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posted by n1 on Friday June 13 2014, @09:48AM   Printer-friendly
from the we-could-start-a-riot dept.

In contrast to the modern trend of helicopter parenting and safety-first playgrounds, one school in New Zealand has decided to completely do away with rules during recess playtime to great effect. They aren't alone in this reversal, some of which can be justified by a study showing that children who injured themselves by falling from heights grow up to be less fearful of heights than those who weren't hurt.

 
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  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Geotti on Friday June 13 2014, @09:49AM

    by Geotti (1146) on Friday June 13 2014, @09:49AM (#54876) Journal

    a study showing that children who injured themselves by falling from heights grow up to be less fearful of heights than those who weren't hurt, if they survived

    FTFY.

    • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Sir Garlon on Friday June 13 2014, @10:24AM

      by Sir Garlon (1264) on Friday June 13 2014, @10:24AM (#54883)

      You can address the severity of likely injury micro-managing the kids' behavior. For example, don't build the jungle gym high enough that a child will have a high probability of head or spinal injury if she falls. Cut down the trees inside the playground so the children can't climb 10 meters high and fall onto asphalt. Then you can create a playground where as long as the kids stay inside the fence, they're safe enough -- for an engineer's (or an actuary's) definition of safety.

      --
      [Sir Garlon] is the marvellest knight that is now living, for he destroyeth many good knights, for he goeth invisible.
      • (Score: 3, Informative) by Sir Garlon on Friday June 13 2014, @11:42AM

        by Sir Garlon (1264) on Friday June 13 2014, @11:42AM (#54907)

        Drat, I posted before coffee. First sentence should read, "You can address the severity of likely injury *without* micro-managing the kids' behavior."

        --
        [Sir Garlon] is the marvellest knight that is now living, for he destroyeth many good knights, for he goeth invisible.
      • (Score: 2) by Alfred on Friday June 13 2014, @01:18PM

        by Alfred (4006) on Friday June 13 2014, @01:18PM (#54932) Journal

        Forget climbing, does this mean the kids can play tag?

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 13 2014, @01:35PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 13 2014, @01:35PM (#54938)

          They can do anything they want. They can even do stuff where they hurt each other as long as all the kids involved are OK with getting hurt (i.e. no bullying, but tackle football is fine).

    • (Score: 2, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 13 2014, @12:19PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 13 2014, @12:19PM (#54914)

      > if they survived

      If you read the second article, they address that. Turns out that despite ratcheting up all the safety designs and rules over over the last couple of decades, the rate of the playground deaths have barely changed. Like about 10 less per year. The difference is basically statistical noise.

      So, the kids aren't significantly safer but they are significantly less prepared for adult life.

      • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Snow on Friday June 13 2014, @07:08PM

        by Snow (1601) on Friday June 13 2014, @07:08PM (#55095) Journal

        I think it's more a sign that kids like danger. If you make the playground too safe, then the kids will use the equipment in ways that was not intended, making it more fun, but also more dangerous. Kids need some level of risk.

        There are no more flying foxes. Swings are now only 10ish feet high. It's rare to see a slide more than 5 feet long. Play equipment is low to the ground. Everything is plastic and easily sanitized. Gravel ground is being replaced with rubber. Tire swings are becoming extinct.

        Playgrounds are ordered as kits, so every paygound is more or less the same. Being a kid has never been more safe^H^H^H^Hboring.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by My Silly Name on Friday June 13 2014, @03:54PM

      by My Silly Name (1528) on Friday June 13 2014, @03:54PM (#55013)
      Those of us who have reached a certain age (in my case 50+) who recall climbing trees and other structures may also recall falling out of them to no permanent ill-effect. It's part of a normal learning experience. This tendency to wrap up one's precious babies in cotton-wool is just so damn tedious. Life is all about taking risks, without which we cannot grow.

      Otherwise, we might just as well adopt the "barrel method" of child rearing: keep your offspring in a barrel for the first 30 or so years of its life, then decide whether or not to hammer the bung in.
    • (Score: 2) by gringer on Friday June 13 2014, @09:25PM

      by gringer (962) on Friday June 13 2014, @09:25PM (#55126)

      if they survived

      You need to fall a long way to kill yourself, assuming some measure of sanity about not landing with every muscle completely rigid. Children are also lighter than adults, so have less of the squishy force when they hit the ground, making damage much less severe than it would be had an adult fallen the same distance.

      --
      Ask me about Sequencing DNA in front of Linus Torvalds [youtube.com]
  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Sir Garlon on Friday June 13 2014, @10:18AM

    by Sir Garlon (1264) on Friday June 13 2014, @10:18AM (#54880)

    From TFA:

    And now the principal’s unconventional approach has made waves around the world, with school administrators and parents as far away as the United States and the United Kingdom asking how they, too, can abandon a rulebook designed to assuage fears about school safety in a seemingly dangerous time.

    I would point out that rulebook is designed to assuage _parents'_ fears about school safety. The restrictive rules are not really for the kids' benefit, and this principal, at least, seems to get that.

    --
    [Sir Garlon] is the marvellest knight that is now living, for he destroyeth many good knights, for he goeth invisible.
    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by MostCynical on Friday June 13 2014, @11:14AM

      by MostCynical (2589) on Friday June 13 2014, @11:14AM (#54901) Journal

      I'd go further: parents' irrational fears.
      Mainly derived from tabloid fear-mongering and the "sue them" culture.
      The poor kids in modern society watch more tv (and other screen time)* AND spend more time indoors* (back yards: SO twentieth-century!)

      When I was at school (not that many decades ago), a plaster cast on an arm or leg was common enough that we had developed particular preferences for where we would try and write on the cast - a joy lost now to fibreglass and other modern technology, as well as to the fact that ther just aren't as many kids with broken limbs these days.

      Risk? No, the insurers and actuaries removed it.

      On a side note: has "sue them" become the new "burn her"?

      *google it yourself

      --
      "I guess once you start doubting, there's no end to it." -Batou, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
      • (Score: 3, Informative) by Adrian Harvey on Friday June 13 2014, @05:44PM

        by Adrian Harvey (222) on Friday June 13 2014, @05:44PM (#55065)

        I should point out here that the article is about New Zealand and there is no 'sue them' culture there. Because you can't. The right to sue for things like playground accidents was abolished long ago and replaced with a government run accident compensation / rehabilitation scheme called ACC. ACC levies employers, employees and other things (like petrol) and fund and support medical expenses, rehab, etc. They obviously work to keep unsafe things in check too, and levies also vary with risk, so H&S is just as important as anywhere. But it's not driven by fear of being sued...

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 13 2014, @10:22AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 13 2014, @10:22AM (#54882)

    Murder is still against the rules.

    • (Score: 2) by Sir Garlon on Friday June 13 2014, @10:30AM

      by Sir Garlon (1264) on Friday June 13 2014, @10:30AM (#54885)

      Of course. When TFA says "completely get rid of all rules," that's hyperbole for rhetorical effect. The normal rules of society still apply on the playground. For example, nothing in TFA makes me believe the playground monitors would not break up fights or stop a child playing with broken glass. What they're doing away with are the asinine rules like "you're not allowed to climb on the big, fun jungle gym until you're in third grade" (to cite the only example I remember from my elementary school). I suspect there are ten times more asinine rules -- such as "no rugby", maybe even "no tag" -- today than when I was a kid. Because if a child sprains an ankle playing tag, the school could get sued for letting children play tag during recess.

      --
      [Sir Garlon] is the marvellest knight that is now living, for he destroyeth many good knights, for he goeth invisible.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 13 2014, @10:55AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 13 2014, @10:55AM (#54895)

        Aha. Now ve apply ze social pressssurrrr to suttttly hint that ze big fun jungle gym iz for ze third graderrrrs. No rrrrrules but norrrmal rrrrules of ze society herrreee! Ha ha ha ha ha ahaaaaa!

    • (Score: 3, Funny) by tangomargarine on Friday June 13 2014, @01:51PM

      by tangomargarine (667) on Friday June 13 2014, @01:51PM (#54943)

      Hail Eris

      There are no rules anywhere
      The Goddess prevails

      --
      "Is that really true?" "I just spent the last hour telling you to think for yourself! Didn't you hear anything I said?"
      • (Score: 2, Funny) by joshuajon on Friday June 13 2014, @03:23PM

        by joshuajon (807) on Friday June 13 2014, @03:23PM (#54997)

        All Hail Discordia!

        • (Score: 1) by NickM on Friday June 13 2014, @10:07PM

          by NickM (2867) on Friday June 13 2014, @10:07PM (#55135) Journal
          Cthulhu be praised !
          --
          I a master of typographic, grammatical and miscellaneous errors !
  • (Score: 4, Informative) by bradley13 on Friday June 13 2014, @10:49AM

    by bradley13 (3053) on Friday June 13 2014, @10:49AM (#54894) Homepage Journal

    I am too lazy to look up the references, but there have been various studies that show overly-safe playgrounds to be detrimental. Children who have "unsafe" playgrounds injure themselves - across all activities - less often and less severely.

    Pain is an excellent teacher, built into us by nature for a reason. Bruises and skinned knees are part of childhood, as children learn what they can do and what not, what works and what doesn't. Pad all sharp corners, and children are denied an important, indeed critical, learning experience.

    --
    Everyone is somebody else's weirdo.
    • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 13 2014, @10:59AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 13 2014, @10:59AM (#54896)

      It's school. The only learning experience the kids need is to learn to OBEY the RULES. They'll go straight to jail when they grow up if they don't learn to OBEY the RULES.

      • (Score: 2) by clone141166 on Friday June 13 2014, @01:10PM

        by clone141166 (59) on Friday June 13 2014, @01:10PM (#54929)

        Actually, having adults who just blindly follow rules without question would probably be a terrible outcome for society. Learning to distinguish between rules that are necessary and worth following, and rules that are immoral and/or illogical, is a far more important lesson. Otherwise we would still have horrible laws like apartheid.

        • (Score: 2) by GreatAuntAnesthesia on Friday June 13 2014, @03:03PM

          by GreatAuntAnesthesia (3275) on Friday June 13 2014, @03:03PM (#54983) Journal

          > Actually, having adults who just blindly follow rules without question would probably be a terrible outcome for society.

          Fortunately (for the people who make THE RULES) this isn't a problem. You see, the people who make THE RULES don't exist in what you and I call society, they have their own Society (with a capital "S") comprised of exclusive schools and country clubs and gated communities and corporate retreats and so on, where they can enjoy their wealth and privelege unhampered by measly proletariat concerns like THE RULES or THE LAW or even COMMON BLOODY DECENCY. As long as the drab ordinary folk follow THE RULES and continue to strive and breed and labour for the benefit of their masters, then all is well with the world.

          Of course, these two realms are entirely separate, and so we can by no means expect the gradual syphoning of all wealth and leisure from one into the other and subsequent breakdown of society into a polluted panopticon police state to eventually lead to the collapse of Society in any way at all. That couldn't ever happen. No.

          TL;DR - Rules are for the poor. Let them eat cake.

        • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Buck Feta on Friday June 13 2014, @03:15PM

          by Buck Feta (958) on Friday June 13 2014, @03:15PM (#54989) Journal

          > Actually, having adults who just blindly follow rules without question would probably be a terrible outcome for society.

          While I generally agree with you, I'd like to point out that Japan has done reasonably well for itself in the last 70 years, despite having a very regimented and conformist society.

          --
          - fractious political commentary goes here -
          • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 13 2014, @05:11PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 13 2014, @05:11PM (#55052)

            Japan's public debt [wikipedia.org]
            The Lost Decade(s) [wikipedia.org]
            Amakudari (revolving door politics) [wikipedia.org]
            NEETs [wikipedia.org], Freeters [wikipedia.org], and Hikkikomori [wikipedia.org]

            Do some research.

            • (Score: 1) by Buck Feta on Friday June 13 2014, @07:16PM

              by Buck Feta (958) on Friday June 13 2014, @07:16PM (#55096) Journal

              Yeah, but take a look at what they looked like after the second world war. They rebuilt the entire country from nothing to become one of the most technologically advanced nations, they have an unemployment rate far lower than the US or Europe, and despite the problems you reference above, they are a high functioning society.

              --
              - fractious political commentary goes here -
              • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 13 2014, @08:58PM

                by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 13 2014, @08:58PM (#55122)

                > they have an unemployment rate far lower than the US or Europe,

                Unemployment is a weird number for a bunch of different reasons, one of the biggest is that doesn't count people who have "given up" looking.

                Better to look at total employment, [wikipedia.org] and Japan is doing well at 71% but that still is just 11th (USA is 16th).

                • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 13 2014, @10:02PM

                  by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 13 2014, @10:02PM (#55133)

                  It's a bit uglier than that, as that number doesn't account for underemployment (hence why I mentioned Freeters [wikipedia.org]). Basically, Japan have the 3rd largest economy, but the benefits accrue to a very small part of the population, and a very large part of the population (mostly under-30s) are effectively being supported, in whole or in part, by their wealthier parents (who accrued their relative fortunes in the 80s boom). Opportunities are relatively limited, advancement is extremely difficult, the game is rigged, and the previously-mentioned conformist society only serves to keep people from questioning a clearly failed system (though this is very, very slowly changing).

  • (Score: 5, Informative) by Thexalon on Friday June 13 2014, @12:25PM

    by Thexalon (636) on Friday June 13 2014, @12:25PM (#54916)

    The Summerhill School in Britain has as its basic principle very minimal rules, including no requirement that students even attend classes. Basically, if you're not hurting anyone, you're allowed to do whatever it is you want to be doing. The whole place is run as a democracy, with students and faculty getting equal votes (that is, the kids can and sometimes do outvote the adults).

    They have some other crazy ideas, like placing kids in classes according to their ability rather than their age: If you can do calculus at 13, you're going to be in class with the 17-year-olds who can do calculus, rather than stuck learning what the other 13-year-olds are capable of.

    It apparently works at least as well as the more strict schools, and prevents a lot of the reaction of "Hey, teacher! Leave them kids alone! [youtube.com]"

    --
    The only thing that stops a bad guy with a compiler is a good guy with a compiler.
    • (Score: 2) by mrcoolbp on Friday June 13 2014, @05:51PM

      by mrcoolbp (68) <mrcoolbp@soylentnews.org> on Friday June 13 2014, @05:51PM (#55068) Homepage

      Eye wint tu eh skuul ezaktli lyke teh Summer Hill Skuul, end eye terned owt fyne!!

       

      In all seriousnes I did attend a school that was very similar to Summer Hill. It's amazing how well it does work, there are of course caveats, but I know many people that attended that are now quite successful. Children gain responsibility when we give it to them, not when they turn 18; and "playing" is just learning.

      --
      (Score:1^½, Radical)
  • (Score: 4, Informative) by JeanCroix on Friday June 13 2014, @02:24PM

    by JeanCroix (573) on Friday June 13 2014, @02:24PM (#54969)
    It's all fun and games until someone drops a boulder on Piggy.
    • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 13 2014, @04:04PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 13 2014, @04:04PM (#55022)

      The point is that sooner or later someone is going to drop a "boulder on piggy." Better that they do it as kids where the harm is less and they can learn the consequences of that kind of behavior than to do it as an adult where the harm is much greater and then subsequent consequences are much worse. Childhood is practice for adulthood, if you don't let kids get that practice it means they will be unprepared to be adults.

      • (Score: 2) by JeanCroix on Friday June 13 2014, @04:08PM

        by JeanCroix (573) on Friday June 13 2014, @04:08PM (#55025)
        Either you completely missed the reference, or you're implying murder is inevitable for everyone.
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 13 2014, @08:47PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 13 2014, @08:47PM (#55115)

          No, I got the reference, read the book in 7th grade. I recognized it as hyperbole and decided to address the kernel of truth in the argument rather than accept the hyperbole at face value which is why I put scare quotes around the phrase.

          Kind of a shame that the only responses to that have been literalists. The more I read here, the more I become convinced that way too many people are stuck in a sort of high-school level of debate quality. It's a mental crutch that prevents people from coming to a meaningful understanding of the world around them, instead letting them live in a fantasy land of black and white, good and evil, them and us.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 13 2014, @06:46PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 13 2014, @06:46PM (#55087)

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lord_of_the_Flies#Piggy [wikipedia.org]

        Another something a 10 year old can easily read (though, again, he might not get all the subtext):
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animal_Farm [wikipedia.org]

        -- gewg_

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 14 2014, @04:03PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 14 2014, @04:03PM (#55323)

      This made laugh harder than it should have, considering what it is referencing.