Schools: `No tag' -- what a drag

September 10, 2007|By KEVIN COWHERD

I see where yet another elementary school in this great country has banned tag on the playground, this time on the theory it causes "conflict" among the kids.

Too many of the little monsters complained about being chased when they didn't want to be chased, said an official at a Colorado Springs, Colo., school.

And this apparently constituted a form of kiddie harassment, which should surprise no one in this day and age.

In fact, I'm surprised there weren't lawyers handing out business cards on the playground the next day.

Anyway, the end result was: goodbye tag at recess, although the school official said other running games would be allowed.

Great.

But tell me something: Besides tag, what other running games do little kids play at recess?

What are they going to do, line up for the 100-yard dash?

Work on their split times in the two-mile run?

But this is where we are in the education continuum in this country, with more and more schools deciding recess is getting a little too rough -- both physically and emotionally -- for kids.

Too many bruised shins, too many bruised feelings, and God knows we can't have any of that for the little dears -- especially the bruised feelings.

No, apparently what we're teaching our kids is that life is always peaches and cream and there are never any conflicts to be worked out, and that we're all winners and darn fine people, too, every one of us.

Terrific.

Except ... when we get rid of tag and all these other games kids love and use to blow off steam during recess, what are we left with?

A generation of wired little kids who can't sit still in the classroom?

A generation of kids who can't figure out how to get along with each other and need conflict-resolution teams sweeping through the playground to keep them from smacking each other?

A generation of fat little kids who get no exercise and eat junk food and will someday turn into fat big kids, and then fat adults with a ton of health problems?

Wonderful.

Nevertheless, every time you turn around, another traditional game is being forbidden by the Recess Gestapo at schools around the country.

Dodgeball is gone in a lot of schools -- you'd think kids were throwing broken bottles at each other instead of bouncy rubber balls, the way school officials carry on about dodgeball.

Monkey bars are gone.

Metal slides are gone.

Kickball is still allowed in some schools, as long as the kids don't get too excited and jump up and down, because then they could accidentally come down on someone's foot, which might cause a -- uh-oh, here's that word again -- conflict.

Some schools have forbidden soccer and touch football, too, because they can lead to the occasional sprained ankle or broken finger, and we certainly can't have that.

(And, some schools, even here in Maryland, have so restricted recess time it barely exists anymore.)

So if schools keep taking away all these fun games, what exactly are kids supposed to do at recess?

Play board games?

Break into discussion groups?

OK, can I get up on my soapbox for a moment?

Here's a modest proposal for you teachers and administrators: Let the kids who want to play tag play tag.

If a kid doesn't want to play tag, fine, he doesn't play.

And if another kid keeps chasing him and whacking him, have the first kid tell the other one to cut it out.

Let him try to work it out himself.

But if that doesn't work, the kid who's being bothered should go to the teacher and say something like: "Alex over there is driving me nuts with the chasing."

Then the teacher should tell the bully to knock it off, or else he's going to be banned from recess and exiled to the classroom, where he'll be writing on the blackboard 100 times: "I will not cause any more conflicts on the playground."

That ought to take care of that problem.

kevin.cowherd@baltsun.com

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