More wisdom from Teacher Tom:
“Even 2-year-olds step up to the responsibility of the real hammer. An adult still needs to be there at first, insisting on eye protection, reminding the child to find a safe area in which to get to work, one free of other people who might be hit or things that might get broken, and to focus her on the concept of targeting a nail (or a bottle cap: we’ve found that it’s quite satisfying to drive them into soft wood). It’s not a hard thing to do because a child with a hammer in his hand instantly becomes a calmer child, a more focused child. A plastic hammer is a toy; a real hammer is a responsibility, children know it, and even the youngest, even the most hyperactive, are capable of taking it on.”
“Responsibility is one of those things that is either real or it doesn’t exist. There is no halfway. No amount of lecturing on responsibility will replace the real thing. There is no way to “practice” responsibility without actually having it in your possession. If we want children to learn to be responsible, we must in fact turn over to them something that is real, and indeed, give them room to make mistakes, and that means the potential for making “wrong” choices. If there isn’t that potential, then it’s not responsibility at all: it’s a plastic hammer. And the kids know it.”
I can’t understand why MKP is so neglected. She was the first director of the NCB and author of this forgotten book (below). Tim Gill mentioned her once in a blog of his , after I enthused to him about her, he didn’t credit me — I suppose I’m not a fellow celebrity. Boohoo, woe is me. And the NCB isn’t what is used to be, I’m afraid, just another fund junkie charity business sucking up to government for contracts: a lapdog, not a guard dog. But I digress.
I commend her work to you! It was this book that, when Lesley from York Playspace introduced it to me when we ran playwork training together (thanks Lesley!), it being far better known in the under-5s arena, that fired my realisation about why I thought a lot of playwork was soppy.
“Mia Kellmer Pringle suggests that there are four significant developmental needs:-
a. The need for love and security
b. The need for new experiences
c. The need for praise and recognition
d. The need for responsibility
The Needs of Children: A personal perspective
If you’re interested, I do a little presentation on MKP’s 4 children’s needs and I have developed a simple audit tool based on her ideas.
The MKP Needs Audit is a method (in the same spirit as “First Claim’ and ‘Quality in Play’ and that new one developed by Cambridgeshire CC and John Fitzpatrick that I can’t remember the name of), for assessing the extent to which your play ‘setting’ (hate that word) is meeting all 4 of these crucial needs of children.
Email me if you’d like to know more…