THE NERF GUN AS A LEARNING TOOL?
Fred de Falbe fires a shot in support of proper uses for the toy gun
MUCH has been written about the unhealthiness of violent computer games, but are toy guns acceptable for children to play with? This question confronted us briefly as parents when our children were small but melted away soon enough; none of them were much interested.
Now, as a head teacher I encounter the debate once again. By allowing or encouraging children to race round carrying something roughly resembling a weapon, are we legitimising conflict and violence?
One of the most popular weekend activities at Beeston is the one dedicated to Nerf wars. Nerf (or NERF) actually stands for ‘non-expanding recreational foam’. There is a dazzling array of Nerf blasters now, mostly in vibrant orange plastic, which fire harmless foam darts with gratifying accuracy. Does this make all the children warmongers?
Let me set the scene. The school sports hall was decked out in objects and obstacles behind which competitors could crouch, or hide, running from place to place. The children organised themselves into teams and discussed battle plans and strategies, gave each other tasks and responsibilities.
There were bangs and crashes from the design and technology workshop as some children made shields, banners and standards for each team. They ‘tooled up’ with outlandish uniforms and camo-cream.
The sense of anticipation was terrific and with a handy smoke machine the atmosphere was both electric and hilarious as the children battled for supremacy.
From my point of view this is learning at its best. However much we might wish it not to be the case, children are so aware of each others’ strengths and weaknesses in the classroom. To enable children to demonstrate their creativity and organisational skill, their negotiating, their tactical and lateral thinking, their energy and teamwork, is exactly what we aim for at Beeston.
This, we know, is real preparation for the future. If foam darts and plastic blasters are the way to do this, then I am in – and this is just weekend relaxation!
At Beeston Hall every day is an Open Day, so come and visit if you cannot wait for the Open Mornings which are taking place on Friday and Saturday March 2 and 3.
Fred de Falbe, headmaster at Beeston Hall School, West Runton beestonhall.co.uk 01263 837324