the woods. There were bits of old buildings, and old bricks (which we frequently dropped on our toes or trapped our fingers with) to make dens, and holes to use as trenches in our war games! No one ever gave a thought to getting hurt, but you were never that far away from an adult - even if it wasn't your adult, everyone knew everyone else's children. When my children were growing up, we lived for a time on the edge of a disused airfield in Essex. Many of the old WW2 buildings were still there, including some with access underground - and though I strictly forbade my two to go anywhere near them, I discovered only recently from DD (now 44) that everyone, including her - my little paragon of virtue!- blatantly ignored the rules and explored these with impunity on a regular basis! Heartstopping! Her son, my only grandson, has no such freedoms. The only time he goes anywhere without his parents or ourselves, is when he goes to Cub camp, and even there they are, of course, supervised.

Lilygran Wed 05-Aug-15 16:19:46

My DGS are doing interesting things in Scouts, as they did in Cubs and Beavers. They've demolished the old Scout Hut and built a retaining wall as well as lighting fires, cooking indoors and out, camping in real tents and bivouacs. It's much more supervised than what PRINTMISS describes but still reasonably wild and free activities and very useful skills.

Penstemmon Wed 05-Aug-15 16:50:09

Whilst I agree wholeheartedly that children need to learn to take risks, play independently and generally have a load of fun outdoors it would be foolish to ignore the dangers of playing on building sites. I recall a child died quite recently when exploring a building site.

Forest school is great! I have taken many classes to Forest School sessions!
But rules are clear so that the children can enjoy the big outdoors safely.

H&S is often used as a preventative rather than as a 'risk assessment' so something can happen. Unfortunately over litigious families, threatening to sue institutions for various injuries have created this cotton wool approach to childhood and caused some school etc to err on the side of over caution!

I can say in my experience as a HT for every parent who wants their child to experience 'risk' there are twice as many who are ready to come in and demand explanations for every minor bump and bruise and try to suggest neglect and lack of care!! If you have 100+ kiddies in a playground by the law of averages a few will have an accident!!

Anya Wed 05-Aug-15 16:56:01

Agree about Cubs and Scouts, which of course admit girls too these days. GS1 has been lost in the woods in the dark, floated off down the Avon in a kayak and had to be towed back by the rescue boat, built fires, camped in a thunder storm and generally had a wonderful time.

He's actually a bit of a wuzz generally but seems to take all this in his stride.

Penstemmon Wed 05-Aug-15 17:05:58

When I camped with GG we had to dig our own trench for the earth latrines! the "cubicles" were created by stakes and sacking. grin

How many parents would be happy for that today??

Luckygirl Wed 05-Aug-15 17:41:00

My girls (in their role as parents) would not bat an eyelid at latrines like that - I am sure they cannot be alone.

Anya Wed 05-Aug-15 17:42:10

Did you have to catch your breakfast too? grin

Penstemmon Wed 05-Aug-15 18:19:42

No but we had to walk a long way to the farm to collect the water, milk and the eggs! Arkengarthdale 1963!

My daughters would not worry about earth closets for their kids either,,,but I know a lot who would! They are actually not permitted any more!

joseanderson Tue 05-Dec-23 06:17:34

Message deleted by Gransnet. Here's a link to our Talk guidelines.

RosiesMaw Tue 05-Dec-23 06:37:24


NotSpaghetti Tue 05-Dec-23 08:27:27

vampirequeen - I was "brought home" by police as a girl for playing on a building site nearly next door to me. My mother was not happy.

It was at the end of a lane so it was mostly possible to avoid the police by escaping into the woods behind it.

Grantanow Tue 05-Dec-23 10:50:19

I think children do not get early experience in assessing risk - the chance that something may happen, the downside outcome if it does happen and the cost of repair or mitigation - which carries on into adult life.

welbeck Tue 05-Dec-23 12:39:39

the whole attitude to and about being a child has changed so much, in one generation.
apart from physical risks, one of the biggest differences is the degree of supervision and control that parents have now, even with teenagers.
when i was young, the vast majority of people were working at age 15, and contributing to the household.
also even as young children, certainly junior age, there was an assumption that we protected our parents, didn't tell them things that would upset them, tried not to embarass them, ot 'show them up', all pull together in the face of outsiders.
now children seem more passive, are being done to so much more, acted upon, rather acting for themselves.
i realise this is an over simplification, and generalising.
but i do think many children could be given more responsibility in the home, to help in its running.
then maybe they wouldn't see parents, even into old age, as their staff.

HelterSkelter1 Thu 07-Dec-23 06:39:54

This thread dates from 2015. How on earth or why has it suddenly reappeared? Is the deleted post the reason?