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Mar 29, 2013

School kicks back at nanny state

Image: Pic: Mark Calleja Source: The Courier-Mail
Those of us who are over 30-40 years old can remember when lunch breaks at school were fun.  They were your time where you could do pretty much whatever you liked, although a teacher was usually out there to ensure that things didn’t get out of hand and to break up the odd fist fight.
Parents kicked in for play equipment such as balls, ropes, nets, cricket and baseball bats, etc, but kids had to supply their own toy guns, marbles, pocketknives and so on.  Scratches, bruises, and abrasions occurred occasionally, but these were treated as part of learning to be smarter next time and hardened us up.
Since then the dead hand of the nanny state has intervened.
Petrie Terrace State School deserves to be congratulated for the outbreak of common sense occurring there: 
… At Petrie Terrace State School, in Brisbane's inner city, cubby houses are tucked away and children are swinging from tyres roped to trees.  Other students are running through a tyre obstacle course fixed to the ground and teachers watch children sometimes stumble, pick themselves up and run on. 
It is a far cry from the school bans on cartwheels, tiggy and red rover amid what principals have dubbed "the litigious age". School principal Eunice Webb said she thought the fear of being sued had been behind an increase in playground crackdowns, but it was getting in the way of learning. 
"What I am more afraid of is children who don't know how to take a risk, that to me is a bigger fear," she said.  She said tight supervision was paramount and this was always in place. 
Parents are also behind the move, helping to build the playground. …
In fairness, litigation is a serious problem these days, especially with vulturous law firms swamping the media with their ubiquitous ‘here to help’ messages.  One of these days a judge will tell a plaintiff, “You are a pathetic sniveling loser and an opportunistic, litigatious grub. Piss off out of my courtroom and learn to harden the f*** up a bit.”
A man can dream.
There is a good critique of the overzealous use of H&S and fear of litigation here, ironically from a Pom:
Judith Hackitt, head of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), accused schools and councils of using health and safety rules to avoid providing activities that might cost money or expose them to being sued. 
She said children's play and education had been damaged, with some playgrounds becoming joyless no-go areas, while science lessons had been hampered by bans on practical experiments. 
Hackitt warned the HSE would challenge bureaucrats who attribute "daft decisions" to ban innocuous activities to safety rules. 
Warning that "the gloves are off", she said the rules were wrongly blamed for decisions to make children wear goggles when playing conkers and ban running at a pancake race."The creeping culture of risk aversion and fear of litigation ... puts at risk our children's education and preparation for adult life," she told the Telegraph. 
"Children today are denied – often on spurious health and safety grounds – many of the formative experiences that shaped my generation. Playgrounds have become joyless, for fear of a few cuts and bruises."

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