Read here about the loss of commons sense and perspective among schools, administrators, and school boards... Let me rehearse a few of the more egregious lapses of common sense.
- A New Hampshire school district bans dodgeball.
- A Georgia school sends a kindergartener off in handcuffs.
- A Florida high school is shut down when a student brings in a mercury thermometer.
- One school suspended a six-year-old for “pointing his finger like a gun and saying ‘pow,’”
- Another suspended two boys for playing cops and robbers. The list could go on...
I lament the fact that many things that once were the domain of the school principals have become police matters. Instead of dealing with youthful indiscretions as they should, administrators have acted in fear to defer things to police, the law, and the court. It is an abdication of responsibility due to fear of lawsuit and because of the unrealistic expectation all education, learning, and play must be adult supervised and directed.
It has happened because we no longer have any perspective on matters of the safety of our children. We presume that every danger or threat is equal and our response must be equal. The so-called zero tolerance policy used in ours and many school districts effectively casts a blind eye to any difference between legitimate threat and youthful ignorance or indiscretion. A kid with a past full of trouble and a good kid who makes one bad choice are treated exactly the same.
We see boogie men where there are none. At the same time, we fail to see how the loss of childhood innocence, the refusal to allow free play, and the criminalization of all school misbehavior will affect the school and the atmosphere of learning down the road. In doing so, we fail to acknowledge those threats that are real, having spent our whole time turning the school into a grand scheme to neutralize every extreme and create artificial society of political correctness.
The consistent over reaction of so many have cost the schools so much energy, money, and teaching resources that the basic tasks of education have suffered. Our schools and teachers are saddled with the impossible tasks of reforming not only the aberrations and extremes of society but also predicting and preventing every possible thing that could go wrong in a child's life. The breakdown of the family is partially at fault here but so are the unattainable expectations of a people who want to believe that nothing can ever go wrong and if it does it could have been prevented.
Finally, we have chosen to react to these things in this way because it represents a refusal to take responsibility -- not for ourselves or our faults or for the trust placed in us by others. If we have a rule for everything, then none of us are personally responsible or accountable when a broken rule means something happens that someone might not like. Our lack of personal responsibili ty has passed on to our children that no one is really responsible so neither should they learn to accept responsibility for themselves or their choices.
I guess there is only one thing we fear most of all -- a lawsuit. A litigious society has at its root that none of us are responsible for ourselves but that lack of personal responsibility in no means diminishes our ability to find a lawyer and someone to blame and sue for all that can and does go wrong. What a great lesson for our children to learn at a young age!
Of course, this is the convenient deception of original sin... that we are contaminated by things outside and our hearts remain pure, that if all are guilty, none are, that if we can turn it into a disorder we will not have to repent, and it we can make it into someone else's fault or responsibility, we can live in the little cocoon of our raggedy righteousness and feel safe and secure....