Buzz Aldrin: (Former) Free-Range Kid

Hi Readers! This is a good reminder of WHY we want our kids to get out in the world, on their own. Enjoy! — L

Dear Free-Range Kids: We picked up the book Reaching for the Moon by Buzz Aldrin at the library earlier in the day. When I got to page 8, I couldn’t believe what I read:

Determination, strength, independence – those were the qualities I worshiped in my favorite movie hero, the Lone Ranger. I went to the movies every Saturday, and sometimes I even snuck in through the fire escape when I didn’t have the money to buy a ticket. I felt just like the Lone Ranger the day I set off to ride my bike across the George Washington Bridge to New York City. Ten years old, I pedaled twenty miles down unfamiliar roads and busy streets, past neighbors and strangers, out into the unknown. Just like the Lone Ranger, I didn’t need help form anyone. It took me all day, but I found the way and did it myself.

Pretty inspiring! — Melissa

Lenore here: Sure is! May I add that at a conference on play that I attended, I heard from Stuart Brown that NASA and the Jet Propulsion Lab were baffled by some of the brainiacs they were hiring to replace Buzz’s generation. Yes, the new hires were brilliant at equations and engineering, BUT they lacked a certain agility when it came to real-world problem solving. How did NASA and the JPL solve their OWN problem? They started to ask, in job interviews, about the applicants’ childhoods. Had they tinkered as kids? Built things on their own? The ones who had were the ones who got hired. So “free-time” when kids are just goofing around, making stuff, turns out to be of FUNDAMENTAL importance when it comes to succeeding in the “real” world. And beyond.– L

What's the Buzz? Independence is good for kids! (And astronauts.)