I heard some school kids interviewing David Laws the Lib Dems shadow schools minister. He wants to enforce a sit down school lunch with school-provided healthy lunches. One of the interviewers said that he understood the reasoning behind this because people want to eat unhealthy foods because they are tasty then they get obeast [sic] and the NHS has to spend a lot of money fixing their problems. Government indoctrination anybody? David Laws also commented that heads are telling him that as a result of having shorter lunch breaks school children aren’t bullying each other or fighting as much as they used to. School lunch breaks weren’t shortened to reduce bullying: they were reduced so that the school day could be shortened to afford teachers a better balance between work and home life.

(I know this because I got a letter about it from school three years ago and I was a bit miffed. When school ended at 3.15 I could listen to the whole of the afternoon play on Radio 4 and find out how it ended. By trimming 15 minutes from the lunch break and finishing classes at 3pm I never got to hear the end of the play. Petty but true.)

Once might think that this reduction in bad behaviour is a good result. You can imagine the government spinning this into something like this: “Studies have shown that if children are allowed to run wild and free next to each other for an hour a day they are more likely to want to hurt each other.”

Someone might want to dig into this a bit more deeply. What happens to children whilst they are at school which makes them want to bully people or fight with them during their lunch break? Is it the fact that they are pitted against each other in an egalitarian manner through maths, English science, history, art, resistant materials and all other subjects?

Is it that those who ‘fall behind’ need to find a way to get even? Is it the frustration that comes from having all your choices taken away from you and your day planned for you minute by minute? Is is that you can’t go to the toilet when you need to so when you finally get to the toilet you aren’t in a very happy frame of mind?

A friend told me last year that her son was irked that he wasn’t being offer the option of studying resistant materials (woodwork, metalwork and plastics) for GCSE. The school did not have a spare member of staff to be in the classroom with the teacher and they didn’t trust any of the kids in that particular year to be in a room with sharp tools with just one teacher.

I am not saying that any of this excuses bullying but I am asking why schools are trying to solve bullying without looking at how they treat the children in their care. El Famosisimo left school at the end of year 10 heartily sick of being told how to wear his tie and or when to take his coat off and being nagged to tuck his shirt and the inordinate amount of his time this occupied when he would rather have been discussing physics theories or asking questions about maths.

There is something fundamentally wrong with school if more time is spent disciplining and controlling children’s clothing and behaviour than is spent thinking and talking or working on projects.

Today we have

Made lemon curd
Started to add wool hair to a ‘wig’ made from the net the lemons came in
Made two books – one with real words and one with zig zag writing
Watched tv
Played Spyro
The big boys cooked eggs and pasta for themselves and the small girls
Been to gymnastics
Visited a friend who is heartily sick of being pregnant

We have managed not to have any big fights, just a few tiffs so the day was good.

Our family is running wild and free and loving it.


4 Comments to “Playtime”

  1. Sounds lovely!

    My older son’s school has a good long break at lunch time, he phones me sometimes to issue instructions/very polite requests.

    I absolutely love hearing my two chatting together in the long evenings. It can go pear-shaped, but that is pretty rare now the (school-induced) stress levels have gone right down.

  2. I’d really struggle sending my kids to school now. The lists of what to put in lunch boxes, the uniform codes, the sticking name labels in everything. Just couldn’t be doing it. Life is too short.

    Ds2 is doing some sort of fitness badge at cubs at the moment and has to keep a food and exercise diary. It’s already triggering abnormal parental response in me – ‘what you mean you haven’t done any exercise for 3 days??!!’…’No you can’t say you had chocolate spread for breakfast AND lunch, how about we put carrot sticks and humous?’

    No way would we survive school intact. They’d have to expel me for non-compliant parenting.

  3. Hello – hope you trawl back at ‘old’ posts. Due to Big Mamma Frog’s requests about HE bloggers I realised I haven’t really been reading anyone much outside of my usual 2 or 3 so I’ve decided to attack her comment-ers and loved this post.

    I used to say to the aghast-faced ‘but what about?’-ers ‘oh if they want to go to school at a later stage they can – I’m not set on anything’ but this has nowadays changed to ‘I shall never set foot in a school again and if they ever show interest they can organise it themselves and leave me out of it’. The longer ‘out’ I’ve been, the firmer the resolve to avoid it at all costs.

    I feel like I’m actually now a grown-up (stop sniggering) finally listening to the school-aged me – and, although rather late it is rather satisfying!

    • Thanks for coming over here to have a look! I hear you on the resolve not to go back. Unfortunately I have one kid still at school in year 8 and it is getting harder and harder to support anything he does there. I feel mean about it and try not to be too negative but it can be a struggle.

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