Is it time for the risky classroom? Dealing with risk and uncertainty is a natural part of adult life. Yet modern children are shielded from risk at every opportunity. A pedagogical shift is required
Risk within learning environments is a much debated topic within early childhood education. The sector sees and understands the benefits of risk but often remain risk adverse. No –one wishes for children to experience injury and as such safety measures are essential. However, risk has also been shown to be essential for holistic development and learning in the early years (Lights, 2014). It is very important in the formation of many important skills and contributes greatly to children’s holistic health (Brussoni, Olsen, Pike & Sleet, 2012). Contemporary research and the most up-to-date wisdom requires educators to embrace risk and risky play in order to maximise children’s learning opportunities (Brussoni et al, 2015). It is a type of play that supports the child to encounter and overcome challenge. It includes the development of self-belief in the face of adversity, resilience building and problem solving confidence as well as physical competence and survival skills. Taking risks also transfers into skills such as judgement and risk measurement as well as tenacity and the ability to try again after failure. But is risk endangered in modern childhood? This paper presents data from the Irish Neighbourhood Play Study. This study incorporated 1688 families across 240 communities. One of the things under investigation was the engagement with risk within neighbourhood play. The results indicate that the children were engaging in very low levels of risk. If the benefits of risk are to be experienced by this generation of children, educators may need to overcome their fears and reservations and learn to embrace and incorporate risk provision into Early Childhood pedagogies.
©IATED (2017). Reproduced in Research Online with permission.