If kids can tell fantasy from reality …

Preschoolers are good at distinguishing fantasy from reality, according to a new study, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Children understand the difference. They know that their beloved imaginary friend isn’t actually real and that the terrifying monster in their closet doesn’t actually exist (though that makes them no less beloved or scary). But children do spend more time than we do thinking about the world of imagination. They don’t actually confuse the fantasy world with the real one; they just prefer to hang out there.

If little kids can tell what’s real and what’s pretend, why can’t school administrators and teachers distinguish between fantasy and reality, asks Glenn Reynolds, aka Instapundit, in a USA Today column.

At South Eastern Middle School in Fawn Grove, Pa., for example, 10-year-old Johnny Jones was suspended for using an imaginary bow and arrow. That’s right – – not a real bow and arrow, but an imaginary bow and arrow. A female classmate saw this infraction, tattled to a teacher, and the principal gave Jones a one-day suspension for making a “threat” in class.

A 7-year-old Maryland boy was suspended for gnawing a Pop Tart into the shape of a gun. An 8-year-old Arizona boy was threatened with expulsion for his drawings of ninjas and Star Wars characters and interest in zombies. A six-year-old boy was charged with “sexual harassment” for kissing a girl. “So much for Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher,” writes Reynolds, a University of Tennessee law professor.

The “education industry” purports to teach “critical thinking” to children, writes Reynolds. But, apparently, not by example.

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  1. The problem is not one of “imaginary” weapons. Very real threats can be conveyed through allusion and gesture. The problem is with “zero tolerance” polices that allow school administrators to refuse to distinguish actual threats from non-threatening behavior that is suggestive of the use of a weapon.

  2. You know, when I went to look up the kissing issue with the 6 year old, sexual harassment may not have been an appropriate charge, but I really do think he’s been harassing the little girl. He’s been in trouble for kissing her against her will multiple times before and been told to stop.

    If someone were kissing my (hypothetical) daughter and wouldn’t stop when she told him “NO”, I would be down at the school complaining about it too.

  3. Obi-Wandreas says:

    My daughter watched the entire Lord of the Rings Trilogy at the age of 4. On her 3rd birthday, we finally let her watch Revenge of the Sith, and not even the immolation scene bothered her. If she had her druthers, we would be watching “The Avengers” every weekend.

    She couldn’t get through “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”

    In the scene in which Indy & Marion are trapped in the Well of Souls, surrounded by snakes, she got too scared and we had to turn it off. The difference: no CGI. These were real actors surrounded by real snakes, and she knew it was real.

    She knows the difference between imagination, a toy, a tool, and a weapon. The difference is that we are teaching her to use her judgment, not to be afraid of it.

  4. This is a real problem and Reynolds is exactly correct that it shows a lack critical thinking skills on the part of teachers and administrators. When you add to that the war on boys and political correctness, you get a perfect storm.
    Let’s say, for the sake of the argument, that a 6-year-old is continually bothering little girl with unwanted kisses. Surely anyone given the job of teaching kids has enough smarts to handle it himself. Surely we don’t need to criminalize juvenile behavior and start some paper trail that will come back to haunt this child later.
    The part that truly puzzles me is this: Why do parents put up with this nonsense? I don’t mean just the parents of the kids involved. Why don’t all the parents stand up against this stuff?