At ULearn I was asked to contribute to a presentation. I ended up asking if I could go and give my bit in person rather than having a 3 minute video. A question was asked about giving kids the responsibility of looking after netbooks and I sort of alluded to something I'd be thinking about.
If the value of the netbooks is dependent upon a certain amount of maturity - i.e. the kids must have some sense of responsibility - then some schools could be accused of taking something away from the kids by not giving the kids responsibility. My own personal ideal:
At a young age kids are given more and more responsibility for themselves. They learn to tie their own shoes etc.
A little bit older (8-12?) and they're given responsibilities that deal with a wider context - the school. They do things like "patrols", looking after younger classes during wet days, taking on the responsibility around the cleanliness of a particular area of the school, showing guests around etc.
At a high school level I'm of the opinion that the scope should widden again. You're now looking at community. A person or two taking care of each "walking school buses" for a nearby primary school. Organising fundraising events. Perhaps gardening in public areas (I really want to see a part full of fruit trees).
This all leads up to interdependency. Instead of everyone being for themselves, they should be able to call upon resources/other people to help them out. So say you don't have access to daycare but have a job. You should be able to call upon your neighbours - ideally someone in the neighbourhood with children of their own - to look after your children while you're then able to give them a little money.
In fact, it was this sort of idea that was behind Tangleball. My abilities with certain tools should not be a limitation on the sort of project I take on. So if I needed to weld something for example, I should be able to ask someone to help me out.
And Trading Post (I swear, this is going to kick off around Christmas) is the same sort of thing. I rely on a fruit shop for lemons BUT there's a really good chance that one of my neighbours has some rotting in their backyard. I rely on lemons to make ginger beer which I'd be perfectly willing to trade for various other bits and pieces - lemons, limes, apples etc. And what's to stop people from trading things like hummus, yoghurt and bread? Hell, do you have a fisherman in the neighbourhood?
And all of this doesn't lead to me being supportive of children sailing across the world or flying planes. But I think maturity is something that's horribly overlooked (in light of reading, writing and math). Set low expectations and kids will match them every time. Sure, there's going to be some pain. But in the long run, the kids are gaining something incredibly important - something that should be seen as their right. In which case, babying them and removing all responsibility from them is taking something fundamental away. So a challenge to teachers out there, instead of saying "X person/class isn't mature enough to do Y", why not instead say "How can I prepare X person/class for the maturity needed to do Y"?