Garden safety starts with spacial awareness. Children don't seem to always be aware of their body's physical location. Kids must be taught about their sense of physical space. Personal spacial values and norms vary according to culture but when adult, steel tools get involved, some things are universal.
Garden classes where children are employing tools, for me, are spent navagating children's spacial safety. As a vigilant detector, I've noticed that a girl can be completely unaware that she is armed with a two-foot, metal clipper as she skips over rocky garden terrain. A boy will be totally oblivious that he is using a shovel as a pogo stick; alone in his own creative play. First and second graders have been known to line-up swinging back to back with shovels twice as long they are, blind to the other child eight inches behind.
Tool safety is serious business. Our first Garden Agreement is "I will be safe." With Tool Privelage, students learn to handle shovels, hand tools, rakes, hoses, hand clippers, laupers. We had a highly sough-over, hand-held pick at one time and older classes get special, incredibly monitored use of the machette and hand saw.
The seriousness of which they face these tasks makes me feel like kids can handle more than society gives them credit for. If we trust them with a cell phone, shouldn't we be able to trust them with a shovel?
Valuable knowledge is gained as students learn about what one's body feels like when gripping hand clippers, or how to organize safe group work with peers using both hand and full-sized tools. Kids take garden safety seriously because they've been empowered with real tools to do important work.
No student has lost their Tool Privelage more than once. The craziest class so far happened three years ago. Injury free, but kids were so wild I had to make them put their tools on the ground and take calm steps back. Twenty minutes later, a storm swept in and lightning literally struck our campus. No wonder the kids were freaking out.
Krista Joan says:
My mission is to teach, train, and testify in resistance to the white supremacy of my ancestors. My personal choices are political, powerful, and practical. Let's trash waste.