Where did our schools go wrong? When I was a boy, the absolute, guaranteed, 100% certain best things about school were: a) lunch; and b) recess. The reason?
Football, of the North American variety.
Not the organized version of the sport. Just a bunch of boys with a football going out in the fresh air and having a grand time. No safety equipment, and full tackling. We picked our own teams, ensured everyone played fairly, made certain that everyone got to play, and had a blast in the process. We played in the sun, we played in the rain. We played in the wind, we played in the snow.
We ran. We threw. We caught. We lived life to the fullest, as only boys can.
There was the odd bump or bruise, but never a serious injury. We never got into fights, as the game bred friendship and sportsmanship and honour of the good sort, not animosity.
The only school yard rules that we had were simple. No fighting. Stay on the school grounds. Obey the “duty” teachers on the playgrounds during recess. Be nice.
These were unwritten rules, as far as we knew. You didn’t need to have these written down. Everyone understood.
By the time that my sons were of a similar age–I’ll loosely define this as the grades 3 to 8 period–, my reading had suggested that misguided feminism had adversely affected the education system to make being a boy “bad.” When I checked with my boys’ school principal to see if tackling was still allowed, she told that it wasn’t, as it led to aggression. Only it doesn’t, as I know from experience. As Lenin stated, a lie repeated often enough becomes the truth.
Although my elementary school sons were forbidden from tackling or having any such fun on the school grounds, they knew how to change their tampons due to the school’s excellent state-mandated sex education program. This was a Catholic school, mind you. It was either while in grade 6 or 7 that my older son had a great laugh in his deadpan impersonation of his male teacher informing the class about cunnilingus.
I don’t think I learned what that word meant until I was 30.
Parents, do not despair, for all hope is not lost. There exists a single school in New Zealand where one brave principal has the courage to let kids be kids, which means that boys can be boys. In an uplifting article by the National Post’s Sarah Boesveld, we learn of Principal Bruce McLachlan’s brave and unheard of policy to–wait for it–let kids have fun on the school grounds.
Once Principal McLachlan threw out the rule book, so to speak, what he discovered was: “Fewer children were getting hurt on the playground. Students focused better in class. There was also less bullying, less tattling. Incidents of vandalism had dropped off.”
While Ms. Boesveld correctly discussed the fear of getting sued as a culprit behind schools’ taking all the fun out of the playground, there is a deeper problem. The sort of school that Principal McLachlan is running is the sort of school where boys will thrive. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt. This is exactly what feminist education policy makers do NOT want.
Those who doubt this claim are encouraged to read Christina Hoff Sommers’, Ph.D. (and mother of boys), book The War Against Boys – How Misguided Feminism is Harming Our Young Men
Kudos to Principal McLaughlan for compassion, courage, and common sense. Kudos too to Ms. Boesveld and the National Post for a super article.
There is always hope.