My family and I are on vacation. First one ever. We came to San Diego to enjoy the beach and some relaxation.
When we got here, I immediately showed my kids all the dangers of the ocean, the first one being the water itself.
But as we all know, very few people learn through didactic, oral presentation.
I proceeded to turn the kids loose on one of the most powerful forces on earth and let them learn their lessons.
Within an hour of swimming they began to get pushed around by the riptide and were getting dangerously close to a shelf. I had as little idea of this shelf as they did. But the lifeguard came from her tower, ran out to them and paddled out, told them what was happening and brought them back in.
The lesson that I had initiated was firmly rooted now. The kids understood what had happened and saw what the riptide could have done.
As a teacher, I knew the risk of teaching was telling them everything they needed to know, and then letting them have firsthand experience which could have hurt them, or even worse.
But the real risk was letting my fear override their need for that experience and stopping them from having their own first hand knowledge that no one will ever be able to take away.