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TED | TEDBlog: 5 dangerous things you should let your kids do: Gever Tulley on

What do you think? {Michael}

Gever Tulley, founder of the Tinkering School, talks about our drive to overprotect our children — and spells out 5 dangerous things you should let your kids do. Allowing kids the freedom to explore, he says, will make them stronger and smarter and actually safer. This talk comes from TED University 2007, a pre-conference program where TEDsters share ideas. (Recorded March 2007 in Monterey, California. Duration: 9:20.)

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January 3, 2008 - Posted by | Parents and Children, video | ,


  1. Well, as both a teacher AND a parent, I have to say, I was REALLY impressed. I wasn’t EXPECTING to be impressed, from the title of this video, but I WAS.

    OK, I think I would draw the line at power tools for second graders. I teach Grade Three. Some kids could handle this, but there is just too much potential at this age for accidents–even another kid bumping into somebody and causing a cut-off finger, or worse…

    BUT, the way he had them playing with fire looks quite safe, even safer than the girl/boy scouts.

    I don’t think we can go on having pocket knives in most environments, especially in the city. Yet, I think having a pocket knife is a valuable thing (never having had one myself) but I think scouting still teaches this. Should we teach kids how to fish with fishhooks? Those can be dangerous to handle, too, but at least people aren’t walking around with them in the middle of the street. In the days of George Washington, and even much later, it was common to give every six-year-old boy his own ax. Although I wouldn’t advocate it today, obviously a boy needed a lot of years of practice to become competent with an ax by age 10-12 or whenever he was considered big enough to help with the family chores.

    I recall my mother, who grew up in the 1930’s telling of many kids on farms and in rural areas who were taught to drive from early ages, in order to handle the family tractor, and be able to drive the car in cases of emergency. Today the issue is something else. Americans let kids even now get a learner’s permit to drive at 15 3/4, with a full license at 16. Europeans and much of the rest of the world permits it only at age 18. The issue is do most young people drive RESPONSIBLY on public streets. In the third world, you have few ADULTS driving responsibly on public streets!

    I LOVED the idea about taking things apart. I have some old radios that are broken, and I’m going to do this with my teenage daughter who has never had an opportunity to do something like that (nor have I….)

    I liked the idea of spear throwing. I never learned to throw a ball (it didn’t interest me) and my main throwing activity has been sitting in a chair, throwing trash across to the trashcan, instead of getting up (as I am on crutches). In the last few years, I’ve gotten much better, and I can see his point about this developing certain areas of the brain. Spears would have been interesting to me (not sure why, but I always hated ball, and still hate it). I’m going to try something like this with my daughter, maybe in the house, pitching things into a can, maybe as a game.

    Madame Monet

    Comment by wpm1955 | January 3, 2008

  2. He is saying is that children can learn and most learn to control things they will eventually encounte rin their lives. I t’s better if they are taught, under supervision , to handle those challenges . He is also saying that in other cultures children have mastered these dangerous things since childhood because they are expected to and are exposed toteh dangers in a learning environment. When is the correct time to expose them? I sure don’t know! But they should. Not necessarily in his school or HOW he teaches, but they should. The saying that knowledge is power applies to all, so we should give them power over their lives. We already teach them not to talk with strangers, bur fire and all these other things he explains are let to happen in a random way in their lives, risking it will happen when parents are not around….. TheY should be able to learn about These things so they have power and basic personal knowledge to react becuase if that is left to fate: it may happen when you are not around, will cause the child to panic, probably render him/her unable to react and make him fearful, maybe forever. The sooner, the better, I say, in the proper way and personal moment.

    As you say, some children of the same age have different capacities and skills so they should be assessed properly before they are thrown into the unknown. I remember when I first placed my nephew of 2-3 years in front of my old 68 Mustang wheel. Of course, it was not moving, but I think it gave him a sense of control and self esteem. His smile and body language was like that of my other nephew, his son, in the picture that I posted yesterday with my sister. This man loves cars and knows how to drive them well, never had a car accident; which of course is not because of that, buy may be because he likes to handle them properly, in a controlled way, and understands they are not toys. Of course, I don’t have children, I don’t know if I would say differently if I had them!!!

    Comment by Yolanda | January 3, 2008

  3. Happy new Year Michael and everybody else on this thread!
    Comments will follow when we are reconnected to internet in Turre (our other place)…

    Comment by Miki | January 4, 2008

  4. The world does seem to have become more fearful. There was a talk show where the host asked a listener/caller if he let his children play alone in the local park. Absolutely not was the reply. Well then when was the last time a child was molested or abducted from your small town city park? Never he replied, but he still would not let his kids play there.

    This is perhaps a bit on the unsafe side: I remember one Thanksgiving out on my cousin’s farm in Iowa. My parents left early to drive back to town. A few minutes go by and my father comes roaring into the farm house in a rage as my cousin has let my son and my cousin’s, both 5 at the time, drive the tractor on their own down the field while he came back into the house. My cousins rather weak response to my father was, “well I put it in tractor low”.

    Comment by wrjones | January 4, 2008

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