Friday, August 31, 2007

What island are they on?

"It's like Lord of the Flies, with adults encouraging it," stated Neil Williams, an Eastern Connecticut State University phys ed professor.

There are school shootings, cliques, drugs, alcohol, too many hours of homework assigned and now one more schoolyard terror looms to the forefront..........running games and games with balls. This school year, Discovery Canyon Campus's elementary school, in Colorado Springs CO, has joined the growing list of schools that are banning that "dangerous" practice from the playgrounds.

That's correct......... the game of "Tag" and any other form of chasing, is now officially banned from the playground there. Cindy Fesgen, Assistant Principal there stated that the game was causing a lot of conflict on the playground and it was banned within a few days of school starting. She did add that running is still allowed as long as students don't run after each other.

This appears to be a growing trend within schools. In 2005, two elementary schools in the same region adopted a "Trouble-Free Playground" that did away with games like tag and replaced them with activities that reduced physical contact. Neil Williams created the P E Hall of Shame and placed dodge ball in the number one spot, claiming that it allowed the stronger kids to target and pick on the weaker kids.

Opponents of dodge ball state that the whole premise of the game is to hit someone as hard as they can and pick on those who can't. They also feel that it leaves the weakest and overweigth kids on the sidelines and there is a possible danger to the verbal abuse that may arise in a game.

"If we were going to ban dodge ball for aggressiveness, then we have to look at a whole gamut of sports---such as football, wrestling and kickball." stated Martha Kupferschmidt, director or personnel and student services at the Murray school district in Uta..

It has been reported that two-fifths of American elementary schools have either eliminated recess or are considering doing so. At many of those who still have reces, it is an overegulated playground where "Tag", tall slides, swings, teeter-totters and unsupervised running games, or just plain running is banned. The reasons cited for this include promoting safety, providing more learning time, avoiding litigation and protecting feelings.

The American Academy of Pediatrics states that undirected play allows a child to learn how to work in groups, to share, to negotiate, to resolve conflicts and learn how to stick up for themselves. Rick Hanetho, a parks manager in Schomberg IL, states that dodge ball is a favorite among the geekiest kids, the ones who won't make the school teams. He says that the game teaches quick decision making, concentration, agility and incredible hand-eye coordination.

At what point are we going to stop over-protecting kids. I don't know anyone who is in continued psychiatric care from losing at dodge ball or tag when they were a kid. If tag and dodge ball are banned........ what next? Would we also see foot races run completely inside a laned track, so that students aren't chasing each other. Why are footballs still allowed, since the object of that game is to take out a weaker opponent and the ball certainly could break a nose when thrown. Not only are children losing out on the opportunity to exercise but they are missing the chance to "grow up."

That would be the part where they learn to become a better person, work out a conflict in an acceptable manner and not become the whining adult who suffers from "road-rage" because there are 4 other "slow" people in front of them at Starbuck's. What will they ban next? ........ "Tiddly-Winks"...... because you might put an eye out, or worse, lose?

Of note:

It has come to my attention, from an anonymous source, that Bill Clinton, in his Oxford days, had in fact lost at Tiddly-Winks to Professor of Celtic Literature, Cyril Edwards. I am not sure of the long-term ramifications that this may have had upon him but I do know that he hadn't lost an eye from it......... go figure.

1 comment:

Karen said...

You know something- I was one of those kids that was always the last picked and failed horribly at these games. You know what resulted? I became a geek: a bookworm, computer-loving, socially inept geek. Now, where would this world be if we got rid of every opportunity to become a geek? How will academics be born???