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Saturday, October 12, 2013

Is Childhood Dead?

I am going to sound old here, but I read two stories this week that made me wonder what happened to the America where I grew up.  One was of a middle school in Long Island that has banned most ball sports during recess and the other was of the U.S. Postal Service dumping a series of stamps that depicted kids doing outside activity such as skateboarding and cannonballing into a pool because as the designer stated:


 "Apparently the President’s Council [on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition] 
and the Let’s Move people saw them and had issues with them."

(So I guess a safer bet would have been kids locked in their bedrooms 
playing X-Box or texting on their cell phones)

What has happened to childhood?

Recess in school today is a joke.  When I was in school, we had an hour off for lunch.  The first half hour was to eat, the second was for recess.  One day, I saw some of my students come in after lunch and their 10 minutes (if that) recess with a football.

Me: "Did you win?"

Student: "No, Tie"

Me: "What was the score"

Student: "7-7"

Me: "Wow, high scoring for 10 minutes"

Student: "No, we scored one touchdown each"

When we played football during recess (through 8th grade), we often played up to 10.  Ten touchdowns.  We had the time to do so.  We played tag (another one of those banned games), or we spent the half hour talking with our friends.  I remember when some older kids invented a soccer type game with tennis balls and we had large 25 versus 25 games.  Yes it wasn't perfect.  People were bullied and kids scrapped their limbs making diving plays they dreamed would somehow find the lens of an ESPN camera, but it was fun.  

We learned to problem solve on the playground and also practice conflict resolution.

OFTEN WITHOUT THE HELP OF AN ADULT

First, we cut down the time provided in the day for kids to have unstructured "kid time" and added more academic time as if this would increase academic achievement.

Now, we are whittling away at what kids can do during that limited time, and probably in the end, we will just remove it all together in the name of academic achievement by saying, "the kids don't do anything during recess anyhow".

What happened to the childhood I lived:

-Where recess could be the bright spot that pulled you through the afternoon after a rough morning of classes.

-Where adding more school days were not debated because summers were a time for kids to "explore new worlds" and "dream big ideas" (If you need a reminder, look for a Disney cartoon called "Phineus and Ferb).

-When testing was done once a year, and although you were expected to do your best, no one stressed you out from September until you took them in the spring that your life depended on it

-Where kids met on a local lot for a pick up game of football, soccer, baseball, etc. instead of every sport they played being organized and run by an adult.

-Where lawsuits weren't discussed if a kid came home with bumps and scratches.

When did that childhood die?

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