I think we can all agree that our schools are way too safe these days. Sure, our sons are coming home with bumps and bruises that they didn’t even know were there. But according to a recent survey in the UK, nearly half of teachers polled say that, in general, we can stand to be a little less safe. So no, it’s not just your child that they don’t like.
I think we can all agree that our schools are way too safe these days.
Actually, the teachers were speaking out in response to a five-page bulletin they received on the dangers of glue sticks. Here’s what some of the teachers had to say about the bulletin:
“Is there going to be a test on this?”
“Why are all the pages stuck together?”
“I couldn’t put it down.”
Of course, we can’t help but wonder: What is there about glue sticks that could possibly fill five whole pages? All I could think of is: 1) Don’t eat it, 2) Don’t stick it to the other kids, and 3) Don’t use it to highlight words in your textbook. What else is there?
Oh, yeah. 4) Don’t use it as a lip balm.
But the teachers were furious. Teachers love asking kids to bring in glue sticks, despite the fact that once you get out of school, you almost never use a glue stick in real life. And actually, come to think of it, I don’t remember actually ever using glue stick in school either. All my memories of glue stick involve twisting the thing at the bottom all the way until all the glue came out of the case and fell over, and then trying to stuff it back in. It never worked after that.
But these glue stick regulations were on top of a whole slew of other safety regulations that teachers have to put up with. For example, some schools are not allowing teachers to kick kids out of class, because unsupervised kids in the hallway are a fire hazard. Like the kids are actually hanging out in the hallway waiting for the principal to notice them, and not in the restroom having water fights. Also, there was one school in the US that briefly banned the use of egg cartons for arts and crafts, because they were afraid that the kids would get salmonella. This one was strongly protested by a number of parents, on the grounds that if the school was so worried about salmonella, why were they still serving lunches?
Not that we’re really surprised by any of these regulations. In general, society as a whole is way more into safety than we were back when I was growing up, in the ‘80s. Back then we sat in car seats until we were maybe three years old, at which point we would graduate to sitting on the actual seat of the car, often with the shoulder strap behind us. Sometimes we would even sit two or three to a seat belt. When I was in fifth grade, we went on a class trip in a small five-seater car, and there were eleven of us in there, not including the driver. But nowadays, kids have to sit in booster seats until they’re twenty-five years old, and the government keeps raising the age. Pretty soon, no one will be allowed to drive, or even sit in the front seat. The whole family will just pile into booster seats in the back and eat Cheerios.
And our schools weren’t much safer back then. In those days, blackboards were black, and you wrote on them with little pieces of chalk, and the teacher was always surrounded by a cloud of dust, and whenever he’d attempt to use a new piece, part of it would snap off and ricochet across the classroom, which I think was why everyone in the front row always wore glasses. And our school nurses back then were not trained in allergies and inoculations, at least that we know of. Basically, she would weigh us once a year, and other than that very few people ever actually went to the nurse, because the rumor was that what she did for every malady, including headaches, was give you a band-aid. If that didn’t work, she’d give you an ice pack, and if that didn’t work, she’d call your parents. It was a very simple healthcare system back then.
And it was a wonder we didn’t end up at the nurse more often, with the playgrounds the way they were. Every playground had something called a see-saw, which we loved to go on despite the fact that they were constantly coming up and hitting people in the chin, and you could only go on them if your friend weighed about the same amount as you did, because otherwise you would spend the entire recess perched 10 feet in the air and screaming at your friend not to get off the see-saw. Also, our slides were about thirty feet high and made of the same material as the outside of a space ship, so you’d basically hit the ground at like 60 miles per hour, and even skid across the concrete for a few feet before you came to a stop.
But as great as those days were, I’m actually surprised at how many dangerous things are still going on in our schools that haven’t been addressed yet. For example, sometimes I’m in middle of teaching (I attempt to teach high school English), and all of a sudden a student’s chair collapses, and the other kids show their sympathy by bursting out laughing and saying things like, “Yeah, I got that chair yesterday.” So maybe kids should wear seatbelts in class. In fact, speaking as a teacher, I think a five-point harness would be even better.
Also, I find that kids are hurting their necks falling asleep on their textbooks. Maybe they wouldn’t have to bend their necks as much if we made the books thicker. And I’m still not sure I understand why school buses don’t need seatbelts.
But not to worry: these things are sure to be addressed in the near future. In the meantime, it turns out that schools are basically one big deathtrap, and if you want to be a good parent, you should let your kids go uneducated rather than send them to school.
Or, alternatively, since it is a place of education, perhaps the school could actually educate the kids on how to keep safe, rather than keeping them away from these things.