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Do We Trust Our Kids To Grow Up On Their Own In Their Own Way?

In 1972 Roger Hart in England did a fascinating and different doctoral thesis.    He moved to a rural England town and for two years tacked the movement of children in that town.  He wanted to create what he called “a geography of Children.” He created maps on how far away from home the children would go.  He didn’t want to interview parents, which was the way most people did research. He wanted to talk to the children. He wanted to explore their minds and thoughts in a natural setting.   The principal of the school even let him have a room in the school where he could talk to the kids.

                                      (Good luck trying to do this today)

What Hart really wanted to do was just follow the kids around when they played and ask them how it was going. The children trusted him and took him places that had not taken any other adult. They shared secrets with him and took pride in what they did on their own and then getting his approval.

The kids’ area of play and exploration grew as they got older. By fifth grade they were able to go just about anywhere they wanted. They learned how to navigate traffic, look out for each other and become independent along the way.

The BBC did a documentary where the girls took the people from the BBC to forts they had built. The kids had created their own world and were proud of it. They got totally absorbed in it. It was there’s. They owned it. Their bodies and brains were one with nature. Children were helping the other children to exist and learn in a brand new place created by their imaginations and the natural environment they immersed in.

In 2004 hart returned to the town and looked up the kids he had studied and interacted. His first interaction with a family ended up being done in the backyard of their home. The mom stayed close to her child. What fascinated me though was the children’s reluctance to talk to Hart alone.

Written by : Jennifer