April 2, 2014
The Swanson School in Aukland, New Zealand, just eliminated playground rules. Now, they just let the kids run wild.
Principal Bruce McLachlan said it all started when the school was building some new play structures. But as the constructions sat in the middle of the playground, surrounded by nothing more than “Caution” Tape, Bruce noticed students ducking underneath the tape. They’d grab hunks of wood or metal, and they’d build their own toys. And when they got bored, they’d take ‘em apart and build something else.
So last year, McLachlan informed his staff that they would all just stop saying “No” when they saw a child climbing a tree or a fence, or walking toward an area that used to be off limits. And with one exception, the students weren’t hurting themselves. In fact, since they were active at recess, they’d come back to class ready to learn.
There was one boy who broke his arm. His father went to Principal McLaughlin and told him, “My son broke his arm in the playground, and I just wanted to make sure you don’t change this play environment, because kids break their arms.”
I wonder if the principal ever read Lord of the Flies.