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*



  1. Oh, so well said Jodie. Totally agree. Let's focus on the stuff that really harms our kids - bullying.

  2. Yes. Yes. And YES!!

    I had the same reaction when I heard this this morning too, Jodie. Whatever happened to kids just being kids? Surely we don't want to go down the path to where America is now; everyone suing everyone and no-one being held accountable for their own actions. There are probably more lawyers per capita of population in the US as a consequence. :/

  3. Honestly couldn't have said it better myself.
    I know for a fact there are some teachers who have nothing better to do than to gossip with their coworkers or complain about certain students instead of you know, looking at how honorable a role they have in shaping so many human beings.
    And yes, there are too many parents who live life too much by the "what if?" game that their children won't know what to do when they make a mistake. Sometimes it's hard to sit back and watch your child in a hard situation, but they need to be given the chance to figure things out on their own.

  4. Hi Jodie,

    It is certainly getting ridiculous with more and more rules being imposed on our kids in school - it is starting to turn into a prison.

    I mean banning balls?? It's laughable!!

  5. My son has been hit by a ball in the face on more than one occasion and had a nosebleed. He goes to the first aid room and gets fixed up and the next break he's off running around the playground again. And I wouldn't want it any other way.

    This is one of the main reasons I'm happy that I moved to Germany from the UK. Kids can just be kids and do what kids do and enjoy life. Of course, things happen, but there's not this over-reaction to it. Then the kids just dust themselves down and get on with their lives. Just like they're supposed to.

    It's fun doing handstands and running around and playing ball as well as being good exercise. Those over zealous parents are actually depriving their children. I wish they could see that.

    I know that it's hard to watch your child be hurt, but it's a part of life. And like you said Jodie, how are those kids wrapped in so much cotton wool going to cope as adults?

    Two of my children recently joined the volunteer fire service. They have a ball. Last week they were helping to put up all of the Christmas trees and lights in the village. They do search and rescue games all over the village with walkie talkies. They do team strengthening games so that later, should they become fire men and women, they can work together and use their physical strength together. The fire service here is a big part of the community dong a lot of valuable work (not just the dangerous stuff).
    My kids love taking part in every exercise. For me, I know it gives them a chance to do a bit of wild stuff in a structured and safe environment and I don't have to watch, so I haven't got that terrible fear welling up inside me about them getting hurt. And when they come home they're excitedly telling me all about their adventures.

    It could well lead to them joining the fire service. Which is a dangerous job. I don't relish the idea. My son has actually decided he wants to work with the disaster teams that deal with all the most dangerous emergencies. He's 12 so he still might change his mind! But whatever he decides it will be his decision, not mine. And ultimately, we need people who have courage to look after us. And who will that be if we instil fear into our children?

    I'm so glad there are parents like you in Australia Jodie. Without you guys, what does the future hold?


Thanks for stopping by and for sharing your thoughts. J xox