The popularity of ditch the rules

February 2nd, 2014 at 7:40 am by David Farrar

Marika Hill at SST reports:

An Auckland principal who bravely ditched the playground rulebook has been overwhelmed by the positive international response to his story.

The phone has been buzzing with calls and interview requests from around the world for Swanson Primary School principal Bruce McLachlan.

“It’s been a busy week, I didn’t expect it. It’s the reaction against the cotton-woolling of kids, helicopter parenting and nanny states.”

The Sunday Star-Times last week reported on the huge success the university experiment had on children’s behaviour – a drop in bullying, serious injuries and vandalism – after the school let children do what they liked.

Rather than misbehaving, the children were burning all their energy climbing trees, riding skateboards and playing bullrush.

The story was shared more than 90,000 times on Facebook and the principal has been interviewed by 14 international media organisations. Another 30 principals have also contacted McLachlan.

90,000 shares is massive.

“What’s really surprised me is there has been no disagreement. There isn’t a naysayer among them.”

The school decided to let children test themselves in the playground, whether that be falling off a scooter or being hit by a ball, in a bid to teach them about risk taking.

May it catch on.

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32 Responses to “The popularity of ditch the rules”

  1. igm (1,413 comments) says:

    Hopefully we will again see winners and losers, not participants. Charter schools will, hopefully, be the turning point to rid us of these pathetic unionised deviants who have infiltrated the education system.

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  2. flipper (3,928 comments) says:

    No disrespect to Swanson, but the school is NOT THE FIRST.

    Hereworth, the Havelock North prep school has been doing this for yonks. And they take the outdoors experience somewhat further, all with excellent results. From time to time horrified media actually write a feature on Hereworth, but no one took any notice because it is a “private” school.

    One hopes the Hereworth/Swanson move will be followed by other schools But they will earn the ire of ERO.

    Swanson has had a less than enthusiastic ERO response, according to the Headmaster.

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  3. CHFR (226 comments) says:

    Makara Model School in Wellington has no rules in the playground either.

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  4. Pete George (23,421 comments) says:

    There’s been a University of Otago two year study in Dunedin that appears to have found similar results – the obvious.

    They even let the kids play outside when it’s wet and raining. Kids used to do that going too and from school but many don’t get that chance now because of the prevalence of automobubbles.

    Letting kids play like kids

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  5. calendar girl (1,213 comments) says:

    A tiny chink in the armour of nanny state?

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  6. Pete George (23,421 comments) says:

    A tiny chink in the armour of nanny state?

    It could be, or it could be shortlived. Greens seem to want to build nanny schools.

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  7. freedom101 (491 comments) says:

    Now repeal the cycle helmet law. A German student staying with us was fined $150 cycling at 10km/h on a quiet residential street without a helmet. He couldn’t understand it as in Germany only cycle racers wear a helmet, as in the Netherlands.

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  8. Bullitt (138 comments) says:

    Helmet rules are a totally separate argument to playground rules. If a 10 year old falls out of a tree they might brake their arm but they will recover. If a 30 year old falls off a bike at 30kmh without a helmet and hits their head (which in my experience is pretty much every time) they will suffer life threatening (or at least changing) injuries. Sure at 10kmh the results might be different but it would be pretty tricky to enforce a rule that says you only have to wear a helmet if you’re going more than jogging pace.

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  9. Pete George (23,421 comments) says:

    The first major opinion poll of the election year will be out on Sunday, and it suggests the 2014 general election will be one of the most closely fought in New Zealand history.

    Political Editor Patrick Gower says it reveals “a truly fascinating political situation.”

    “We have never recorded a result like this before. But it still reflects an entirely possible election night result.

    “This poll will shock some of our politicians. This will really shake things up as we start election year.”

    That seems a bit contradictory. If the poll suggests a very closely fought election it wouldn’t be a surprise, that’s expected.

    Small parties bounce around so shouldn’t be shocked.

    If it’s tight National must still have a decent dollop of support.

    The only shocking result I can think of is that Greens have taken a big chunk of Labour’s support.

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  10. Pete George (23,421 comments) says:

    Whoops, wrong thread.

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  11. Kea (11,878 comments) says:

    Helmet rules are a totally separate argument to playground rules.

    Bullitt, your view is based on emotion, as was the helmet law. It was a disgusting piece of nanny-state law based on fuzzy “think of the children” appeals to emotion. Anyway, it was always legal to wear a cycle helmet and for parents to compel their kids to wear one. So the only purpose of the law is to force your view on others.

    What evidence is there that cycle helmets reduce serious injury?
    These sources show no improvement in serious injury trends as helmet use has become more common. Indeed, sometimes they suggest that the number or severity of injuries has increased.
    http://cyclehelmets.org/1013.html

    No evidence cycle helmet laws reduce head injuries, study finds

    Read more: http://www.ctvnews.ca/health/health-headlines/no-evidence-cycle-helmet-laws-reduce-head-injuries-study-finds-1.1281887#ixzz2s6X2RUMn

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  12. Colville (2,239 comments) says:

    Kea

    As long as my taxes pay for hospitals and ACC I will support the helmet law.

    My Missus was run over by a motorboke (motorbike went thru a red light) about 25 years ago pre helmet law, a big star shaped fracture behind her ear , you know that part of your head a helmet covers up nicely?

    So now she has no sense of smell and wears hearing aids and probably cost the taxpayer a quater million dollars in care.

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  13. Kea (11,878 comments) says:

    Colville, my view is supported by studies and evidence. Yours is not, which is why all you offered was an unfortunate story to appeal to emotion. Your reasoning is also flawed. It can be used to justify any intrusion into our lives by the state on the basis it is “for our own good”. If that were valid reasoning then Rugby would be banned outright.

    The great news about my way is you do not have to change your views. You can wear a helmet and wrap you and your loved ones in cotton wool. I don’t care and have no desire to force my view on you using the armed state.

    All I ask is you extend the same consideration to others and leave the rest of alone !

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  14. Viking2 (11,339 comments) says:

    Maybe we can get rid of the fire cracker law as well. Oh and the law that prevents hundreds of thousands of Kiwi’s enjoying their favourite past time.

    I refer of course the use of that herbal plant cannabis. Decriminalize it and Legislate its production and sale. just like we do tobacco and a zillion other things.. Get rid of gang funds, stop beating up normal ordinary tax paying citizens and stop sending people to jail for an activity that like sex has been around for centuries

    Time for a change in all these things.

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  15. freedom101 (491 comments) says:

    Far more and serious head injuries are caused to drivers and passengers in car accidents, so if you were really focused on safety instead of nanny-statism, targeting small minority, you would force people to wear crash helmets when driving or traveling in cars.

    That the existence of compulsory ACC can be used as a reason to take away the liberty of riding a bicycle without a helmet shows how insidious the socialist creep has become in NZ. ACC is not voluntary, so you are then pulled into a vortex of regulations covering all aspects of your life. While we are at it, let’s ban rugby and snow boarding – both are far more dangerous than cycling! There is actually no limit to the arguments that can be put up for state regulation and intervention in our private business.

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  16. PaulL (6,015 comments) says:

    I am strongly supportive of giving kids less coddling. Having said that, this story is a bit of a media construction. I don’t really think that the study in question is large enough or robust enough to be as conclusive as the media is making out. Mostly it just comes down to a lot of people liking the sound of this, so they’re talking about it. I get that, I also like the sound of it. But for the schools, the first time a kid is seriously injured doing something that other schools ban, they’re going to get sued. And then they’ll go back to doing the same as other schools. The problem here is that in theory people like their kids (and other people’s kids) to be given freedom, but in practice when something happens to their kid they want to know who’s to blame.

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  17. Brian Smaller (4,037 comments) says:

    Any reduction in head injuries after the introduction of compulsory helmet laws was directly proportional to the reduction in numbers of people cycling.

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  18. MH (696 comments) says:

    probably one can extrapolate some sort of sensible data on the amount of cyclists who had head injuries prior to the introduction of the law on wearing helmets and compare that with the increase in numbers of cyclists now. I’d say 50% of cyclists don’t wear helmets based on casual observation at traffic lights etc. Our older roads are not designed for cyclists,are steep c.f. Holland,Germany? Until we stop discriminating against vehicle drivers and make cyclists pay the same penalties for not having correctly set up bikes,high vis gear,abiding by the road code,carrying drivers licence or appropriate ID, then the cavalier attitude of cyclists will continue and so will their accident rates and burden on the health services. Instead of having amnesty road speeds how about a blitz on errant cyclists for 3 months and get some good revenue to offset the cost of separate cycle lanes. Any stats on accidents caused by cyclists attacking pedestrians on footpaths?

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  19. MT_Tinman (3,092 comments) says:

    Bullitt, half of NZ’s problems stem from the fact that we have too many old farts.

    I’ll bet each and every one of those old farts rode bicycles without helmets when they were young. Most, if not all of them would have fallen off those bicycles at least once.

    We still have too many old farts.

    You’re talking utter fucking rubbish! Badly spelt rubbish at that.

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  20. Kea (11,878 comments) says:

    Any reduction in head injuries after the introduction of compulsory helmet laws was directly proportional to the reduction in numbers of people cycling.

    I have never ridden a push bike since.

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  21. freedom101 (491 comments) says:

    Yes, the compulsory helmet law has reduced the number of people cycling casually. There is evidence that the reduced activity levels has impacted more negatively on general health than the extra protection afforded by helmets. There’s also evidence that helmets can cause injuries that would not be suffered if you weren’t wearing one and further evidence that drivers drive more closely and faster to cyclists wearing helmets than if they are not.

    People should be allowed to assume and manage their own risks, as they do when playing rugby, mountain climbing, snow boarding and even drinking and sun bathing. Eventually creeping regulation and ‘nanny knows best’ will invade these examples.

    We need an MP to introduce a members bill to repeal the helmet law.

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  22. nasska (11,085 comments) says:

    It basically only took the efforts of one overwrought woman to get the legislation making the wearing of cycle helmets compulsory. Her collateral accomplishments included….

    1) Making cycle stands at schools unnecessary.

    2) Ensuring chaos outside schools at 9am & 3pm as mad mothers triple park while dropping off & picking up their delicate loinfruit.

    3) A couple of generations of kids with perfectly intact skulls but so fat from lack of exercise that they will probably predecease their parents.

    Ref: http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/4031829/Aarons-tragedy-spurred-Helmet-Ladys-crusade

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  23. freedom101 (491 comments) says:

    Nasska – Interesting that this silly erosion of our freedoms was passed by a National government. I hadn’t realised that and had assumed it was Labour.

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  24. nasska (11,085 comments) says:

    freedom101

    Goes to show that we can all make mistakes but the time is well overdue for some common sense to be used & have the responsibility & choice put back where it belongs.

    With the parents.

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  25. Steve (North Shore) (4,538 comments) says:

    Like to see those kids in 25 years time compared to the rest of the PC protected.
    I know one thing, they will not be snivelling wimps

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  26. wreck1080 (3,862 comments) says:

    regarding helmets while cycling — i’m in 2 minds on that one.

    How about making children wear them, but, letting adults decide for themselves. Seems a fair compromise to me.

    Personally, I’d probably still keep wearing one when riding with the kids but I might sneak down to the beach/dairy on occasion without wearing one myself.

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  27. Nookin (3,257 comments) says:

    I was driving up the west coast today and was coming around a right hand bend to see a cyclist approaching me –well on her side of the road. A following vehicle then decided the bend was an opportune place to overtake. Fortunately the cyclist was quick on her breaks and a left swerve. The car didn’t miss a beat and disappeared in the distance. A helmet would not have achieved a great deal. A head-on at +100 tends to make a helmet irrelevant. I am hoping to read the the offending vehicle went into a river somewhere.

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  28. Pete George (23,421 comments) says:

    The cyclist I hit (open road, he turned in front of me) may well have been saved by his helmet. He was knocked unconscious but was released from hospital later in the day.

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  29. RRM (9,767 comments) says:

    Yes 90,000 likes on Facebook is a lot.

    When my wife was a 6yo girl, her little friend fell off the monkey bars at their primary school and died.

    But it’s amazing how influential BS on the internet is..

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  30. Tauhei Notts (1,677 comments) says:

    I was brought up in a country town and rode bicycles from age 6 to 18, as did so many other children at the schools I went to. That was 47 years ago. Plenty of skinned knees, but never any head damage as I remember.
    I donned a helmet last Christmas as I rode a bike to the dairy to buy the morning paper and engage in interesting chat over coffee with others doing the same. The thing I noticed was that the helmet hindered my peripheral vision.
    I think that helmets should be compulsory in cities and on roads with a speed limit in excess of 60 km per hour.
    You don’t need a helmet in the back streets of Piopio!

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  31. freedom101 (491 comments) says:

    Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just make up our own minds as to when and where we chose to use a bike helmet. This would also release the police to work on real crime. When they are harassing cyclists they are not solving burglaries etc. They must hate having to enforce this law.

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  32. freedom101 (491 comments) says:

    Just so happens that the NZ Herald is carrying a story today with academic research showing that rugby is 35x more dangerous than cycling – http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11195752 .

    To quote: “Medical student Michael Chieng, supervised by Professor Alistair Woodward, concluded a two-hour bike ride was about six times safer than horse-riding, 15 times safer than a day’s skiing and 35 times safer than a game of rugby.”

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