Monday, August 18, 2008

Too Much Safety & Liability: One Problem, Online and Off

I suspect I disagree with Philip K. Howard on many issues, but I agree with this the for this both online and off:

Safety is meaningful only in the context of other benefits and risks. Safety always involves trade-offs -- of opportunities, of scarce resources and, especially in the case of children's play, of learning to manage risk. The question is whether the trade-off makes sense. Soft rubber matting will cushion any fall. This is probably a good thing, at least in situations where children may fall on their heads. But rubber matting also gets hot.

There's only one solution. Someone on behalf of society must be authorized to make these choices. Courts must honor those decisions. Otherwise, the pious accusations of safety fanatics, empowered by the nearly universal fear of being sued, will guarantee a cultural spiral downwards toward the lowest common denominator.

The twist is, as Howard continues:

For America's children today, that means spending more than six hours per day staring at a screen. Is that the way we want our children to grow up?

If you look at it that way, maybe I don't want my kid using the computer in school all the time.

The answer, of course, is more freedom and diversity of activity both inside the school and out.

Via The Caretaker.

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