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Facilitator Tips Episode 52

How Safe Is Too Safe?

This week’s Facilitator Tips episode continues the conversation started in Episode 51 to challenge you to consider the difficult question, are you being too safe?

When I hear the term “as safe as possible,” a little piece of me inside dies because this often means too much ‘safety’ for the wrong reasons. There are many modern indicators that suggest that safety has gone too far and I provide an alternative viewpoint.

Click the play button below to learn where your approach falls on the safety spectrum.

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Video Transcript

Hi there folks and welcome to Episode 52 of the Facilitator Tips video series.

My name is Mark Collard, I’m an experiential trainer and an author, and in our last episode, we looked at how do we keep our group safe. I want to extend that conversation to understand how safe is too safe.

Now no doubt you have also heard this term, to make things as safe as possible. It sounds like a really responsible thing to do, doesn’t it? But it kind of makes me cringe a little bit. Now I will admit, I’m a little bit old school. I’ve been in this field for 30 years and there were things we were doing back then that we clearly should not be doing anymore.

But I feel like the pendulum has swung too far. It doesn’t take much to look around in our 21st-century program environment to understand that maybe things are too safe. For example, we removed certain types of apparatus from children’s playgrounds. We put very soft cushioning as the soft fall area. We use two carabiners where one was totally okay in the belay application. Even things like the science that shows how far kids roam from their homes. A generation ago compared to today, kids roam about 5% of that same area that only 30 years ago kids roamed a lot further.

So I’m concerned that we actually make things too safe. We make them as safe as possible. But there’s some real benefits in helping a group within the parameters of making it as safe as necessary.

Here’s a good example. When I think about what is possible for a group, what helps them be productive or successful, I help them create their own guidelines and parameters. I could just simply say to them okay, in order to make this safe we need to do this, this, this, and this. But I could say okay, over to you. What would help your group keep this as safe a learning environment as is possible?

And then naturally there needs to be some wiggle room, a chance for them to maybe make some mistakes. Naturally, we don’t want people to be hurt. You have the final decision to make. But of course allowing the group to actually invest in their ability to keep one another safe, otherwise, they just look to you, and then, of course, they’ll blame you if someone gets hurt, and that’s not useful to anybody.

So what about you? Leave a comment in the section here connected to this video. How do you make things from what is safe as possible, almost as if the group is within a glass box and not allowed to leave the classroom or leave their home or training room, to what is safe as necessary. Give us an example or maybe you’ve got a question. Maybe you prefer and would challenge me suggesting that you would prefer to keep it as safe as possible, you don’t want any injuries. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that we have a laissez-faire approach and anything goes, absolutely not. But I think sometimes we can make it too safe. What do you think?

Thanks so much for watching. If you enjoyed, maybe even just being asked this question, please share it with your colleagues and maybe get their opinion as well.

Otherwise, I’ll look forward to seeing you in our next episode of the Facilitator Tips video series. Bye for now.