Free-Range Kids

To Stop Bullying, British School Eliminates Recess

What could go wrong?

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To eliminate bullying, a school in England has eliminated ball games and jump-roping on the playground, replacing these with poetry recitations, choir, and quizzes. Said Charlotte Whelan, the Hackney New School head teacher (the British equivalent of a principal): "A school without bullying sounds like a utopia, but it is achievable."

Whether or not reciting Shelley during recess is your idea of utopia, a BBC piece on the school quotes Whelan saying, "It's long been my belief that we could be doing more for pupils while they are on their breaks," because "so often you see them aimlessly wandering the playground. We want every second at school to count."

I'm sure the kids are counting the seconds, too.

Clearly Whelan is of the belief that kids' brains shut down the moment they are not engaged in something officially academic. That's what prompted her to start the break-time poetry recitals, "and it evolved from there."

I doubt it will come as a surprise that another expert quoted in the piece said it is important for schools to create safe spaces, where kids feel "supported and included."

The issue here is not just the Dolores Umbridge-esque nature of the administration. It's the inability of that administration to believe that kids could possibly be learning anything when they are allowed to goof around. The teachable moment notion of child development is so thick here that kids are not allowed to "waste" their time even between bites.

This notion is wrong. "When they are free to play in their own ways, children practice the most important skills required to move toward adulthood—how to take initiative, make their own decisions, solve their own problems, negotiate with peers—and, yes, how to deal with others who aren't always nice," says Peter Gray, a professor of psychology at Boston College and my co-founder at Let Grow. "When we prevent them from such opportunities by taking continuous control of their lives, we prevent them from growing up."

Prevent away seems to be the philosophy of those who believe the only way to end bullying is to end any freedom the students enjoyed. Linda James, founder of a nonprofit called "Bullies Out," notes in the BBC piece: "Unstructured games can sometimes lead to nasty comments, aggressive behavior and children feeling left out."

She's right: Some sad feelings—and betrayals and loneliness—are inevitable in both childhood and adulthood. No one wants kids facing constant cruelty, but learning how to deal with some playground frustration is actually a big life skill it behooves them to learn. There's more to school than sonnets.

NEXT: Is Matt Gaetz a Child Sex Trafficker? Here’s What the Law Actually Says.

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  3. The teachable moment notion of child development is so thick here that kids are not allowed to “waste” their time even between bites……..MORE DETAIL.

    1. “Unstructured games can sometimes lead to nasty comments”

      Bad poetry and singing can solicit the same response.

      1. Just ask a Vogon.

      2. You mean ‘elicit’

  4. Totally fucking ridiculous. This is exhibit #875,104,249 on why parents ought to opt for home-schooling wherever possible.

  5. God (or who/whatever) help us all. It’s recess. It’s a break! From you! Leave them alone for one dang minute. Go away and mind your own damn business.

    1. This.

      “It’s long been my belief that we could be doing more for pupils while they are on their breaks.”

      OK, Charlotte, how’s about you start by, say, sanitizing their chairs?

      1. Or teaching them boxing or karate. Best way to stop a bully is to break his nose.

        1. Yes, I learned more valuable lessons in street fights than I ever learned at Chicago Public Schools.

  6. “”how to take initiative, make their own decisions, solve their own problems, “”

    That’s a partial list of things authoritarians don’t want you to do.

    1. ^^^

  7. To Stop Bullying, British School Eliminates Recess

    Wrooooong! Do it agaiiiiin!

    1. I want pudding not meat!

  8. I lived for recess.

    1. And gym. If I didn’t get to run off some energy, I’d misuse that energy.

  9. American school stopped bullying by eliminating school, tbf

  10. I notice that the two White persons in the accompanying photo are not letting the Black person touch the book. I’m sure someone can explain to me how this is an example of racist White privilege.

    1. I notice that the two White persons in the accompanying photo are not letting the Black person touch the book. I’m sure someone can explain to me how this is an example of racist White privilege.

      There.

  11. To stop bullying, Britain bullies kids into continuing school during recess.

    1. Bully!

  12. I know this is an unpopular notion since it references gender, but I believe one of the original purposes of recess was to allow boys to release some of their natural energy and aggression in physical activity between periods of classroom instruction. But I suppose that’s no longer necessary if the most excitable boys are safely doped up with Ritalin.

    1. If you want to be stereotypical, it allowed the boys to run and the girls to gossip so everyone can sit down, shut up, and get something done in the afternoon.

      However, we are now enlightened, so EVERYONE can run and gossip so they can sit down, shut up, and get something done in the afternoon.

  13. did the English not learn the lesson of The Wall?

    1. “Can’t have any pudding if you don’t eat your meat?”

    2. Leave those kids alone, or get burned up in a big bonfire.

    3. Sitting in a bunker,
      Here behind my wall,
      Waiting for the worms to come.
      In perfect isolation

      Was that not prescriptive?

    4. Yes, the lesson is that if you want to oppress someone, you need to dress up their oppression in therapeutic trappings.

    5. “You little twit,
      you’re in it now,
      I hope they throw away the key.
      You should have talked to me more often than you did, BUT NO!

  14. “Dolores Umbridge-esque”

    Fat Dolores chance any one of them would see themselves in such a noxious character [no matter how well it fits].

  15. Let’s make bullying kill itself.

  16. Progressives have just given up on normal human life, haven’t they?

  17. TLDR: To stop bullying, English school bans fun.

  18. Alternate TLDR: English school says “How dare the children bully each other, that’s what teachers are for.”

  19. Clearly Whelan is of the belief that kids’ brains shut down the moment they are not engaged in something officially academic.

    This brings to mind the episode of Kung Fu where Master Po explained to Caine the lesson contained in the game “Rock Paper Scissors”. “In games children teach sometimes more than books.”

  20. That is a great idea! Why, it will be like my upbringing in South Chicago! I found that I could overcome violence with any group of ill raised, murderous crotch droppings by simply reciting some poetry. I may have inspired modern Rap.
    Does anyone wonder why Prince Harry is a cuck?

  21. So no more potty breaks for the little kids, thats what many kids do during recess go to teh bathroom and not just to smoke or will the perverted teachers follow them to the restroom as well to keep them from being bullied

  22. you can not make “one and done” moms or the “State” accept that there’s such thing as too much protectiveness or nurturing. It’s impossible.

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  24. Kids can still be bullied before and after school. Better close all schools to stop bullying.

  25. Bullying is now even more brutal than it was before. It is the reason why I began to take an interest in psychology. I like to read about various studies in the field of psychology. I would really like to go to psychology classes, there are many benefits about this. I read about it at http://fingerlakes1.com/2020/06/23/7-benefits-of-taking-a-psychology-class/ and I think to start looking for classes. Maybe someone here can give me advice on where to go?

    1. Most everyone here will be very glad to tell you where to go – – – – – – – –

    2. You are a fucking hypocrite.

      Isn’t all psychology about encouraging people to express what bothers them? Isn’t that a prerequisite for healing?

      But you, ostensibly in the name of psychology, advocate coercing children to bottle it up. To eliminate physical play because it may lead to a verbal outburst.

      Maybe these kids need to learn how to deal with their thoughts and feelings without so much adult interference, shame and guilt.

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