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School ditches rules and loses bullies


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I did not realize that kids aren't allowed to climb trees and make forts and ride scooters any more, except under very supervised circumstances. Especially interesting because this story comes from New Zealand, which I did not think had such a tort-driven system as the USA.

Best line in the article:

Society's obsession with protecting children ignores the benefits of risk-taking, he said.

This issue reminds me of the recent dodgeball controversy that has happened a couple times locally. I wrote about it one day when particularly fired up, the articles are linked in: http://cafecasey.com/2013/03/28/1605/   None of this stops bullying. Not in the schoolground and not i work life later on. The only thing that does is having schools and organizations committed to creating a positive climate. As an adult, I've learned to stay away from the negativity.  We can't protect kids from everything. It's a much better idea to teach them to process it and learn to be great. 

Great idea, hard to let go though and just let them have a free-for-all, but so much learning is going on, and esteem building :)

Still hard to believe it's a complete free-for-all: "Surprisingly the students don't cause bedlam."

What keeps them from hurting each other? Do rules emerge out of the chaos?

Lord of the Flies, Adam? :) You'll find, if you watch, that the kids do make order. Sometimes they need an adult to help, but it works itself out in the end. I have kids all the time jump in and defend others against poor treatment. I step back and watch... Love it. 

I'm pretty sure this doesn't only apply to schools but to big business as well.  Anyone who has ever worked in a Big Co. soul-crushing, processes and procedures type environment can immediately appreciate the freedom smaller companies offer.

I like the analogy that a company is like a playground.

It is true. Take my job for instance--a lot of teachers will not take risks because of ratings and testing. Risk=reward every time... Calculated risks... We're doing them a disservice in the long run by oversupervising, chaperoning, and attending to every second of the day rather than being permitted to ramp them up to adulthood...The playground shows this very well. 

very cool.  my children went to a preschool like this.  their slogan was "where the wild things are!" and the children were happily exhausted every day.  they learned real life skills on the playground and got so messy making "potions" (food coloring, water and soap) and mudpies that they had no desire to get messy again at home.  letting them explore naturally is an excellent approach to learning. and there is always learning in play!

So kids don't naturally want to hurt each other? I was unclear on how bullying was avoided.

It can't be. We shouldn't endorse mean, but the reality is that it's everywhere in life. We have to know how to process it. I never tolerate it in my classes, but helping the bullied is as much a developmental issue as helping those who bully...otherwise they'll grow up enablers or avoiders, instead of using their power to be leaders. 

my understanding is that bullying becomes a problem when kids are bored. loosening the rules means kids have more freedom to play and thus less boredom.  those bullies turn into tree-climbers and fort-builders when allowed more freedom!

A friend of mine told me a story recently about his fearless daughter who got some nasty scrapes on her legs while climbing a tree. Not only did the school INSIST that she get picked up immediately and taken to the doctor, but I think they VERY NARROWLY avoided a police investigation for suspected child sexual abuse.