Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Ultimate in Over-Reaction

(Warning - I'm ranting here. Be ready.)

I just about spit out my coffee this morning (except my morning coffee is far too precious to waste on this absurdity). Listening to the news, I heard that a Toronto school has banned balls from their schoolyard, because someone got hurt. After checking the calendar to see if I had pulled a Rip Van Winkle and it was actually April 1, I pulled my jaw up off the floor and began to fume.

Seriously Earl Beatty Jr. and Sr. Public School?! Really? You should be ashamed of yourselves. The report I heard this morning indicated that a parent had suffered a concussion after being hit in the head with a soccer ball. That certainly is a serious occurence, but should it result in all balls being banned? Further reports seem to indicate other near misses have occured as well. Accidents happen, and they suck, but we can't all walk around wrapped in bubble wrap every day. How is that any way to live?

Apparently the school came to this decision after some parents expressed concerns about the safety of the balls. Did these parents ever play as children? Have they talked to their kids about safety on the playground?

I have another idea to float. What if we gave the kids some responsibility for their actions? What if we talked to them about safety and rules and the importance of being aware of their surroundings? What if we made them responsible for how they used those balls instead of taking the balls away? Maybe they might learn something from that approach. I'm not sure what they will learn from this ban.  Maybe this is meant as a short-term punishment, "Look what happens if you don't behave!" But I'm not sure that is an effective way to deal with the problem, if there is one.

I was pretty sure that school yards were for kids to play. They serve to encourage physical activity, team sports, and group games. Sharing, interpersonal skills, cooperation, as well as agility and a love for being active are all positive learning outcomes of the school yard. Soccer balls and footballs and bouncy balls are all key components to kids learning how to entertain themselves in an active way and to create fun group games teaching them to play well with others. These balls have been in schoolyards for generations. What's different about this generation that makes it necessary, in this school's view, to take them away?

You can read CTV's story on this ban here.

My rant is over. I look forward to reading more about this decision and what led to it. The letter sent home by the school (copy at the link above) has not convinced me this is a well-thought out action.

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