New York Post
Dumbing down of playtime
YOU might call me the world’s worst mom. I mean parent. (Human companion to a growthchallenged being?) I’ll try to watch those genderconforming terms. Forget it. If my daughter earns an A on her report card — yes, she attends a private high school that challenges her selfesteem with letter grades — I do something that selfappointed childrearing gurus have declared unthinkable. I tell her she’s “smart.”
And if my sweet little miss (is the genderneutral term “child” ageist?) makes me proud by killing it in a school project,, I tell her something verboten by the educational ninnies who’ve declared these words offlimits — “Good job!”
But I really fall down on the schoolyard, a minefield of booby traps waiting to dedeprive my kid (yeah, I know she’s not a baby goat) of her allimportant sense off security and selfworth.
If she falls and skins her knee, so what? Shake it off
I and try again, I tell her. If she doesn’t get picked for a sports team, I don’t hollerer or threaten to sue.
And, unlike today’s helicopter parents — one of whom allegedly has gone so far as to physically assault a coach who, he whined, terrorized his university-age progeny by expecting him to compete (Diddy, anyone?) — I refuse to smother the spark out of my girl. So when I learned that the city has spent $425,000 of taxpayer money to hire “recess coaches” to teach schoolchildren to play nice — effectively bullying them into believing that winning is for losers — my blood pressure spiked.
What are they smoking in the city’s Department of Education?
The department scrounged through the dregs of educational lunacy and, in 2011, hired an outfit from — where else? — California, which goes by the name Playworks, a contradiction in terms. Its main goal, it seems, is to prove to children that they’ve been doing recess all wrong for an eternity.
“We’re not teaching them how to play — we’re teaching them how to play respectfully,” Playworks New York’s program manager, Tashan Kilkenny, 25, known by kids as “Coach K,” told The Post.
Here are some rules of the playground, according to Playworks: No children, under any circumstances, are to be declared “out.” They are merely “unsuccessful.’’
In a game of tag, a child need not suffer the physical and psychological indignities of being actually tagged. The kid is gently tickled on the shoulder. (I see sexualabuse lawsuits coming!)
Schoolyard conflicts aren’t solved with fistfights, cursing or tattling to coaches, but with rounds of “rock, paper, scissors.’’
Playworks’ recess coaches now work fulltime in five elementary schools in fashionable neighborhoods of Manhattan and Brooklyn. In a pilot program launched last month, four elementary schools in The Bronx and Brooklyn are to share a single recess coach. I need to lie down. I must really stink at this parent thing. Years before recess coaches started infesting city schools, Columbia University psychology professor Carol Dweck (now at Stanford) and her team came to a kidshattering conclusion. The nutty professor found that telling kids that they’re “smart” makes them more likely to rely on their brains and discourages them from making efforts to perform in class. That finding has gone virtually unchallenged by lazy educational weenies for nearly two decades.
Further research has concluded (how can I get paid for performing stupid studies?) that parents who lavish kids with praise — such as “Good job!” — can turn them into insecure praise junkies, utterly dependent on adults’ approval.
I want my daughter to run, jump and fall without fear of having her shoulder tickled. I reserve the right to call her “smart.” And when she makes a complex Latin assignment look like child’s play, or scores like a winner in a game of field hockey, you’d better believe I ignore the plight of her unsuccessful peers and yell, “Good job!” (Or, “Try again next time,” if she fails.) I’ll continue doing so.
Stop wasting our money on kiddie fads. Let kids be kids.