20 votes

School almost 'eliminates bullying' with break-time ban on games

19 comments

  1. [10]
    Greg
    Link
    I can't decide what to make of this idea, and that's why it piqued my interest enough to post it. On the surface, I should be all in favour: I was an un-sporty, bullied loner at school and I would...

    Rather than kicking a football around or jumping skipping ropes in the playground unsupervised, pupils practise sonnets by classic poets like Shelley and Tennyson or quiz each other on capital cities.

    I can't decide what to make of this idea, and that's why it piqued my interest enough to post it.

    On the surface, I should be all in favour: I was an un-sporty, bullied loner at school and I would have been more than happy swapping that portion of the day out for quizzes or time to read quietly.

    But there's something about this that rubs me the wrong way. The best word I have for it is creepy - the whole thing gives me dystopian vibes, with blank-eyed children chanting in unison under a 'benevolent' dictator.

    I know that's probably not the case, and I know I shouldn't judge from a single article, but I'm finding it hard to shake. I will say that the head teacher's quote on the subject didn't exactly help dispel that view, either:

    It's long been my belief that we could be doing more for pupils while they on their breaks, so often you see them aimlessly wandering the playground. We want every second at school to count.

    31 votes
    1. Grzmot
      Link Parent
      Oh gods, this worries me. Just let the kids be kids for one fucking second! Our generation already has problems with overoptimizing ourselves, always trying to be the best and doing everything at...

      It's long been my belief that we could be doing more for pupils while they on their breaks, so often you see them aimlessly wandering the playground. We want every second at school to count.

      Oh gods, this worries me. Just let the kids be kids for one fucking second! Our generation already has problems with overoptimizing ourselves, always trying to be the best and doing everything at once ranging from career, founding a family to caring for the planet while also maybe being happy (rarely), we really don't need to start optimizing sooner.

      I'll leave this little bit by good old George Carlin here.

      29 votes
    2. NaraVara
      Link Parent
      Same. This doesn't seem like it's doing away with bullying so much as doing away with sources of disagreement or conflict in general. But being able to productively negotiate conflict is a...

      Same. This doesn't seem like it's doing away with bullying so much as doing away with sources of disagreement or conflict in general. But being able to productively negotiate conflict is a critical life skill for being a functioning adult. What do you do when there aren't supervisors to help you work through problems with your peers?

      20 votes
    3. [2]
      frostycakes
      Link Parent
      Do schools restrict recess activities that heavily now? Gym class is one thing, but I don't remember ever being talked to by teachers or staff growing up if I decided to read, do homework, play my...

      Do schools restrict recess activities that heavily now? Gym class is one thing, but I don't remember ever being talked to by teachers or staff growing up if I decided to read, do homework, play my Game Boy, or do whatever during recess.

      This might just be my stubborn, oppositional streak showing, but the fastest way to ensure I wouldn't do something like read during recess would've been to mandate it. Kind of crap to not give kids the choice to play or do other things during what's ostensibly supposed to be their time. Feels like a boss trying to tell me what exactly I can do during my off-the-clock lunch breaks as an adult, and would elicit much the same response (as polite of a 'go fuck yourself' as I could muster).

      18 votes
      1. DanBC
        Link Parent
        English schools are weirdly fascistic. Covid-19 regulations really ramped up the control that schools exert over children.

        English schools are weirdly fascistic.

        Covid-19 regulations really ramped up the control that schools exert over children.

        1 vote
    4. [2]
      Loire
      Link Parent
      I obviously have zero evidence to back this up but I would be very worried this would result in anxiety ridden, socially inept adults. If kids aren't getting time to just rest their minds,...

      I obviously have zero evidence to back this up but I would be very worried this would result in anxiety ridden, socially inept adults.

      If kids aren't getting time to just rest their minds, interact socially with one another, play recess games/sports like soccer, and they aren't getting any outside time (depending on where they are "reciting Tennyson"), how are they supposed to develop soft skills outside of the very important ability to recite 19th century English poetry?

      Sports activities are very important means for children to develop the ability to deal with adversity in a safe fashion. We already know the importance of mental rest during a long day of work. Impromptu schoolyard socializing is important for developing people skills. Do we really think memorizing "Who are wise in love, love most, say least." Is more important than the above?

      18 votes
    5. [2]
      babypuncher
      Link Parent
      It's great that this solves bullying, but it seems to miss the entire point of recess; to give students brains a break and give them an opportunity for fresh air and exercise.

      It's great that this solves bullying, but it seems to miss the entire point of recess; to give students brains a break and give them an opportunity for fresh air and exercise.

      14 votes
      1. post_below
        Link Parent
        There's no way it solves bullying. Makes it invisible during the new not-recess maybe. Not directed at the poster I'm replying to: In what universe could anyone imagine this would solve bullying?...

        It's great that this solves bullying

        There's no way it solves bullying. Makes it invisible during the new not-recess maybe.

        Not directed at the poster I'm replying to: In what universe could anyone imagine this would solve bullying?

        We're talking about a complex emotional reality with roots in evolved drives, insecurity, parenting and so on. You're gonna change that by reading sonnets instead of playing?

        Why do we so persistently think we can fix aspects of human nature by papering over them?

        9 votes
    6. MonkeyPants
      Link Parent
      This perfectly describes the early childhood private schools I visited briefly. I think the thing that concerns you is the fundamental lack of choice. Yes, giving little children the opportunity...

      dystopian vibes, with blank-eyed children chanting in unison under a 'benevolent' dictator.

      This perfectly describes the early childhood private schools I visited briefly.

      Rather than kicking a football around or jumping skipping ropes in the playground unsupervised, pupils practise sonnets by classic poets like Shelley and Tennyson or quiz each other on capital cities

      I think the thing that concerns you is the fundamental lack of choice. Yes, giving little children the opportunity for unstructured play will have unintended consequences. But those consequences will be both good and bad. Taking away childrens one slice of freedom to avoid a bad consequence fundamentally robs them of their autonomy in addition to losing all the positive benefits.

      Sounds like Goodhart's law run amok.

      12 votes
  2. [2]
    kilroy
    Link
    This will doubtlessly have some unintended consequences. Kids need unstructured play in which to learn how to deal with difficult situations and resolve them, both individually and as a group....

    This will doubtlessly have some unintended consequences. Kids need unstructured play in which to learn how to deal with difficult situations and resolve them, both individually and as a group. What happens when they leave school and the overly structured environment is taken away?

    24 votes
    1. vektor
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      Not to call bullying a necessary evil at all, but by not allowing for unstructured time spent with peers the kids didn't choose, you're also taking away any chance of learning to deal with the...

      Not to call bullying a necessary evil at all, but by not allowing for unstructured time spent with peers the kids didn't choose, you're also taking away any chance of learning to deal with the associated conflict. I completely agree.

      I think the reason why all this bullying and in general social nastiness decreased in my environment from middle school towards employment, is that people get more experienced in dealing with interpersonal conflict - from being exposed to it. That doesn't mean you should let kids bully each other - but you have to allow for situations where bullying is a potential outcome; you have to allow for that conflict. And then you have to teach kids how to resolve such situations. Maybe in that context what's missing for peaceful resolutions is that kids can't remove themselves from these situations: You can't just leave class over a bully, can't skip the break. That's what sets bullying in school apart from other situations of social conflict - where the victims have a better overview of their options and/or their options are a lot better. My experience anyway was that it gets better once you can choose to walk away, when you can choose your peers. Maybe that's a critical element to teach kids proper conflict resolution with natural consequences.

      15 votes
  3. Thrabalen
    Link
    Let me rephrase that headline: School almost 'eliminates individualism' with break-time ban If your idea to make school better is to remove the one moment of non-conformity the average student has...

    Let me rephrase that headline:

    School almost 'eliminates individualism' with break-time ban

    If your idea to make school better is to remove the one moment of non-conformity the average student has in your institution, the students aren't the problem.

    21 votes
  4. stu2b50
    Link
    I'm confused what the cause of the "elimination of bullying is" after reading the article. Is it that the students' newfound appreciation of ionic pentameter is causing them to be less violent or...

    I'm confused what the cause of the "elimination of bullying is" after reading the article. Is it that the students' newfound appreciation of ionic pentameter is causing them to be less violent or just that since they have little unsupervised interaction there isn't much opportunity to bully people to begin with?

    If it's the latter, I mean that's facetiously true in the same manner that all Zoom schooling prevents physical bullying.

    15 votes
  5. [2]
    Grzmot
    Link
    So in general I'm in favour of experimenting around, education hasn't changed much since it's invention, and since it's always been designed to produce workers rather than people, it has always...

    So in general I'm in favour of experimenting around, education hasn't changed much since it's invention, and since it's always been designed to produce workers rather than people, it has always felt a little rigid to me.

    Reciting poetry is good for memory, but doing it while on break feels like you're robbing people of important break time. Kids already spend long times in school trying to pay attention and memorize things, and doing it on break too can't be good for the average concentration during the day. Break won't end with you refreshed, it will end with you tired cause you just learned and recited a poem.

    Also what about the kids who don't want to do that? It's a break activity, so it can't affect any specific grade, and I can't image it's so wonderful to be forced to learn poems you really are not interested in. What if you, gods forbid, like playing football? That illegal now? This article does not go into a lot of detail and seems to push the supposed benefits hard while ignoring possible adverse side effects.

    Also in regards to the bullying, if the breaks are more heavily supervised to support this system (someone has to watch the kids do this important work of learning poems), of course bullying is going to go down, if the teachers are about and learning poems with kids. Of course it's not going to stop the bullying, it's just going to push it elsewhere, make it more invisible.

    Playing games and sport are a great way for kids to get to know their body, there' a reason why a lot of animals play with each other when they are small. It teaches you things that a school simply can't.

    I'll leave a link here to a school in San Francisco which has gone exactly the other way and is celebrated for it: https://www.sfbrightworks.org/

    10 votes
    1. Greg
      Link Parent
      That school looks like my childhood self's idea of heaven. I'd love to see more of those ideas adopted as far as they can be in situations where funding is tighter.

      I'll leave a link here to a school in San Francisco which has gone exactly the other way and is celebrated for it: https://www.sfbrightworks.org/

      That school looks like my childhood self's idea of heaven. I'd love to see more of those ideas adopted as far as they can be in situations where funding is tighter.

      6 votes
  6. culturedleftfoot
    Link
    This article needs more details to be meaningful, so I'm trying not to simply react to what seems a little... misguided. Interesting to note that there's no representation here of what the kids...

    This article needs more details to be meaningful, so I'm trying not to simply react to what seems a little... misguided. Interesting to note that there's no representation here of what the kids think about the whole deal.

    10 votes
  7. AnthonyB
    Link
    No one one gets bullied if you turn everyone into a nerd. Genius. Where did they get the inspiration from this, old philosoraptor memes?

    No one one gets bullied if you turn everyone into a nerd. Genius. Where did they get the inspiration from this, old philosoraptor memes?

    8 votes
  8. DanBC
    Link
    I feel uncomfortable with this approach. I much prefer the chaotic, unstructured play offered by this other primary (ages 5 to 11) school: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7UCex3K_0j4 Sometimes...

    I feel uncomfortable with this approach.

    I much prefer the chaotic, unstructured play offered by this other primary (ages 5 to 11) school: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7UCex3K_0j4

    Sometimes "health and safety" is used to stop this type of activity. But the English Health and Safety Executive have a balanced approach: https://www.hse.gov.uk/entertainment/childs-play-statement.htm

    5 votes