Schools are now hiring recess consultants to make sure no one gets their feelings hurt and most kids are miserable at recess.
Minneapolis Star Tribune: Two Edina elementary schools, worried about the politics of the playground, are taking an unusual step to police it: They have hired a recess consultant.
Some parents have welcomed the arrival of the firm Playworks, which says recess can be more inclusive and beneficial to children if it’s more structured and if phrases like, “Hey, you’re out!” are replaced with “good job” or “nice try.”
But some of the kids at Concord and Normandale Elementary say they are confused, or that the consultants are ruining their play time.
“The philosophy of Playworks does not fit Concord,” said Kathy Sandven, a parent of twin boys who attend the school. “It is a structured philosophy — an intervention philosophy — not allowing kids for free play.”
The two schools have joined a growing number of districts that have hired consultants to remake the playground experience into more structured and inclusive play time. The games and activities, like four square and jumping rope, are overseen by adults and designed to reduce disciplinary problems while ensuring that no children are left out.
Chris Holden, principal at Normandale Elementary, has seen the Playworks benefits in the first few weeks of school. He’s noticed fewer student visits to the principal’s office and the nurse’s office after recess.
The aim is to build skills that would make kids “incredibly successful adults,” said Shauna McDonald, executive director of Playworks Minnesota. “It’s about creating opportunity.”
Forest Elementary in Robbinsdale Area Schools spends $14,500 for an on-site coordinator to spend one week a month at the school.
At the school, recess is made up of clear adult-facilitated activities.
On a day last week, a kindergartner said he wanted to play basketball. A recess coach explained that wasn’t a choice at the time; he decided to play another game.
“Oh hey kid, you wanna play basketball? Well that’s because you’re a stupid kid who doesn’t know what’s best for you. The adults want you to play soccer, so that’s what you’re gonna play. See, look at my happiness chart. As you can see educational outcomes clearly go up when adults tell you what to play at recess.”
I’ve seen a lot of ridiculous hippie nonsense before, but this one takes the cake. There’s so much wrong with this I don’t know where to start. First of all, this is the most Minnesota thing that has ever happened. Minnesota is like one gigantic Cambridge. Just a cesspool of terrible, terrible hippies and their wacky ideas.
Secondly, I would’ve laughed if they tried implementing this at Tatnuck Magnet Elementary School. We all would’ve. “Oh hey Mr. recess consultant, you want us to put on pinnies and play four square? Nah, we’re gonna play tackle the guy at the top of mulch pit instead.”
Thirdly, the entire premise of this is based around the wussification of America theory. Kids get their feelings hurt and we’re supposed to figure out a way for that to never happen again. As if everyone who grew up getting their feelings hurt at recess turned out to be an epic dooshcanoe. Newsflash – getting your feelings hurt is one of the most vital aspects of growing up. If you get tagged out, then you’re out. It’s not a “good job.” It’s a failure. Your job was not to get hit by the ball, but you were too fat and slow to accomplish that. Next time don’t get hit by the ball and I won’t tell you you’re out.
Fourthly, where do schools find all this money? This sounds like a Mosaic-esque scam, because just like Mosaic these recess consultants are selling schools a product they don’t need for a problem that they don’t have. Just another private corporation (Playworks, Red Tab Consulting) looking at a school and seeing a way to profit off it. Millions of kids have grown up to be normal, functioning adults despite being hit by a dodgeball or getting picked last for two hand touch football. I don’t remember what the name of the game we played was in elementary school, but it involved throwing tennis balls at a wall, and the punishment for losing was standing up against the wall as an older kid brutally punished you with a full speed tennis ball to your backside. And yet somehow we managed to get jobs and start families without the $30,000 wisdom of recess consultants.
Fifthly, isn’t this why we have gym teachers? Everyone knows gym class was just recess except there was a guy in sweatpants with a whistle who could end your game if everyone was acting like an asshole. The teacher dictated what sport would be played that day. But recess is supposed to be free. You experiment with freedom and make choices. The weird kids walk around the track and draw pictures in the dirt. The cool girls sit on the swings and talk about how they can’t wait to get their period. The bad kids have stand next to the teacher on duty. And everyone else runs around in organized chaos. It’s the greatest part of growing up, and now these adults are ruining it.
There is no greater teacher of life lessons than an unregulated recess. If you talk shit to the wrong person, you have to fight. If someone is mean to you, get over it, because they’re gonna be a garbageman when they grow up anyway. You realize that you’re not actually gonna be in the NFL, because there’s so many other kids who are better than you at sports. And most importantly, it taught you how to budget time. Because recess was just a ticking clock until you had to go back into school again and sit down and be still for the rest of the day. Therefore every minute you wasted arguing over who was going to get stuck with the fat kid on their team was a minute you wouldn’t be getting back.
The bottom line is, I’m so glad I grew up in the 90’s and not now. Being a kid in 2015 must suck big ones. Michelle Obama makes you take green beans with your lunch that you immediately throw out, and the rations are small and terrible. Back in the day it was unlimited Rib-a-ques, pancakes, government pizza in a box, and chocolate milk for lunch. And we all loved it. I bet kids don’t even do the parachute in gym class anymore either. Maybe we need the Clintons back in office. Kids were happy when Bill was running the show because unlike Bush and Obama they weren’t constantly trying to fuck with the system and make it better. Just let kids be kids and focus on midnight basketball programs instead.