Like many other college-educated, NPR-listening, middle-class white parents in America, I've read the latest cover story in The Atlantic, "The Overprotected Kid." In it, Hanna Rosin argues that American parents put too much emphasis on safety, and it's killing kids' creativity and courage.
The solution Rosin offers is a more adventurous kind of play, a kind of play that is possible in an entirely different kind of playground. The example she gives is an "adventure playground" known as The Land in Great Britain's North Wales:
The Land is a playground that takes up nearly an acre at the far end of a quiet housing development in North Wales. It's only two years old but has no marks of newness and could just as well have been here for decades. The ground is muddy in spots and, at one end, slopes down steeply to a creek where a big, faded plastic boat that most people would have thrown away is wedged into the bank. The center of the playground is dominated by a high pile of tires that is growing ever smaller as a redheaded girl and her friend roll them down the hill and into the creek.
The Land has already inspired a documentary film, and Rosin isn't the only American who's flown across the pond just to see it.
But here's the thing: You don't have to go all the way to Britain to see creative kids playing independently among piles of junk. Poor kids in America do that all the time.