Sometime back, I wrote a post poking fun at the government’s campaign to ban bullying. Both of my loyal readers at the time must have tolerated my political incorrectness, because a full week after posting it, I didn’t receive one scrap of hate mail. The fact that my loyal readers then, as now, tend to be website owners from the Sudan with limited mastery of the English language may or may not have been a factor.
In that post, I predicted correctly that the war on bullying would fade and be replaced by a new scandalous threat. I also predicted, incorrectly this time, that this new menace would be the government’s discovery of roach spray as a secret ingredient in a variety of hair products.
It appears that government officials aren’t the only ones who are eager to identify new threats to the safety of our youngsters. Some of the sharpest school administrators have stepped up to lend a hand defining the most evil enemies of the well-being of our children. The scourges they’ve targeted aren’t nearly as benign as poisoned hair gel. No my friends, these perils are far more insidious.
“Balls!” said the Queen
A school in Long Island has decided to ban balls during recess. The administration cited student safety as their main concern. The students in recess at Weber Middle School will be safe from footballs, baseballs, lacrosse balls and presumably matzo balls. In addition, that life-threatening staple of school yards known as “tag” has also been banned. The disappointed students were told they were still allowed to play kick the can, though they would be using a Nerf brand can and wouldn’t actually be allowed to kick it. When recess ends, each student will get the same sized trophy and a certificate of participation.
8th grader Billy Snednicki described his emotions about the ban. “The new rules say I’m not allowed to bring a lacrosse ball, but it don’t say nothin’ about bringin’ my stick. So I’m bringin’ it. It aint much fun without a ball to throw, but it’s the principle, ya know?”
The school’s principal, Irvin Sukk, could not be reached for comment as he was presumably busy drafting an addendum to the rules, adding lacrosse sticks, field hockey sticks, pointed sticks, glue sticks and pick-up-sticks to the list of banned items. In an ironic twist, the administrators who were responsible for the ban, appear to have no shortage of balls themselves.
Can we shake on that?
Another school, this one in Kentucky, has identified a different scary risk to their students. The Kentucky High School Athletic Association Commissioner issued a directive which forbids high school athletes from sharing post-game handshakes with their opponents. This would be understandable if one’s opponents were known to have MRSA or insisted on kissing one another on the cheek like those sketchy Europeans. Instead, the ban is due to several incidents of fights breaking out during post game handshakes. Apparently the traditional penalty of getting kicked off the team for fighting during handshakes was not working. The upside is that now students are no longer required to say “Nice game” when they don’t really mean it.
We’re not BFF’s, we’re just F’s
For those among you who believe that restricting school children from basic life experiences is an American phenomenon, I bring you the case of the several schools in England. These schools have outlawed children’s rights to choose a best friend. Educational psychologists felt that the move was needed to spare the children the pain of dealing with the torn emotions when those sweet young relationships turn sour. There was also an effort made to forbid the parents of school children from divorcing to avoid the same trauma in greater depth, but the parents weren’t typically enrolled in the schools, and as such, the rule would not apply to them.
I supply all the answers, for a handsome fee
Considering the discovery of these frightening elements in so many of our schools, it’s difficult to argue that the face of education and childhood itself must change. Ever vigilant to stay ahead of the curve, I’ve developed my very own curriculum, which I hope to sell to school districts around the world for a tidy sum. I call it Virtual Environment Analytical Learning, or VEAL for short. In this groundbreaking model, students will be kept in small padded cubicles, and exposed to non-offensive, culturally neutral educational materials in small, easy to digest parcels. They’ll then be left unchallenged to ponder what they’ve seen.
There will be no tests or quizzes, to avoid the social stigma of their getting anything but an “A”. In the safety of their individual pods, they’ll be safe from all sorts of dangers, including racquet balls, ping pong balls and being “it”. Further. we will limit all social interaction to quick sidelong glances at classmates as they are
herded guided into their pens cubicles.
My plan to sell administrators on the notion of educating our children as VEAL is fool-proof. First, I’ll need to build a sales force. All I need is a group of bright young people who will work hard and not take “no” for an answer. They’ll need to be persistent and resilient. They’ll need to…oh wait…ah shit…I think I see a problem with my business model.