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New Zealand Schools Find Less Structure Improves Children's Behavior

timothy posted about 6 months ago | from the children-is-a-weird-plural dept.

Education 127

First time accepted submitter geminidomino writes "A research project involving eight schools in Dunedin and Auckland report that loosening rules on the playground may lead to fewer incidents of bullying, vandalism, and injury. One principal opines, 'The kids were motivated, busy and engaged. In my experience, the time children get into trouble is when they are not busy, motivated and engaged. It's during that time they bully other kids, graffiti or wreck things around the school.' As one might expect, the article states that there was a lot of resistance to the project, and I'm kind of surprised they got as many administrators to sign on as they did. The story may be premature, as the article states that 'the results of the study will be collated this year,' but it may be interesting to see how the numbers shake out."

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AND JOHNNY HATES JAZZ !! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46091427)

So what else is new ?? Nerd new that is !!

News for Nerds... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46091447)

...as reported on Fark last week.

that wasn't 'no rules' (3, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | about 6 months ago | (#46091467)

I can tell you from experience that 'lack of rules' does not prevent bullying.

And that's not what happened here either, from the story. They gave the kids toys, which kept them occupied. That's what happened. Some of the toys were slightly dangerous (like trees for climbing, one example), and that's why they called it 'getting rid of rules.'

Re:that wasn't 'no rules' (3, Insightful)

i kan reed (749298) | about 6 months ago | (#46091545)

Rules against harmful behavior are good, because they limit harmful behavior. Rules about how to play add stress, anger, and rebelliousness. This isn't especially complicated, and the headline makes perfect sense.

I mean, anarchists are going to believe their dumb philosophy regardless of your pedantic correction of a headline. You haven't won anyone over to the "some rules are good" land.

Re:that wasn't 'no rules' (3, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | about 6 months ago | (#46091703)

Rules against harmful behavior are good, because they limit harmful behavior. Rules about how to play add stress, anger, and rebelliousness. This isn't especially complicated, and the headline makes perfect sense.

It may make sense, but it's not related to the story. Really, read it; they gave the kids better toys, and the kids were more entertained. Some parents were worried because the toys might be dangerous. That's basically it.

Re:that wasn't 'no rules' (4, Informative)

i kan reed (749298) | about 6 months ago | (#46091745)

There were two references to things that could be called "toys" in the article, and neither is a resounding support of what you just said.

One:
"junk such as wood, tyres and an old fire hose."
Such amazing new toys there. WOOD! TIRES! whoooooooooooooa.
Two:
Skateboarding allowed(as opposed to skateboards provided, I guess). Which is a change in rules, not supplies.

Re:that wasn't 'no rules' (0)

phantomfive (622387) | about 6 months ago | (#46091791)

Yes. Now imagine how bad their toys must have been before, if tires are an improvement.

Re:that wasn't 'no rules' (4, Interesting)

jittles (1613415) | about 6 months ago | (#46091847)

Yes. Now imagine how bad their toys must have been before, if tires are an improvement.

Seriously? I would have loved to play with those tires in elementary school. In fact, I can tell you right now that the best week of the year during my childhood was always the week the city allowed you to dump all your trash in the street for pickup. We would most certainly play with old tires during that time. We would also take apart old/broken TV sets that were awaiting disposal, and other electronics. I had all sorts of fun fancy toys at home, but I always preferred being creative with random every day junk. You could satisfy all sorts of curiosity that you were not allowed to indulge in with your toys at home.

Re:that wasn't 'no rules' (4, Informative)

0123456 (636235) | about 6 months ago | (#46092353)

One of the best toys we had as kids was a huge cardboard box. On different days it would be a castle, or a spaceship, or an Moon base, or a cave, or... heck knows what.

Kids are quite happy to use their imagination, so long as they haven't had it beaten out of them by 'structure'.

Re:that wasn't 'no rules' (2)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 6 months ago | (#46092799)

The carton that a refrigerator comes in is ideal. Whenever somebody's parents got a new refrigerator, the cast off box was a treasure to us. Cartons for washers, dryers etc. were good, but came in second.

Re:that wasn't 'no rules' (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46092881)

kitehhhs luv dem t00000000222222222!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11111111111111

Re:that wasn't 'no rules' (1)

styrotech (136124) | about 6 months ago | (#46093599)

Tyres (especially from trucks and tractors) were common school playground equipment when I was a kid. As well as those large wooden spools used for heavy duty electrical cables and sections of 1m diameter concrete stormwater pipes. The pipes were concreted in place though - no rolling those around :)

Re:that wasn't 'no rules' (1)

Cimexus (1355033) | about 6 months ago | (#46094171)

Australian? That totally describes a typical 80s-90s Aussie playground...

Re:that wasn't 'no rules' (1)

Type44Q (1233630) | about 6 months ago | (#46093833)

We would also take apart old/broken TV sets that were awaiting disposal

And accidentally discovering how much energy a capacitor can hold is always the best part! :p

Re:that wasn't 'no rules' (4, Insightful)

AthanasiusKircher (1333179) | about 6 months ago | (#46091859)

Yes. Now imagine how bad their toys must have been before, if tires are an improvement.

What a failure of imagination. I feel sorry for you. Tires can be amazing toys -- they roll, they bounce, you can climb through them, you can line them up and run through them in a funny way, they do all sorts of wobbly funny things if you don't just roll them... add water and/or sand/mud, and I can think of a lot more fun activities.

It seems like you've never been around a small child who found a large box to be the best toy he got for Christmas. He doesn't care about the fancy toy inside of it -- the box is more entertainment by itself.

Witness that a few times, and you'll understand why the new toys in the story were probably an improvement over some sort of static fancy approved "equipment" that probably was what was there before.

Re:that wasn't 'no rules' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46091909)

Don't knock tires as a toy! Until you've crawled into one and rolled around a field (or down a hill if you're crazy) you cannot fully grasp how much better a tire is than some of the garbage they put out these days.

Re:that wasn't 'no rules' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46091831)

It's a toy, if it is used as a toy. A toy doesn't have to be an over-priced, highly marketed widget designed to separate parents from their money.

Re:that wasn't 'no rules' (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about 6 months ago | (#46091861)

But that doesn't support his fundamental principle that "A bunch of shiny new toys fixed everything, and rules had nothing to do with it"(paraphrased)

Re:that wasn't 'no rules' (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | about 6 months ago | (#46092037)

Yes, that statement is completely wrong. The toys weren't shiny.

Re:that wasn't 'no rules' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46091921)

One:
"junk such as wood, tyres and an old fire hose."
Such amazing new toys there. WOOD! TIRES! whoooooooooooooa.

Back in my day we had a stick, a ball and dreams... and we were HAPPY! Look at this... they got wood and a tire and the kids are happy? We return full circle...

Firehose? Yay!!! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46092135)

In college I lived in an old dorm with rooms around a central staircase. I was on one of the lower floors and my roommate and I had to continually deal with being pelted with water balloons from above. The dorm had fire hose connections, but the fire hoses had been removed from the dorms. Imagine that....

My roommate and I got fed up with being pelted, so after being pelted my roommate and I broke into one of the academic buildings one night and stole one of the fire hoses there. We lugged it back into our dorm room, got into gym shorts, walked out into the stair well and started hooking up the hose - getting water balloons tossed at us, buckets of water poured on us, all kinds of crap.

We charged the hose, started up the stairs, and soaked the living crap out of the rooms above us. Right under the closed doors and through the crap the water-balloon tossers tried to use to block the stream of water from the fire hose.

30 years later and I still laugh my ass off at that.

Re:that wasn't 'no rules' (2)

dcw3 (649211) | about 6 months ago | (#46092909)

I'm guessing you don't have kids, or been responsible for them. Preteens will generally play with the package as much as the toy inside. The bigger the box, the better, especially if they can fit inside of it. you don't need something fancy or expensive to entertain them.

Heard your kid say "I'm bored"? Send them outside, or give them a chore. Both work wonders. Too many helicopter parents feel the need to fill every waking moment of their child's life with planned activities.

Re:that wasn't 'no rules' (5, Informative)

AthanasiusKircher (1333179) | about 6 months ago | (#46091787)

Rules against harmful behavior are good, because they limit harmful behavior. Rules about how to play add stress, anger, and rebelliousness. This isn't especially complicated, and the headline makes perfect sense.

It may make sense, but it's not related to the story. Really, read it; they gave the kids better toys, and the kids were more entertained.

Actually, since I read TFA, I can say that it *IS* related to the story. They didn't just give the kids "better toys" -- they let them do things they weren't allowed to do before, like climb trees and play "bullrush" (basically a kind of fast-paced tag). I don't think they installed the trees there just for the kids to climb -- instead, the implication is that previously it was disallowed.

In other words, they used to have more rules prohibiting various games and activities on the playground. They got rid of many of those rules. They also happened to give them a few other "toys" as you put it, some of which were not the fancy "approved" safe toys for playgrounds or whatever.

But they also got rid of a number of restrictive rules, according to the article I read anyway. (Obviously, I don't think they got rid of the "no bullying" rule -- it's just that when kids have more things to do, they are less likely to find it necessary to get "in trouble" just to have something to do.)

Re:that wasn't 'no rules' (2)

jythie (914043) | about 6 months ago | (#46092233)

*nods* perhaps a better description would be that they provided them with more unstructured play then rather then being put in terms of rules.

Re:that wasn't 'no rules' (2)

Firethorn (177587) | about 6 months ago | (#46091555)

In my experience attempting too much control can and will lead to more misbehavior, I've seen it in dormitories.

When you try to organize things too much, you often end up with periods of nothing(misbehavior opportunities) due to scheduling, lagging, etc...

Re:that wasn't 'no rules' (4, Insightful)

i kan reed (749298) | about 6 months ago | (#46091603)

Teaching is a profession dominated by meticulous organizers, you know ENFJ types, because they're pretty much the only ones that can cope with the amount of personal planning it takes. So that mentality ends up being projected onto students too, who don't do as well that way.

(I just looked up ENFJ, it's apparently called the "teacher" personality type, funny)

Re:that wasn't 'no rules' (1)

Firethorn (177587) | about 6 months ago | (#46091671)

I just finished reading the article, I found it interesting that the 'toys' that they provided amounted to 'non-sharp junk' and provided far more entertainment than the 'child-safe' structures that were otherwise approved, resulting in them being very expensive(have to be carefully designed and built, unbreakable by kids), but 'boring' because they're static.

Meanwhile kids are unlikely to hurt themselves in a way that they won't be back up and playing in 5-10 minutes with a used car tire(carefully inspected to make sure no steel belting is exposed), but as they can move it around and do things with it will hold their interest for far longer. It's also essentially free.

Re:that wasn't 'no rules' (1)

AthanasiusKircher (1333179) | about 6 months ago | (#46091701)

I just finished reading the article, I found it interesting that the 'toys' that they provided amounted to 'non-sharp junk' and provided far more entertainment than the 'child-safe' structures that were otherwise approved, resulting in them being very expensive(have to be carefully designed and built, unbreakable by kids), but 'boring' because they're static.

This is a good point. It's probably not that surprising to any parents of small children, for whom playing with a big box that a present was wrapped in is often more fun than actually playing with the expensive toy that was inside the box.

Re:that wasn't 'no rules' (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about 6 months ago | (#46091709)

I feel like basically every other post in this entire discussion would be a better one for you to reply to with that point, in terms of relatedness.

Re:that wasn't 'no rules' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46092069)

Meanwhile kids are unlikely to hurt themselves in a way that they won't be back up and playing in 5-10 minutes with a used car tire(carefully inspected to make sure no steel belting is exposed)

Up and playing in 5-10 minutes?

When I was young there was hardly a year without someone breaking an arm or a leg.
Sure, it wasn't pleasant, but very educational and didn't harm anyone permanently.

Re:that wasn't 'no rules' (1)

sjames (1099) | about 6 months ago | (#46092505)

Perhaps, but the other few thousand injuries a year were small cuts, scrapes, and bruises, all quickly forgotten and healed.

Re:that wasn't 'no rules' (4, Interesting)

Jason Levine (196982) | about 6 months ago | (#46091695)

True, but I'd add two caveats. First, too little rules can lead to kids engaging in patently dangerous activities. I'm not talking about potentially dangerous things like climbing trees, but doing things like bullying or hitting each other with objects. You need basic ground rules. The trick is setting those ground rules without them morphing into a "control every move you make" rules system.

Second, there are some kids that like organization. My son has been diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome and Anxiety Disorder. He thrives on schedules and hates disorganized time. The more time he spends where he doesn't know what he is supposed to be doing, the more anxious he gets and the more likely he is to engage in behavior that will get him in trouble. (Sadly, too few people see this rising anxiety and just assume he's a trouble-maker despite a doctor's diagnosis and repeated talks with people about ways to spot his anxiety.) In his case, you almost can't schedule his day too much. Almost because being too specific on the schedule can lead to anxiety when the schedule needs to change on the fly. He doesn't handle this well either.

Of course, I recognize that he's the exception rather than the rule, but it just goes to show that you need to take the individual child's needs into consideration rather than assuming that one set of rules (or lack thereof) will fit all children.

Re:that wasn't 'no rules' (1)

PRMan (959735) | about 6 months ago | (#46091837)

And I would guess that he would gravitate to the organized bullrush game.

Re:that wasn't 'no rules' (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 6 months ago | (#46091881)

Second, there are some kids that like organization... you need to take the individual child's needs into consideration rather than assuming that one set of rules (or lack thereof) will fit all children.

Exactly - a 'one-size-fits-all' solution does not work in situations where "all" are of completely differing and wildly varying "sizes." The fact is, some kids learn better from cramming books; some learn from working with their hands; some can't fathom a complex schedule, and some can't fathom not having every aspect of their day planned out beforehand. But the government and schools either fail to recognize this fact, or just ignore it... were I a betting man, my money would be on the latter, as custom-tailoring education so that it actually works for everyone requires critical thought, and critical thinking is hard.

Much easier to just determine a 'standard' acceptable thought process, then dope the holy living fuck out of every kid who doesn't exhibit it.

Re:that wasn't 'no rules' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46091969)

The trick is setting those ground rules without them morphing into a "control every move you make" rules system.

There's no trick really. You just need abstract ground rules like "don't hurt people". Courts are not involved here so as long as reason is used in punishment and severity, you don't need a series of laws. Kids will learn how to behave in society far better if they have abstract rules and it is explained why what they did is wrong according to those rules.

Re:that wasn't 'no rules' (1)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | about 6 months ago | (#46093341)

That goes for adults, too. Treat people like little children, and they will act accordingly.

Re:that wasn't 'no rules' (2)

Shalaska (1964046) | about 6 months ago | (#46091573)

Exactly, and apparently the students are being better monitored for the study, every time I was bullied in the past it was while no one was watching or around, and I almost never reported it. That said it is only a matter of time until some kid is seriously hurt (or killed) falling out of a tree (or similar activity) and regardless of the effects on bullying those rules will be right back in place.

Re:that wasn't 'no rules' (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about 6 months ago | (#46091641)

That is one of those things. If you do any sort of double blind study on education, the students in the control group invariably do better than unstudied typical students because the increased focus on performance tends to boost it.

Re:that wasn't 'no rules' (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46091865)

Neat! Lets do more studies!

Re:that wasn't 'no rules' (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about 6 months ago | (#46091963)

Um, they cost a lot more than just hiring more teachers.

Re:that wasn't 'no rules' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46092021)

You don't give the resiliency of kids enough credit. I fell out of many trees as a kid and had two vines break on me while swinging on them. Had the wind completely knocked out of me twice (the most frightening experience in my life). The worst I ever saw from friends was a broken arm, but they healed up fine.

Re:that wasn't 'no rules' (1)

sjames (1099) | about 6 months ago | (#46092543)

Actually, they reported less monitoring is found to be necessary with the rules relaxed.

Re:that wasn't 'no rules' (3, Insightful)

Sique (173459) | about 6 months ago | (#46091577)

Actually, it's not toys the teachers gave them. Toys are objects specially designed to be played with. None of the items they gave to the kids was specially designed to be played with. A tree is not a toy. An old tyre is not a toy. A hose is not a toy. And thus there was no direction for the kids if and how they had to play with the items. And that's what kept the children occupied, that's what kept them motivated and busy.

And that's what also reduced the bullying. If there are much more exciting things to do than bullying someone, why even bother with it?

Re:that wasn't 'no rules' (0)

geekoid (135745) | about 6 months ago | (#46091647)

A toy is any item that can be used for play.

I would wait before saying the bullying was actual reduced, it may have just been moved into an allowed game.

Re:that wasn't 'no rules' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46091955)

A rope isn't a "toy" like a knife isn't a "weapon".

What's that? Jump rope? All of a sudden the rope is a toy...

Re:that wasn't 'no rules' (1)

dcw3 (649211) | about 6 months ago | (#46094027)

Your idea conflicts with others, so let's just call yours wrong.

Wikipedia "A toy is any item that can be used for play."

Re:that wasn't 'no rules' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46091607)

Hmm would depend on the group of kids. As one bully would be taken care of by the rest of the group... OR if he is stronger than the rest they may create a standard hierarchy.

Would depend on the structure the adults setup.

Dont flip out because snowflake bruised their knee. Get them a band aid and say 'hmm that probably wasnt a good idea was it?'

Toys? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46091633)

FTFA:

Instead of a playground, children used their imagination to play in a "loose parts pit" which contained junk such as wood, tyres and an old fire hose.

Posted that...reread your comment....

Are you in the States? Here, we are so scared of "lawsuits" (I think the risk is WAY too exaggerated, but whatever.,) , kids would NOT be allowed to climb a tree.

We have become a bunch of safety conscious ninnies. It's true that had injuries and other school yard injuries happen (I was knocked unconscious from playing on monkey bars. I woke up with a splitting headache that I will NEVER forget!), but there's a point when safety stifles children's ability to play and burn off that energy they have - and allows them to sit still in class.

But unfortunately, we in the US use Ritalin and other drugs to accomplish what some recess time in the pit would.

Of course, I wonder what kind of issues these kids who where put on Ritalin for no other reason than being a bit rowdy will have on their psyche.

Re:that wasn't 'no rules' (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46091651)

The point isn't that 'lack of rules prevent bullying', the point is that 'less rules prevent help bullying'.

When you put a group of people/children in a high stress situation with no outlet, they're either going to turn against themselves, each other or the system. Since children are too young to challenge the system and no one likes to GET "ouchies", they're naturally going to turn against one another, ie. bullying.

Re:that wasn't 'no rules' (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | about 6 months ago | (#46091659)

Idle hands = devil's workshop.

When kids (or adults) are hemmed in by rules and basically made to "sit down, shut up and wait," that's when they find ways to do things...

When "freedom" keeps them actively engaged doing things they find fun, why would they look for trouble?

Unfortunately, I think it's a self-regulating state, like happiness or heroin, get a little and you feel great - next time you'll need more to get that good feeling back. Unfortunately for the schools, if they "liberally up-regulate" freedom 13 years in a row, the children will be ill-prepared to deal with a world demanding attendance, labor, and good behavior in-between.

So, just re-structure society to abolish the 40 hour on-site workweek, need to scratch together free-market money to feed and house yourselves, and we'll all be feeling fine with no bullies on our playgrounds.

Re:that wasn't 'no rules' (3, Insightful)

sjames (1099) | about 6 months ago | (#46091849)

Why not reduce the regimentation of society as a whole? The mass of SSRIs and other happy pills people are gulping down to avoid total withdrawal and/or suicide may be telling us something.

TFA isn't talking about declaring a 24/7 free for all, just including an unstructured break in the day. They're finding that it translates to better behavior and performance during the necessarily more structured times.

So give the weekends and vacation days back and things will go better during the week. Only regiment what actually requires it. Replace managers who use obedience to regimentation as a way to fluff their egos with those more oriented towards productive and happy employees.

Re:that wasn't 'no rules' (3, Insightful)

JoeMerchant (803320) | about 6 months ago | (#46091995)

I'll subscribe to your newsletter, but I don't think you've got a snowball's chance in hell of seeing this kind of change become mainstream in your lifetime.

There's a chaotic mix out there, and some of the larger, evidence driven organizations are finding just what you say - reduce regimentation and get more productivity for less cost, and they attempt to drive that through the company structure to make themselves more competitive in the marketplace.

There's also a tremendous holdover of WWII boot camp mentality about "sir, yes, SIR" being productive and efficient, and when the touchy-feely crap has a bad day that boot camp mentality makes a resurgence - usually from grass roots believers who can't stand seeing their subordinates screwing off without getting punished the way they did back in the day.

At least most of us have stopped beating our children regularly as a teaching tool.

Re:that wasn't 'no rules' (1)

dcw3 (649211) | about 6 months ago | (#46092307)

We ran into this about fifteen years ago when my company first started to let people telecommute. I was part of our pilot program. Some of the managers didn't mind, but a few complained that they didn't have a way to know when their people were working. Those managers should have been fired. If they don't collect production metrics, and can't tell if their employees are delivering products on schedule, then they have no business being in charge. Anyway, we still get to telecommute with our direct manager's approval. That said, it's not for everyone. Some people need structure, and work better when being told what to do constantly. One size doesn't fit all.

Re:that wasn't 'no rules' (1)

sjames (1099) | about 6 months ago | (#46092619)

Sure, different people do better in different environments. Reduced regimentation means those who telecommute best telecommute, those who do better in an office go to the office. But when they do, perhaps a floating lunch time works better than a sharply defined lunch. Some may find that talking about a project in the break room over coffee is more productive than sitting in the cube farm. Perhaps it's better for everyone if their work day is shifted by an hour.

Re:that wasn't 'no rules' (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | about 6 months ago | (#46093531)

Some people need structure, and work better when being told what to do constantly.

Then you can get into nature vs nurture and wonder if the people who need structure need it because they've never been taught how to deal without it.

I think that a U.S. Bachelor's degree (with decent grades, from a reasonable large school) is as much a sign of some capacity to function without rigid structure as any indication of learning the material in the degree specialization. At least when I went to High School, it was regimented like jail, and then University was like - show up, or don't, whatever dude. I did O.K., but the top 2 graduates from my High School were "flunking out" by sophomore year, not actually booted out for bad grades, but grades bad enough that they elected to pursue other schools / programs - these were the 4.0 kids in high school.

prisoners have 24/7 to think how to make trouble (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 6 months ago | (#46091727)

well, they were less like prisoners.

prisoners have 24/7 to think how to make trouble for other prisoners and the coppers.

(occupied prisoners are easier to handle too..)

Re:that wasn't 'no rules' (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about 6 months ago | (#46091827)

I can tell you from experience that 'lack of rules' does not prevent bullying.

And that's not what happened here either, from the story. They gave the kids toys, which kept them occupied. That's what happened. Some of the toys were slightly dangerous (like trees for climbing, one example), and that's why they called it 'getting rid of rules.'

Yeah, lack of enforcement is the 100% recipe for abuse. Personal experience there, from good ol' days. Perhaps a key here is saying, you're all on your own, but the first infraction is the last infraction - we place bullies in Special Education, because they often need some special attention anyway.

Re:that wasn't 'no rules' (1)

Havokmon (89874) | about 6 months ago | (#46092187)

I can tell you from experience that 'lack of rules' does not prevent bullying. And that's not what happened here either, from the story. They gave the kids toys, which kept them occupied. That's what happened. Some of the toys were slightly dangerous (like trees for climbing, one example), and that's why they called it 'getting rid of rules.'

This more reminds me of the 'new at the time' Kindergarten teacher "Hi, so your child is restless, do you mind if we tie him to a chair? Our professors say that children "

"Lady, you're telling me you can't control a 5yr old little boy? They're the definition of restless. Is he running around the room? "

"No"

"Is he beating on other kids"

"No no, he's just restless and doesn't always pay attention"

"As I said, that's what a little boy does. You have to attract his attention, not expect it. Make it interesting for him - that's your job."

Re:that wasn't 'no rules' (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 6 months ago | (#46092993)

My professors say that children, too.

Re:that wasn't 'no rules' (1)

Havokmon (89874) | about 6 months ago | (#46093031)

rofl. That's what I get for putting [blah blah blah blah I forget exactly] in &gt &lt tags

Re:that wasn't 'no rules' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46092455)

Putting humans in an environment with trees has a calming effect compared to putting them in a caged area, possibly surrounded with concrete. They might be onto something here..

Re:that wasn't 'no rules' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46092725)

They reduced the rules about what toys were acceptable.

The result was more variety in what toys were available to be played with which kept the children more engaged.

20 years from now. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46091475)

Instead of a playground, children used their imagination to play in a "loose parts pit" which contained junk such as wood, tyres and an old fire hose.

New Zealand's incredibly innovative and creative economy has allowed their populace to experience the highest living standard the World has ever known, followed by Finland's.

The United States, who once held that title, is currently revamping their "No Child Left Behind" program and is currently changing their CS classes for the latest computer language and technologies in order to be competitive with the rest of the World in doing New Zealand's grunt programming work.

In other news, New Zealand is struggling with the social issue of why there are still a bottom class of people who haven't yet achieved billionaire status. Of course, the rest of the World likes to use the derogatory term, "New Zealand Problems" in reference to the old "First World Problems" that was popular a couple of decades ago.

Re:20 years from now. (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about 6 months ago | (#46091561)

That's some hella inlflation for 20 years.

Ah...not really. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46091731)

That's some hella inlflation for 20 years.

In my post from the "future", I was hoping to imply that most people in New Zealand were billionaires (will normal inflation of 3% or so) because the entire populace was so creative and free thinking that most were to become billionaires and that it was so common that the folks were wondering why there was still this "class" of poor people (net worth less than a billion - like 500 million) who couldn't make it.

It was a jab at our (US) educational system that ... interpret for yourself.

So, figure out who the "Christ" figure was (bashing my English classes in HS)

Re:Ah...not really. (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about 6 months ago | (#46091763)

You've put a few sentences in there, but they seem to range from tangentially related to completely unrelated to each other. Are you sure you have a cohesive point?

Point? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46091871)

Previous quote by you:

That's some hella inlflation for 20 years.

Thinking that you meant that money is inflated by central banks or some other means. I then explain why most are billionaires - it's not because of inflation. Then you post:

Are you sure you have a cohesive point?

They are billionaires because they fucking creative: they are not a bunch of mindless drones.

I have issues. I read too much from varying sources and then I try to squeeze a book's worth of ideas into a single Slashdot post and it many times comes across as gibberish.

I think I need to follow some advice from this old Buddhist master I once knew: Think less. Talk less. Just be.

Re:20 years from now. (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 6 months ago | (#46092765)

New Zealand's incredibly innovative and creative economy has allowed their populace to experience the highest living standard the World has ever known, followed by Finland's.

How are you measuring "living standard" here, I'm really interested. Because there are a lot of pitfalls you can fall into while trying to measure that, and no very good ways to measure it.

Re:20 years from now. (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 6 months ago | (#46093029)

New Zealand's incredibly innovative and creative economy has allowed their populace to experience the highest living standard the World has ever known, followed by Finland's.

No, in GDP/capita (PPP) Finland is ranked 37th and NZ is 48. The US is 13. Finland and NZ are also ranked lower than Norway, Switzerland, Austria, Canada, Australia, Netherlands, Ireland, Sweden, Iceland, Germany, Taiwan, Belgium, Denmark, UK and Japan. Source: https://www.cia.gov/library/pu... [cia.gov]

NZ and/or Finland may be wonderful places to live, because they're both more than wealthy enough to more than provide for people's basic needs, and I think there's a lot more to quality of life than standard of living (a phrase which in practice means material prosperity). Regardless, your claim is wrong.

Re:20 years from now. (1)

styrotech (136124) | about 6 months ago | (#46093483)

All they are doing is winding back the clock to what NZ primary schools were like 30+yrs ago. So no, I don't expect this will make any difference to the economy.

But being an NZer in my 40s though, I can identify with the results of the study. My primary school was like this (bullrush was great fun) and there was next to no bullying. Then onto a strict private secondary school with endless dumb rules and punishments for everything - the bullying there was terrible.

not found (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46091477)

So when you wrote 'Find' in the article, you actually meant 'May Find'?

In other words... (1)

Nidi62 (1525137) | about 6 months ago | (#46091491)

When children have pent up energy they act out and vent their energy and frustrations in what few outlets there are: other children and objects. Like the old saying: idle hands make the devil's work. When children get bored they get destructive (bullying could be considered destructive as well). Anyone that has kids or can still remember being a kid should already realize this.

Re:In other words... (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about 6 months ago | (#46091663)

"Idle hands do the devils work" was the dumb excuse for the existing plan of having recess be teacher led activities. If anything this study is contrary evidence to the principle.

I take it from a different POV (1)

gurps_npc (621217) | about 6 months ago | (#46091507)

From me it's not the lack of rules, instead it's stopping a concerted attempt to prevent the kids from having fun. Basically, adults are taught that play is bad. Whether it is kids with toy guns, video games, or anything else. Play is GOOD for you. Note, this also applies to marriage. If you don't play with your spouse, you won't stay married.

Re:I take it from a different POV (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about 6 months ago | (#46091679)

And if you don't play at your job, you'll get fired.

Re:I take it from a different POV (1)

evil_aaronm (671521) | about 6 months ago | (#46091841)

I wouldn't say that adults are taught that play is bad, but more a combination of they forget that it's fun - they've lost their youthful spirit, if they ever had one - and/or they're lazy. I'm a relatively young grand-parent and I actively engage my grand-daughter just like I did my own son, meaning I chase her around on the playground, I tussle with her, I get on the floor and play when she wants something less energetic, and I can tell you, it's a lot of work. We both enjoy it, but it's exhausting for me, some days, and I'm in pretty good shape. Thankfully, I have only one grand-child.

Teachers, and most adults, I find, do not have the same mindset, or level of energy: typically, if it means doing anything more than standing around, talking with other adults, they don't want to do it. Just count the number of adults who actively engage the kids in games on the playground outside of school hours. If you find just one, I'd be surprised. And I don't mean a parent pushing a kid on the swings; that takes almost no energy. By extension, I think if teachers see kids getting a little too active, it threatens their comfort level because the teachers may actually have to do something other than stand around.

What a shock.... (1)

tompaulco (629533) | about 6 months ago | (#46091535)

So if there are no laws, nobody breaks the law. So now there is no bullying, just a lot of kids playing sadistic and reluctant masochist games.

Re:What a shock.... (1)

sjames (1099) | about 6 months ago | (#46092681)

More like if there aren't a zillion petty laws, less people break the ones that really matter.

Alternative headline: "Let kids play, and they do" (1)

AthanasiusKircher (1333179) | about 6 months ago | (#46091597)

There is nothing radical here. Basically -- as most people who have kids or spend any time around kids today know -- schools and parents are incredibly overprotective of kids. They worry about any little possible injury or harm to self-esteem or whatever.

It sounds like these schools had banished so many supposedly "dangerous" activities from playtime that the kids had nothing to do. So -- surprise -- they got into trouble! They beat up other kids, misbehaved in various ways, etc. Because they were BORED.

Now, they let kids run around and do the kind of fun silly crap kids are supposed to do. And -- surprise -- they actually have fewer disciplinary problems! Because the kids get TO PLAY.

From TFA:

When researchers - inspired by their own risk-taking childhoods - decided to give children the freedom to create their own play, principals shook their heads

Seriously?!? Kids need time to explore the world, figure things out for themselves, even -- the horror! -- occasionally get hurt or screw up in some minor way. And, guess what, when they do, they learn from it! Isn't that what education is supposed to be about?

Wow -- I understand that parents are overprotective and schools get overprotective to avoid lawsuits, but I never thought so many educators could be so stupid as not to realize that kids appreciate having some freedom and free time in their lives... and they probably will behave better when they have that.

Re:Alternative headline: "Let kids play, and they (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46091697)

Idle hands are the devil's workshop.

Next!

Re:Alternative headline: "Let kids play, and they (1)

PRMan (959735) | about 6 months ago | (#46091851)

There are no lawsuits for personal injury in New Zealand. One of the benefits of a really good nationalized health care system.

Re:Alternative headline: "Let kids play, and they (3, Informative)

AthanasiusKircher (1333179) | about 6 months ago | (#46092155)

There are no lawsuits for personal injury in New Zealand.

Yes -- you're right. I forgot about that quirk in tort law there.

One of the benefits of a really good nationalized health care system.

Umm, not really. Have a look here [healthaffairs.org] for some historical perspective:

New Zealand's compensation system arose not in response to concerns about medical malpractice but through farsighted workers' compensation reforms. A Royal Commission, established in 1967, concluded that accident victims needed a secure source of financial support when deprived of their capacity to work.

Until 1992, when medical terminology in the act was clarified so it was clear that medical accidents were covered, claims for medical injuries were very few. (The article I linked notes that, historically, only 0.05% of claims for personal injury were related to health care on average.)

So, no -- this "benefit" came out of a desire to provide compensation to people who were the victims of accidents in general, and particularly out of compensation for workers. (I have nothing against nationalized health care, by the way -- and I think it can be a very good idea. But it is not the reason why personal injury torts are prohibited.)

keeping them busy (1)

Fluffy the Destroyer (3459643) | about 6 months ago | (#46091733)

I have a child which has a mental handicap (he needs more time to learn what a child does in 1 day, he does it in 2 or couple more days). On top of that he had a hearing problem and he's hyperactive at the same time. Yup i got the whole package.

I go with pure logic here. I try to keep him busy all the time. Supervised or not that's not important but it does have a certain priority of course depending on how you know your child (could be 12 kids in a room instead of your own). If I don't keep him busy or let him go free, he will do what he wants and that means he could go in his room and empty all his closets and...well piss me off in other words. Same goes in a class or in school. It's not rocket science. just keep them busy with activities or toys and you wont see them in trouble.... its simple trust me.

I think it's about avoid us vs them. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46091759)

I don't think the amount of rules and structure is why this system works better. I think it's that with less rules especially with kids, you get less of a us vs them mentality. The trick isn't so much in allowing the students to do whatever they want, it's in getting them to want to follow the rules. If you look at prisons you'll see varying levels of this mentality between the guards and the prisoners. Hell, There is an old store about a retail giant sick of theft, it starts a strict security program on the employees. But 'thefts" keep going up. It seems almost impossible for the employee to be stealing the merchandise especially it bigger TVs. Compters, etc. As it turns out some of the employee started using the garbage compactor to express their dissatisfaction with being searched every time they went to the parking lot... So having too many rules will defiantly foster this mentality.

Yes and no ... (1)

MacTO (1161105) | about 6 months ago | (#46091771)

From my experience with children in childcare settings, they need a combination of structured and unstructured play. Most children seem to do well with unstructured play for limited durations. This is usually between half an hour and an hour, depending upon the children involved. If the duration becomes too long, then you start running into issues with boredom. That's when structured play should enter the picture. Not only does it reduce immediate conflicts, but it also gives them ideas for those unstructured times.

Ideally, adults would monitor the free play in an environment with limited rules then switch to structured play when signs of risky activities appear.

Incidentally, simply switching from a highly regulated environment to one with few rules is a bad idea. You have to give them the tools first (e.g ideas for games, social boundaries, etc.).

Not in the U.S. (1)

MDMurphy (208495) | about 6 months ago | (#46091853)

This wouldn't work in the U.S. While the article says they tossed out all the rules, I think more likely they just let kids be kids. But here in the U.S. the school and the teachers would be screwed if a kid got hurt even in the slightest falling from a tree. So, here they do stuff to avoid blame for anything (with the associated lawsuit), even if it's not better for the kids in the long run.

feeling powerless contributes to bullying film @11 (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46091903)

Basically, if you let kids self-determine what to do, they don't try to regain a feeling of power by forcing their will on others. Don't make kids bridle against authority, and they won't.

CAPTCHA: quarrels

Imagine a street with different families... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46091937)

Here is a mind experiment. Imagine you live on a street. Each house holds a different family with children, and each household operates a different 'regime'- you can imagine all the various types of family homes you have come across in your life.

Now, in your mind, think about the experience of children in each of the different homes. Which types of regime produce the happiest kids, the most well adjusted, the most successful, the most moral, etc.

Let me ask you a question. Does the home with the most rules, including the most petty and trivial, with oppressive discipline to ensure even the most petty rules are obeyed, come top of any of your lists for a good place for children to be raised? Unless you came from such a household yourself, and you are still in denian, the answer will be a resounding "NO!".

In the UK, Tony Blair's puppets have placed a particular person in control of OFSTED, the over-arching body with responsibility over all schools in the UK. This person loudly proclaims his love of the pettiest rules possible, and the most draconian punishment of children who infringe such rules. This abusive monster was previously given free reign in a inner-city school where the parents have least social-economic power to protect their children from abuse. In the 70s and 80s, schools in this district were a hotbed of the most appalling physical abuse, with the majority of pupils, boys and girls, being beaten at least several times a year.

Treat people like inferior sh*t, and only fear holds the majority in place. The irony is in such regimes, the alpha criminal types actually get worse. Britain's worst gangsters went to schools were they expected to be severely beaten every week, and this abuse just made them 'stronger'. But the majority of kids in such abusive schools are ordinary good people, who simply tolerate the abuse, while being psychologically damaged by it.

So why is it that monsters who propose such vicious and abusive regimes in schools so frequently win the support of politicians, and get to run schools in deprived areas. Because middle class morons like you, the reader, think there exists an 'under-class' that needs to be beaten into submission, so that YOU can benefit, in some way, from their brutal conditioning. You wouldn't allow this abuse to happen in the schools where YOUR kids go, but you try to excuse it as an 'unfortunate necessity' for children of the 'lesser'.

A school is a place of learning, and should allow ZERO abuse by the adults that work there. It is DISGUSTING that the majority of US States allow BDSM rape of school-children via 'corporal punishment'. In America where school child beating is legal, shield laws protect teachers from ANY legal action by the parents, even if that state prosecutes parents who physically punish their children in any way.

American MALE teachers can legally force an 18-year old female student to bend over, discuss the position of her buttocks with her, give her intimate instructions on how to position herself, rub the paddle against her buttocks as a sexual caress, and beat her until she is blubbering, all with the active approval of most of the Americans that visit this site. Yet an off-colour joke at some technical conference has most of you dribblers here expressing your outrage in some pathetic attempt to prove your 'political correctness'.

Of course, as the article says, Humans respond far better to being treated with respect and dignity. The language used is a LIE though. 'Less structure' means ANARCHY- and 'anarchy' actually means, for those of you poorly educated enough not to know, "STRUCTURE FROM WITHIN". Let me repeat that. Anarchy means that the individual is encouraged to create appropriate rules for their own decent existence. Internal rules rather than external. Local rules rather than remote rules. Bottom-up rather than top-down.

 

Based on my experiences being bullied (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46091971)

I think this is a great idea. I was regularly bullied until we started playing British Bulldog on a regular basis. When I started running over the bullies and "fairly" beating the hell out of them, they started leaving me alone.

Less behavior problems. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46091997)

I'm curious if some of these behavior problems were simply things that the rules did not allow for previously. "You cannot climb trees! Such bad behavior!" You are now allowed to climb trees. "Look at how much the overall behavior has improved!" *Did not RTFA

Coercion is immoral (1)

Flammon (4726) | about 6 months ago | (#46092073)

Many children misbehave when you force them to follow rules outside of the non aggression principle. From my experience, it's like a Chinese finger trap, the more you try to control them, the more they do the opposite of what you want. Coercion works for some children early on but rebellious behaviour eventually surfaces, usually in their teens which is when some parents have difficulty.

My most valuable lesson as a parent is don't control you children. Guide them. If they don't please you with their choices, don't punish them, it's ineffective and it will make them resent you.

Re:Coercion is immoral (1)

jittles (1613415) | about 6 months ago | (#46092333)

Many children misbehave when you force them to follow rules outside of the non aggression principle. From my experience, it's like a Chinese finger trap, the more you try to control them, the more they do the opposite of what you want. Coercion works for some children early on but rebellious behaviour eventually surfaces, usually in their teens which is when some parents have difficulty.

My most valuable lesson as a parent is don't control you children. Guide them. If they don't please you with their choices, don't punish them, it's ineffective and it will make them resent you.

So what do you do when they don't do their chores? Or their homework? Or they beat up their little sibling?

Re:Coercion is immoral (2)

Flammon (4726) | about 6 months ago | (#46092607)

I follow the non aggression principle [wikipedia.org] .

Chores: No punishment but I will show them that if they help me, I'll help them. Next time they ask for a ride to their friend's house, I might be too busy for example because I need to do the chores that they didn't do.
Homework: No punishment. I will try to find out why they aren't doing their homework, encourage them and show them that education will make their lives much easier later in life.
Beat up their sibling: I'll physically defend the sibling but there will be no punishment. I'll try conjure feelings of empathy in them.

Re:Coercion is immoral (2)

jhumkey (711391) | about 6 months ago | (#46093169)

Coercion is immoral WHEN DEALING WITH AN ADULT.

Children aren't adults. They can't reason like adults.
They're unfinished adults in training.
Swatting an adult on the butt because they started to dart out into traffic . . . would offend most people.
Swatting a child on the butt because they did the same . . . might just keep them alive long enough to be an adult one day themselves. Because you won't always be there to save them.

You may be right . . . swatting the child on the butt to enforce a lesson may very well be "Immoral" . . . it may also be "necessary" to train the child to not do dangerous things that can kill them.
(Unmarried with no children so of course I'm an expert. But . . . ) I'd prefer to have a live offended child . . . than an emotionally well adjusted casket filler.
Sorry if that sounds brutal . . . I don't intend to offend. Its just unreasonable to assume you can "teach" a child, in the same way you "teach" an adult.

I wouldn't "reason" with a two year old why drinking drain cleaner is a bad idea . . . I'd just lock it out of their reach. Yes, they have rights and emotions, and we want them to be non-traumatized and emotionally sound adults . . . but they must LIVE to achieve that.

Re:Coercion is immoral (2)

operagost (62405) | about 6 months ago | (#46094039)

What do you do when they refuse to eat, then cry that they're starving when you're out in public?

What do you do when they refuse to use the bathroom, then pee themselves in public?

What do you do when they assault other people, especially other kids?

What do you do when they dart into traffic? Hang out an open window on the second floor? Play with matches? Play with knives? Torture animals? Steal?

I can guarantee you your lax homework policy will not fly with teachers or administrators-- and rightfully so. They may end up in a remedial track early, and they'll be too ignorant to understand the long-term implications.

Captain Obvious is making the rounds today (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46092079)

...

Freedom of NON-association... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46093175)

If people had the most basic human right of all - the freedom to NOT associate with people they don't want to, there would be no more bullying, would there.

Decent, nice kids would NOT associate with bullies would they, they are FORCED to, which bullies love, of course.

If people could actually get away from bullies, the bullies would soon have to change their shitty behaviour, because almost nobody would associate with them.

This is so basic, yet almost everybody accepts being FORCED to associate with people who are ruining your life as if it's 'just the way things are'.

Bull rush (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46093339)

My generation played bull rush years before it was banned. Yes it is a bit dangerous, but it was a lot of fun so we played it a lot, almost everyday and I think some kids must have got hurt but if don't think anyone at my school was seriously hurt.
These are then rules as I remember.
A bunch of children go into a a football field. One of the kids is "in". He/she stands in th middle of the field and the rest of the kids stand at one end of the field. The "in" player the calls one of the crowd and that person the has to run to the other end of the field. If they are tackled they also become "in" and help call and tackle. At some point there is a call of "bull rush" and everyone runs to the end of the field trying to avoid being caught and becoming "in". The game then starts again playing from the other end. The game proceeds till there is only one player not "in". When that person is caught you start again with that person being in and every one else out.
The game was most dangerous when there enough in people to increase the prob.mof high speed collisions.
I remember playing this game as a primary school kid and having the time of my life.

Re: Bull rush (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46093435)

Here's some kids playing it http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/schools/8797378/Bullrush-back-at-Christchurch-school

WTF Pic? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46094005)

If you're going to subject us to slashdot-for-the-over-50-crowd beta, at least do more than a single keyword seach for the pic. That pic, from a Baltimore pep rally, has nearly nothing to do with the story other than the word "bully".

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