Taking Risks

“It’s in the act of having to do things that you don’t want to that you learn something about moving past the self. Past the ego.”
Bell Hooks

“People say to me all the time, “You have no fear.” I tell them, “No, that’s not true. I’m sacred all the time. You have to have fear in order to have courage. I’m a courageous person because I’m a scared person.”
Ronda Rousey

“In a world that’s changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.”
Mark Zuckerberg

The screen time versus green time debate hit an all-time high during the extended 2021 lockdown of Greater Sydney and many parts of regional NSW. Watching children glued to screens for entertainment and schooling was alarming for many Gen X and Millennial parents whose childhood experiences were vastly different.

But what is the solution to this dilemma and what are the impacts on children of too much screen time and not enough green time?

There is a wide body of research into the benefits of green/nature time and much that has been written about how many hours children should be in front of a screen, but none of these provide us with a holistic vision of childhood, growing up and learning about the world. Acclaimed Australian author John Marsden’s new book, Take Risks: raising kids who love the adventure of life, presents a truly compelling vision for childhood and education. He argues passionately for a childhood that will prepare children adequately for the demands of adulthood. At the heart of his vision is a childhood infused with challenge, adventure, camaraderie, failures, dirt, resourcefulness, and meaning.

He writes, “Ultimately the goal is to help them develop a capacity for taking a proactive, thoughtful, and even creative approach to life’s difficulties. Formulating a range of strategies is not just for crises, of course. It can help bring about improvements in an extraordinary range of areas, and can result in wonderful experiences.”

Marsden’s call to action, fires a warning shot at many in our society whom he believes are determined to ensure childhood is overly safe, banal, and uninspiring. At Tudor House, we wrestle with the same issues Marsden muses over and seek to create consistent learning experiences for the girls and boys that inspire them in the present and prepare them for the future.

For 125 years the Tudor House DNA has been defined by challenge, adventure and risk taking. This approach has forced Tudorians from all eras to step outside of their comfort zones, face fears and achieve beyond their perceived limits with the care, support and nurturing of peers and teachers.

Over the years there have been broken bones, scraped knees, trips in the back of an ambulance and plenty of band aids, but injuries heal and the growth from these formative learning experiences lasts a lifetime.

One of the things that has amazed me in the first few months of leading Tudor has been the number of Old Tudorians who have come to visit the school. They have come to reminisce, walk the grounds, soak in the aura and share stories about ‘the best time of their lives’.

Why is taking risks and adventure so important for our kids? Because whether we like it or not, risk is woven into the fabric of our lives. We live with ignorance and uncertainty every single day. Each day brings a thousand unknowns and the need to wisely navigate them. When exposed to risk in multiple contexts during childhood, children are taught to make wise decisions, confront the illusion of certainty, embrace adversity, and confidently tackle whatever is at hand.

It is also worth noting that managing risk is not confined to life beyond the four walls of the classroom, but rather a central part of all aspects of a Tudorians’ school experience. There are risks to manage and overcome on the low-ropes course, but there are also risks in academic endeavours as new skills are learnt, confronting topics are discussed and as poems are recited to peers or the entire school.

It is possible to have challenge and risk in front of a screen and from the comfort of the lounge room or a manicured back yard, but these opportunities pale in comparison to those that Tudorians face daily. 169 acres is a lot of land to immerse yourself in and there are endless possibilities for risk, adventure, and discovery. What is so extraordinary about school life for our Tudorians isn’t simply that we offer a lot of green time, but that through our vision for childhood and education we lay the foundation that will enable them to truly embrace all that life on earth has to offer.

Mr Adam Larby
Head of Tudor House

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