It has recently come to my attention that the quite excellent public elementary school that my two older children attend has rules prohibiting (a) "play fighting" ("Students may not play in a rough manner which involves pushing, wrestling, “pretend fighting,” etc.") and (b) running anywhere but in a small area of the playground.
This concerns me. Children run during recess. I spent huge amounts of elementary school recess running like a nouveau-zombie, usually pretending to be a Colonial Viper, back when people who flew Colonial Vipers stuck to shooting Cylons and making wisecracks and did not indulge in interpersonal dramatic tension. I also spent a fair amount of time play-fighting with imaginary lightsabers. My son loves to run, and loves to play-fight with imaginary lightsabers, imaginary pokemons, and other highly marketable imaginary implements.
If my son play-fights during recess, he may get an occasional bruise or hurt feelings. If he runs, he may fall down and skin his knee. Frankly, I am not particularly concerned about these things. I am, however, concerned about him growing up into someone who expects the state to keep him safe from the consequences of his own actions, who expects to be protected from himself even in those traditional zones of freedom in which he should be able to run wild and express himself at his own peril. I'm concerned about him growing up to be a drone rather than a free man — or, perhaps, being forced to learn scorn for bureaucracy and hand-fluttering authority before such things should be thrust upon him.
I'm less worried about my daughter. She doesn't really let rules bother her.
I take heart, though. It could be so much worse. Our school has not yet banned teachers from using red pens to protect the self-esteem of my children.
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