German Risk Assessment

It seems that Germany is tired of wimpy kids. They have begun building playground equipment that is NOT so safe.  

Oh, they don’t say they are tired of wimpy kids. They say that the point of “less safe” playground equipment is to help kids develop risk assessment skills.

Apparently a growing number of teachers, manufacturers and town planners have decided that they must stop striving for absolute safety. One scientist said, “If we want children to be prepared for risk, we need to allow them to come into contact with risk.” 

For instance, there is the “triitopia” a climbing frame where kids six and older can climb 32 feet up, holding on to rope ladders and the metal framework. And if a kid falls and gets hurt, that’s the point. He will either do it better next time or not do it again. He is learning risk assessment. 

Another piece of equipment that is growing in popularity is a suspension bridge that is deliberately wobbly with minimal guard rails and no safety net. It is ten million times more effective than a mother shouting “be careful.” And also more fun.

I think this is a good trend. Although nobody wants to see a kid get hurt, this is how they learn.  Kids need to know how to make risk assessments…especially if they want to farm.

Farmers make risk assessments all day every day. If you have ever looked at a worn tire, then kicked it and said, “It’ll make it,” you have done risk assessment. If you have ever disconnected an annoying safety device, you are performing risk assessment. If you have ever filled a truck over full because you only have a little ways to go…yep…risk assessment.

How did you learn this very important life skill? By doing it. You have gotten away with running bald tires and no safety devices and over-full trucks because you have tried it. You have also had blow outs, ruined vehicles and fines by the DOT. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. That, my friends, is life.

If we never had to decide whether or not to try something risky, we would never know our limits…the true limits, not the manufacturer’s suggestions. And we would never get the thrill of getting away with something, or the agony of a big, fat mistake. Life would become terribly dull. 

Even more dull would be the stories told later down at the coffee shop. They would be so boring everyone would fall asleep in their coffee cups. Which might make a fun story all by itself.

At any rate, I think these Germans are on to something. Risk assessment is something everyone needs to know. Even if you have to break an arm or leg to learn it.

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