Saturday, February 21, 2009

Watch Out For Stone Walls!

I've been wondering for a long time now; why do kids play outside a lot less than I did when I was a kid? There's been a lot of theories put out there, some blaming TV and video games... others blaming parents... and still others blaming the "lazy" kids themselves. Well, I'm going to throw my theory into the ring with everyone else. I doubt it'll be well received, but I think it's just as legitimate as the rest.

We're going to use my little brother and my old elementary school as our primary example here. But for the record, I know this is going on all over the place. When I was in elementary we would do many things at recess. Recess was one of the best times of the day. After all, we finally got to get rid of all that pent up energy that we couldn't express during class without fear of being sent into the hall. During the Fall and Spring we would play soccer, play on the playground, and play tag (or various versions of tag). During the winter months we would have snowball fights, make snowmen, play King of the Mountain (a game where everyone climbs a mountain of snow and tries to push everyone else off)... and of course, play tag still.

However, my little brother's recess experience has sadly been much different than mine. At some point a stray snowball hit a kid, caused him to cry and now snowball fights have been banned. But not only snowball fights. No, my brother and his friends are not even allowed to pick up snow. Naturally they are not allowed to play King of the Mountain. Soccer is often banned when kids get hurt. And --get this-- they are no longer allowed to RUN on the playground!

There's a part of me that wants to go back there and scream at these teachers, "Kids get hurt! I got hurt! And guess what... I'm still alive!" But in a world that is so paranoid of law-suits, I can understand where they're coming from in a weird sort of way.

But let's look at this from a different angle now. Where do kids learn to have fun playing outside? Well, if they're lucky enough to have friends in the neighborhood, they can learn from playing from them. But let's face it, in a world where people feel less and less safe, people are less and less secure about meeting strangers, let alone letting them play with their kids. So we must ultimately fall back on school and the recess experience for the majority of children in our country.

Now given the supreme paranoia on the playground, with all their limiting and binding rules, do we really expect kids to find playing outside to be as much fun as playing Sony Playstation? Sure, it beats sitting in class, but when they get home they go straight to the TV. Why? Because they have been conditioned since Kindergarten that there are many many rules to playing outside which makes it not nearly as much fun as a video game.

"Yes, but what about parents... they're not worried about lawsuits like a school is", you say. Yes, parents aren't concerned with such things. They're not going to sue themselves... but all you have to do is watch the news and you'll see they are equally ridiculous. I saw this one news story about this kid who went sledding into a stone wall and ended up hospitalized. The community's reaction to this was to ban sledding in that area!

Hey, how about telling your kids to watch out for stone walls!

Is it really any wonder kids prefer video games to the idiocy of teachers and parents these days? I know I would. When a kid is conditioned to associate playing outside with a million rules (half of which don't make sense), it makes perfect sense that they would rather sit inside playing XBox than having to worry, "will I get in trouble for picking up this snow?"

Originally written on Feb. 20th 2005

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Its a beautiful blog...nice wordings... © 2010. layout by Chaotic Soul :: Converted by Randomness