No playing at primary school

A Catholic primary school in Melbourne, Australia has banned playing before school starts, reports Gnu Hunter.

In a bid to get students to calm down as they enter the classroom, St Mary’s Primary School, in Williamstown, is prohibiting children from playing ball games, running around, or using the adventure playground before the school day begins.

Until the ban, students could enter the school yard 20 minutes before school starts to burn off some excess energy. Now they just sit on the asphalt and wait for the bell.

St. Mary’s acting principal Lorraine Buntz declined to talk to The Age yesterday, but in a statement issued through the Catholic Education Office, defended the changes. She said they were designed to keep students safe in the playground before classes started and to create a calm environment in which children could begin their day.

Calm or comatose?

Update: Gnu Hunter reports that the acting principal who banned playing has resigned under pressure from parents.

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  1. I’ll bet on comatose……Wouldn’t want them to be active and alert……

  2. And in a related story…

  3. Steve LaBonne says:

    Why don’t they just eliminate those pesky kids from the school altogether, then the grownups could have a nice quiet day…

  4. As the mother of three young children, I think this is totally wrong (especially where little boys are concerned). If they are full of energy, it is my experience that you aren’t going to get them to concentrate as well on school work until they release some of that energy in physical play.

  5. When I was in elementary school in the 1970’s, the procedure was that we got off the bus and marched straight into the gym, where we all sat against the walls until the bell rang for us to go to class. The principal or some other faculty would hang out in the center of the gym to keep an eye on us. We were not allowed to talk (except furtively as we could manage it), although there was much non-verbal communication and displaying of toys and other newly-acquired goodies.

    One of the common pastimes was to take a quarter and slide it real fast across the gym floor when the principal’s back was turned. Hopefully it would be sent back by someone on the other side, but that didn’t always happen. 🙂

    I never viewed this as repressive or unkind. It was a form of discipline, of teaching kids to behave in school while inside the building. It did, in fact, help to calm and orient us to be ready to learn.

    Personally I see nothing wrong with this practice. It may actually be a good idea.

  6. Tim from Texas says:

    I must say I agree with cj. Children need to play and be active. They also need to learn when to stop and get to work at school, at home or elsewhere. But, to have them sit quietly,during those times they are not in the classroom, just so the teachers and other staff can stand around, chat and pass along gossip at the expense of the children is just mean and lazy.

    Adults, I might add, aren’t really good at being quiet and orderly when it isn’t necessary or until “the bell rings” so to speak. As a matter of fact, adults would practically riot if they had to wait absolutely still and quiet until let into some activity or event or ,yes, even a learning situation or siminar or “ahem” teacher inservice or meeting.

    Children can and will learn to get quiet and remain quiet and get to the task,when necessary, if we as adults demand it of them and ourselves.
    The chidren must be taught and shown the social benefits of it. This takes hard work,and sometimes ,unpleasant situations arise, but it is no excuse for corralling them up like cattle for the adults’ conveniences. Those adults who can’t tolerate the noises and virtual chaos that occur when children are active and playful shouldn’t be in the business of caring for children.

    Of course, there are those “darlings” that don’t seem to get it and continue to behave absolutely inaproprietly, and even worse. Those children need to be singled out and given some “remedial” lessons, counseling and help. Their parents need to be advised that such behavior,if continued, will not be tolerated.

    Too many times in our schools,or to be more precise, most of the time, all the children are punished for what a small number have done.

    Just as an aside here, I would like to say that our schools wouldn’t and shoudn’t look like prisons. Yes, not all schools look like prisons, but most do. The next time you drive by a middle-school or high-school, take a long good look at it. Many grade schools do also, however, not as many-but we’re working on it. If we as adults would get with our children and socialize with them-that is talk to them, be with them and treat them as human beings and build schools that are pleasant to look at, pleasant to attend, with windows for sunlight etc. it would go a long way toward making them civil.

  7. Rita C. says:

    They need a transition ritual to help the children move from playtime to schooltime. Pretty basic stuff.

  8. Tim from Texas says:

    Yes, Rita, very well put, and I wholeheartly agree. Chidren love ritual.

  9. When I went to grade school, the transition ritual was to line up by class, then walk/march out to our assigned assembly areas on the school grounds and line up around the flag pole. Then we recited the pledge of allegiance, and the principal made announcements (we didn’t have an intercom; besides, announcements were really directed t the teachers anyway).

    Of course, since many schools aren’t allowed to say the pledge of allegiance any more…