I went to have lunch with my little bro today, like I do every Wednesday. Today the entire 5th & 6th grade had to eat lunch in complete silence. It was hilarious, watching these kids squirm, and occasionally sneak in a word or two to each other. Their principal is a total hardass. She watches these kids like a hawk. I think it's good, to a certain extent. I like that she tries to impose rules and teach them manners. However, making them eat in complete silence I think goes a little far. Kids are supposed to be loud at lunch. It's their time for release.
She also occasionally takes recess away from them as punishment for being too loud. This wasn't the case today, as the cafeteria was as quiet as I've ever seen it. If she caught someone talking more than once, that person had to go and stand against the wall. They couldn't finish their lunch. So harsh.
I'm a huge proponent of recess. While out with our little bros this weekend, Q's little bro told me he doesn't get a recess because too many kids were getting into fights. How sad is that? That hardly seems like a good way to stop fighting. He says they fight anyway. Why punish the rest of the kids? I think it's awful to coop young kids up in a classroom all day without any time to release some energy. Recess is a time when they can run around and be kids. It seems that all too often we aren't allowing them that simple freedom. There's so much homework, sports, tv, and all that crap. They're totally missing out on the ability to interact with each other.
On the Dave Glover show the other week, he was talking about some guy in New York who quit his job to organize neighborhood games like baseball, soccer, and basketball. Not for leagues, mind you - just for kids to get together and play. How crazy is that? Apparently he's making a shitload of money doing this. Why can't our kids do this themselves?
When I was a kid, my sis and I left the house in the morning, occasionally returned to eat or bother my mom, and came back when the sun went down. Sometimes we didn't even come back then - we stayed out to play flashlight tag (we also played that for a while in college - not such a good idea, though - grown folk running around at night wearing all black waving flashlights around). We had a neighborhood pool, and in the summers, if we weren't there (which we almost always were, even in the rain - hello skin cancer!), we were running around on our bikes, playing cops & robbers, soccer, baseball, tag, whatever our little minds came up with. We'd even bike over to bordering neighborhoods to visit school friends. I'm talking miles here, people. My mom never knew exactly where we were, but she trusted us to do what was right. We have to have confidence in our ability to teach our children.
What happened to that? I know, it's a dangerous world nowadays. It was then, too, I'm sure. But some point we have to let our kids go and be kids. Stuff is going to happen. But do we want fat little antisocial brats sitting around in our houses all day playing video games and watching TV? Hell no. It's so horrible. They grow up never knowing independence, and losing their innocence way too early thanks to the media and computers. I'm sure my mom pushed us out some days. Who wants to sit around with two silly kids all day long? She needed a break too. Of course, there was no internet back then, and simple cable TV, if that. We'd have killed each other if we had to stay in that house all day.
I watched a TV show on PBS this weekend that showed how boys do so much better in school if they're allowed to expend some energy during the day. There are studies that show they can't concentrate if made to sit in one place the entire time. This show said that 80% of all stimulant drugs in the world are prescribed to American boys. It's staggering. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not judging. I don't have kids. I have no idea what it's like to raise a child with behavior issues. I do know a few kids who have greatly benefited from stimulants. No amount of recess would have helped these kids. Something definitely seems wrong with that stat, though.
Ah, to be a child again. Wasn't elementary school the best? Everyone was friends. No one was a complete weirdo yet, no raging hormones. Just good old fashioned fun.