Childhood Obesity And The Walking Playground

Chips (BE), French fries (AE), French fried po...

Image via Wikipedia

I am married to a school teacher and am forever amazed at the absurdity that pervades her daily work. I am sure most of us can remember time spent on the school playground. It wasn’t all that long ago that when it came to the playground survival of the fittest was the word of the day. It was a jungle out there and everybody knew their place in the system. Now I am not going to say that everything was sunshine and roses back then, and if you were one of the “weaklings” you know exactly what I mean, but how far the other way are we going to go?

The other day I made a comment to my wife that our current first lady has made childhood obesity her priority. I support her overall cause, but was very disturbed to hear of school systems banning bagged lunches in favor of “healthier” school provided lunches, and efforts to take legal action against restaurant chains that provided a toy with their fattening meals. I asked my wife who spends her entire day in contact with real children what she thought about it. Her simply reply was “why wouldn’t kids be overweight they don’t let them play anymore”. Now I had been aware that our local schools had banned tag and other “chase” games as they singled children out and had damaging effects on self esteem (or so some expert somewhere says), but this seemed a broader statement. “What do you mean they can’t play?” I asked. She replied “We have a walking playground”

I think things have officially gone too far. We cannot protect our kids from everything. Sure when we were young childhood could be pretty brutal. I was both victim and perpetrator in these childhood games, and looking back I think the playground environment we grew up in made us all stronger. We all learned at early ages that not everybody is good at everything, that you will lose, not everybody is going to like you, and most importantly life is not fair. I understand that in the modern era with use of technology what was once relatively harmless teasing can become brutal and relentless attacks that lead children to make horrible and drastic choices, but do we really need to ban tag?

The progressive mindset is often reactionary and in this case, as often happens, they are reacting to a set of circumstances they helped create. In an effort to protect the psyches of our kids the left has isolated them from anything that may hurt them. You can’t play tag because the slow kid is always “it”, you can’t play dodge ball because the kids that can’t catch and throw are always the first to be out. You can’t play on this or that because you might fall and get hurt, and on it goes until you have the walking playground. I am not entirely blaming the left for America’s childhood obesity problem. Most of that blame falls squarely on the shoulders of the parents who let them sit in front of one screen or another only exercising their thumbs, but this mentality that we need to protect our children from ever bump and bruise both physical and mental did start with progressive thinking and has led to a generation of inactive and overweight kids.

Now faced with this population of unhealthy children the left has found a new boogey man… French Fries. The irony here is too thick. The left has brought us both the walking playground and the fight against fattening food. What about personal responsibility? Too much to ask of a kid you say? I don’t disagree, that’s why kids have parents.  Parents are supposed to help kids make healthy choices. There is nothing wrong with fast food once and a while, but if a parent can’t seem to find the time to cook their kid a meal, and takes them to the local fast food chain daily is that the restaurants fault?

The first lady wants to fight childhood obesity and that is a laudable goal, but childhood obesity isn’t the disease it’s a symptom. We have created a society the puts a bubble around our kids. We don’t let them act like kids anymore. Everything has been sugar coated, there is no winning and losing, there is no failure, and there is no pain. Learning to deal with these things is part of learning to be an adult, and the ways we used to teach our kids these traits have all been banned as too dangerous or detrimental to their development. The result is a fat and lazy generation that expects life to be easy, and feels they are entitled rather than learning to work hard and overcome life’s obstacles. It is time to find the happy medium between today’s walking playground and yesterday’s jungle. We need to get our kids up off the couch and experiencing the highs and lows of life. The result will be a happier and healthier generation of American’s.


Classroom Chaos

So happy =)

The behavior problems in modern public school classrooms are stunning. If you are the parent of a school age child it would behoove you to try and find a way to observe your kids classroom. I will almost guarantee you will be shocked at the obstacles to learning placed before your child by their own peers. While not a teacher myself I am married to a third grade teacher, and I have had cause to spend a great deal of time in early elementary classrooms (grade 3 and under). I am continually amazed and the challenges faced by teachers and students alike.

It appears there are two types of parents whose kids seem to contribute to these problems. The first group consists mostly of those with poor parenting skills who are looking to apply some learning disability tag to their kid to explain away the behavior they have created through their own parenting strategies, or lack thereof. Sadly in today’s school systems there is always somebody willing to enable this process and get a kid, who really only needs parents that will provide the consistency and structure they crave, a label that allows for special services and customized education plans. These kids don’t really stand a chance. Their parents have failed to give them the skills they need to cope with life, leading to attention and behavior problems that are more a function of nurture than nature. The school or doctor applies a label allowing the parent to duck taking responsibility for their kid’s problems, and point at the school systems inability to meet their child’s “special needs” to explain their failure.

The second type of parent refuses to accept that their child might actually have a problem. Some kids undoubtedly suffer from legitimate learning disabilities, but have parents who refuse to believe there could be something wrong with their kid. These kids receive only minimal services from the school.  If the parent would acknowledge and deal with the problem they could get their child the help they need and give them a fighting chance at success. Without help the child will continue to fail and become frustrated leading to further acting out in the classroom. Of course the parent who refuses to accept their kid might have a problem can point to the school not “getting” their kid as the reason behind their struggles.

Regardless of the size of your kid’s classroom, or where you are in the country, it is very likely that your child has one or two of each of these kids in their classroom. These kids consume and inordinate amount of the teacher’s time leading to interrupted direct instruction, and creating distractions throughout the day. In the end all the kids suffer by being forced into environments that, despite the teacher’s best efforts, are not conducive to learning. The failures of a handful of parents can lead to a chaotic educational experience for an entire class.

Teachers have a front row seat to the decay of American society and it would be an eye opening and worthwhile experience for most parents to get a taste of the challenges faced by their children and their teachers on a day to day basis. These classrooms are a view into our future as a civilization and the view is scary.