Generations of Americans learned the three R’s in the classroom, while the fourth R—recess—was a stage for life lessons and conflict resolution.
But traditional recess—where kids run around and play kickball, soccer, tag and other games of physical contact—is increasingly being banned across the country by school officials, and not for reasons of injury or litigation. The period of child’s play, they say, has become too competitive and too ego-bruising.
A school in Santa Monica, CA, is among those that now ban tag, with this explanation: "In this game, there is a ‘victim’ or ‘it’, which creates a self-esteem issue."
A Connecticut principal has gone even further, banning any activity where feelings might get bruised along with knees, claiming recess is out of sync with the “educational and moral instruction” provided by the rest of the school day.
Critics of the crackdown—noting that even squirrels play chase—say turning recess into a conflict-free zone is irresponsible and will produce a generation of kids lacking critical skills, ultimately affecting global security. "How can America expect to compete in a global economy," asked one critic, "when the future of America doesn’t know what competition is?"
Tell us what you think. By mandating that recess be a kinder and gentler place, are we overprotecting kids and depriving them of vital skills best honed on the playground? How did recess become so irresponsible?