Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tell it like it is Tuesday: School rules gone mad?


Conversation in our house lately has often turned to all the school rules that keep cropping up at Youngest Son and Middle Son's school. Years ago, there was the 'no balls' rule, implemented after a ball hit another child. This rule didn't last very long. I presume because too many parents would have immediately complained. Already our kids couldn't run in certain parts of the school playground ('too much danger of collision') and the idea that they couldn't even play a game of handball or shoot a few hoops was shudder-worthy.

Middle Son recently informed me that the latest rule to be implemented was that the playground equipment was now to be used as 'an obstacle course' and that students, 'shouldn't spend too much time on one spot of the playground equipment'. Although my immediate response was, 'Whaaaat?' having thought about this a little more, I've come to the conclusion that perhaps this rule was made so that students won't hog the slide or the climbing wall or block the tunnel from use and, at least, it keeps them moving. After all, as I mentioned above, they can't run in most of the school grounds and besides, aren't we all keen to combat a society of increasingly overweight/obese/inactive kids?

But surely this rule would be near impossible to police? Do we really need teachers wandering around the play equipment during lunch asking students to 'move on'? As the mother of a son who was followed in to the school toilets on a number of occasions last year and pushed around by a few of his fellow students (dare I use society's mostly overused term 'bullied'?), I would agree with tv and radio personality, Sami Lukis, who, on one of the morning shows today, said she'd like to see teachers utilise what time they have in addressing bullying in schools.

Hear, hear.

These comments by Ms Lukis came after it was reported today that Drummoyne Public School had banned handstands and cartwheels in their playground. *sigh* Seriously? I mean, British Bulldog, maybe, but handstands and cartwheels? Both are great for core strength, balance ... and it's, you know, EXERCISE.

I know that parents are partly to blame here. Hold on, let me rephrase that. I know that over-concerned parents who want to constantly wrap their kids in cotton wool are partly to blame for all these rules. Some kids come home with a graze on their knee and some parents (like me) will give them a little hug and tell them about the time they fell on the CONCRETE playground at school and ended up with three MASSIVE grazes that later created AWESOME scabs. But other parents will take one look at Little Johnny's knee and next thing they're up at the school complaining to the principle that their child wasn't being supervised appropriately.

Add to that, that we seem to be more and more going the American route and becoming more of a litigious society, I'm certain that most of these ridiculous rules are put in place to protect schools from being sued by over-zealous parents with too much time on their hands and whose children are far, far too precious.

But having said that, perhaps banning running and balls and gymnastics will save one, two, maybe three kids per year from any slightly serious harm, but what will banning these activities do for our younger generation? I'll tell you what I think: It will make them weak. We will breed a society of under-achievers who are too afraid to do anything because they won't want to take any risks in life whatsoever. If we teach our kids that everything is 'too dangerous' they'll never take those chances that will help them to become stronger adults and prepare them for the big, bad world. Not only that, but by stopping kids from being kids we'll encourage inactivity, then you can say hello to more health problems when our kids are our age.

Hell, we may as well give them all gaming devices to take to school so they can sit safely on the ground during lunch and play their hearts out. Sure, their eyesight and their brains will be shot before too long, but at least they'll be safe, right?

*shakes head in dismay*