Teaching Recess?

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/15/education/15recess.html?ref=education

Has it actually come to this – needing to be taught how to play, relax, unwind, breathe?

My confusion resides in the concept of recess coaching being a distraction from bad behaviors for students who do not even know how to behave in a ‘relax’ situation.  It is almost incomprehensible that any school should have such a behavior problem at recess that a coach is required to refocus the students.

Broadway Elementary brought in Ms. Parker in January out of exasperation with students who, left to their own devices, used to run into one another, squabble over balls and jump-ropes or monopolize the blacktop while exiling their classmates to the sidelines. Since she started, disciplinary referrals at recess have dropped by three-quarters, to an average of three a week. And injuries are no longer a daily occurrence.

Why were the disciplinary referrals, which were occurring, not being handled by having the parents on board?  Why was school management such that money needed to be spent on a behavior management coach?

While I appreciate the niche of some one motivating students to be active during recess (which few schools across the nation even have), it is unreasonable to have some one come in when students are so inappropriate they need discipline.  The larger, crushing problem is children who behave as if they are feral or take on a Lord of the Flies mentality due to coming from dysfunctional environments.

The behavior on the playground at recess is learned and clearly the students have been well educated in anti-social and inappropriate behaviors.  It seems there is a need for  parental coaching, an opportunity for parents to learn how to be adults and demonstrate leadership.  All of us would prefer our tax dollars be spent on the root of the problem, not the offshoot errant branch.  Having a recess coach is akin to people so wealthy they can have a dog and pay some one to play with it at doggy day camp.

Long ago when the original Dear Abby was still alive, she wrote an answer to a question which included a version of the following:

A parent is not made by getting pregnant and giving birth to a child.

The question no longer sticks in my mind, nor is it pertinent.  What is apparent is the need for parenting skill, not recess coaches.  This bespeaks the changes which really must occur in order for education to be successful.

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