Monday, April 14, 2008


(Each "Featured Question," an idea which I gleaned from A Republic If You Can Keep It, will remain toward the top of the blog until the next question appears. The previous QUESTIONS are HERE. Please scroll down for recent postings)

Thinking back to my grade school years, I have fond memories of unstructured recess time. You may have similar fond memories.
The school I attended did not have much playground equipment: a swing set, a slide, and a smaller-than-regulation-size basketball court. Nevertheless, we students had a wonderful time playing tag and dare base. Certainly a few injuries occurred during playground recess, but most of us returned to the classroom without any physical damage.

According to this article in the April 15, 2008 edition of the Washington Post, playing tag at one elementary school in Fairfax County is now forbidden:
A playground pastime is getting a timeout this spring at a McLean elementary school.

Robyn Hooker, principal of Kent Gardens Elementary School, has told students they may no longer play tag during recess after determining that the game of chasing, dodging and yelling "You're it!" had gotten out of hand. Hooker explained to parents in a letter this month that tag had become a game "of intense aggression."

The principal said that her goal is to keep students safe and that she hopes to restore tag (as well as touch football, also now on hold) after teachers and administrators review recess policies....
Apparently, today's schoolyard tag is of a more dangerous kind, even in posh McLean, one of Fairfax County's most elite districts:
Over the past couple of months, [Principal Hooker] had noticed that tag was taking up too much space and sending too many students to the nurse's office.

"This is not the old-fashioned tag, where you could use two fingers and you would be it and move on to someone else," Hooker said. The game, she said, has become much more aggressive. "I call it the nouveau tag."

This tag involves grabbing people who do not necessarily know they are playing and possibly bumping them to the ground. "Then the kids do 'pyramiding' or 'towering.' They pile on each other. [Sometimes] they call it 'jailhouse' or 'jailbreak,' " because the child has to break out, she said....
Parents see Ms. Hooker's restrictions in a different way:
...Michael Haaren, a father, said that if some children are being too aggressive, they should be disciplined. Limiting the activity is a "draconian" measure, he said.

He is concerned that schools are on a bad trajectory. "Where are we headed here? The elimination of recess altogether? It has happened in other schools. Will we eliminate 'duck duck goose' because kids are being touched?" he asked.

Dozens of parents turned out for a PTA meeting to hear the principal explain the decision. Many opposed the plan....
Read the entire article.

FEATURED QUESTION (in two parts): (1) Is the principal taking correct with action in the above story? (2) How much restriction should adults place on childhood games and activities?

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posted by Always On Watch @ 4/14/2008 01:00:00 AM