Risky business

Why do I take some risks and not others? I suppose it’s about how well I can foresee a potential positive outcome against a negative result, and the severity and likelihood of each. But that makes the whole subject sound like an entirely rational calculation, which is not what it feels like in real life. Personally speaking, my judgements are often intuitive, and shaped by past experience.

We seem to think ever more about the risks facing children and young people. But how can we think about them usefully?

It’s a subject that is perhaps particularly important to Opening Minds schools. Learning centred around the development of competences will usually have a greater emphasis on experience and independence – developing the ability to understand and to do. Our thoughts and feelings about risk can shape the learning experiences we design, and the judgements and choices young people are able to make.

Equally, the degree of inequality in Britain means that some young people will have very different risks to manage in their lives, and differing resources to help them excercise good judgement.

So, how do we help young people develop the best understanding of how to handle risk in their lives?

This is a question that the RSA have been thinking hard about.  The Risk and Childhood report, launched in October, helps us consider the risks children and young people face in everyday life and how we should respond.

Now, we are developing a fun, interactive Online Psychometric Tool that can be used by young people to help them understand the risks in their lives, how they can approach them wisely, and where they can go to get help.

 We want to involve schools and young people in this development process, and particularly schools working with the Opening Minds competences for Managing Situations.

If you want to find out more, leave a comment or drop us a line.



Filed under RSA Risk

3 responses to “Risky business

  1. Lesley James

    Risky business and the new Schools Network have much in common because for the Schools Network to have a major impact (as per Opening Minds) staff in schools will have to take risks. They will have to try out new things, some of which will work and some may not. Their judgment will be tested – which risks are worth taking and what will be the likely impact if things go right – or wrong.

  2. Sian Aynsley

    I think this will be particularly relevant in inner city schools where young people are tending more and more to carry weapons because essentially they feel unsafe in their surroundings. The inability to manage risk means they are unaware that by carrying a knife or gun they are actually making themselves and their friends more vulnerable, not less. Any tool which can help young people find ways of resolving conflict and minimising risk in their own lives would be very welcome both at schools and by society at large!

  3. Ian

    The report makes a similar point, Sian. It argues that inequality effects not just the kinds of risks young people are exposed to, but also the risks they will expose themselves to.

    Young people who have a greater proximity of choice for a range of risky behaviours, and have fewer expectations regarding the future can ‘lack commitments and motivations…that provide a framework within which to make life choices’.

    Not only that, but declining levels of social mobility mean that people who begin life in this situation are increasingly likely to stay there.

    It would be fascinating to hear more about schools’ work in this area…

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