May 6, 2012

Children Of The Pod

Never has a little good news been so utterly depressing.

Risk has famously been banned from Canadian school playgrounds, so the Winnipeg playground marked a small victory for the growing movement of educators, parents, designers and physicians who argue that it makes for boring, barren spaces that children just don't want to play on.

This doesn't mean all those merry-go-rounds, jungle gyms and teeter totters are being reinstalled. But a new breed of nature-oriented playground featuring rough materials, including some that offer the opportunity for a fall from some height, are being built with more than just safety in mind. [...]

Their call is boosted by a growing body of research that is discovering the benefits of a little bit of risk in child development...

They needed research for this?

I've just arrived at a numbing realization. These researchers, academics, and career bureaucrats in control of education cannot recall their own childhoods.

The world is not being run by "crazy people", after all.

The world is being run by aliens.

h/t Anthony

Related: Amish farm kids remarkably immune to allergies: study

Posted by Kate at May 6, 2012 12:38 AM

No matter how safe you make things for kids, they will find a way to hurt themselves. I am not suggesting we make playgrounds out of cement or sandboxes out of crushed glass but I'm not suggesting we go overboard, either.

And get the kids off the g-d- computer/i-POD/cell phones that neither keep them safe nor let the parents really know where they are and get them to move about!

Posted by: Osumashi Kinyobe at May 6, 2012 12:23 AM

"A new breed of nature-oriented playground featuring rough materials, including some that offer the opportunity for a fall from some height, are being built…"

In other words, they're granting children access to the world we call…um, the earth.

Kate, I think a lot of these researchers, academics, and career bureaucrats *do* recall their precious childhoods, and they're trying to force other people's kids to grow up the same way. It's hard to imagine that anyone who grew up climbing trees, wrestling, playing king of the hill, etc., would want to forbid their children, or other children, from doing the same.

Posted by: EBD at May 6, 2012 12:39 AM

Reinventing the wheel.

Posted by: Ken (Kulak) at May 6, 2012 12:48 AM

How large was the grant they got to do this?

Posted by: gunney99 at May 6, 2012 1:01 AM

Liberals discover something new called 'common sense'.

Posted by: ron in kelowna ∴ at May 6, 2012 1:14 AM

Could this be the first step towards the return of lawn darts?

Posted by: otterdriver at May 6, 2012 1:34 AM

Oh bloody HORRORS,they know not what they have unleashed. This is a slippery slope to........maybe even skinned knees.

Posted by: Len Pryor at May 6, 2012 2:01 AM

Riding my bike without a helmet, playing tackle football without equipment, sneaking into the public swimming pool at night, hanging out in the woods by a fire drinking blackberry brandy, riding down hills and over jumps on minibikes, sledding down steep hills lined with cars, climbing up trees, walls and on rooftops.

How did I ever survive childhood?

And that was all before I bought a motorcycle, joined the Army, climbed mountains, jumped out of airplanes.

How did I survive to be almost a senior citizen?

Liberals are raising a society of pussies. We might as well move to France.

Posted by: Reginald at May 6, 2012 2:14 AM

Wow, I was talking with my Mom the other day, about how one (of many) of my sisters won't let her children play in the back yard of her suburban Calgary home out of the irrational fear that they will be snatched.
I remember climbing a 50 ft Poplar tree to escape a different (violently abusive) sister when I was 7. I learned very young that bullies are cowards,
These days she's a fully brainwashed leftard with a degree in underwater basket weaving and a second husband.
My point?
Mom just said that she knew I was smart enough to weigh the risks even when I was knee high and that we sadly live in a different era now.

I wrote an essay here a few years back about 2 of my friends and I hiking across the Montana border from Writing on Stone Provincial Park Alberta, being 11 yrs old and how that would never happen in today s helicopter parent era.

Should have saved it.


Posted by: dwright at May 6, 2012 3:11 AM

Lay the blame on ambulance chasing lawyers and pussyfied parents. Frivolous lawsuits against school boards were what started this slide into bubble wrapped security. This "new" concept in playgrounds will only survive until the first kid is hurt and the first lawyer shows the parents the road to riches funded by the taxpayer. We need tort reform, judges with balls and elimination of the CHRC which even sues for hurt feelings before we can return to the days of common sense and the full knowledge that kids growing up will learn from doing something stupid. I think it's already too late as we now live in a country of weenies, whiners and educated wingnuts. There are activists against everything that may bring you pleasure and they want you to STOP it. The battle cry is generally the same, "think of the children" or their standby, "look at what it's costing our healthcare." In 2012 it's a gutsy move letting children enjoy themselves. They could get hurt, like all generations before the nanny state took over. The lawyers are lined up and waiting.

Posted by: peterj at May 6, 2012 3:14 AM

I find today's playgrounds simply just bizarre and of course empty most of the time. I suggest a simply experiment, drop 20 piles of dirt beside a playground and leave it unsupervised for a summer, I will bet it will end up being the coolest playground ever as long as the adults stay the hell away from it.

Posted by: Msttv at May 6, 2012 7:17 AM


That was my thought exactly. Great idea, but it won't survive unless we can put an end to frivalous lawsuits and instill a culture of personal accountability. I remember a family that owned a trampoline going from come on over and play to get your parents to sign this form to sorry we just can't accept the risk. It all stems back to personal accountability.

Posted by: RaughKee at May 6, 2012 7:59 AM

The only people that use the plastic jungle gym the PTA installed in the public school grounds across the street from me are the late-teen summer vagrants and 20-somethings and drug-dealers that tend to congregate on it when the sun goes down in the summer. The kids don't even use it during recess.

Other than the hordes of 7PM soccer barbarians that descend on the grounds in the evenings (yes, barbarians - I'm still reeling from the memory of upscale soccer mommy who was going to leave her infant's dirty diaper in the street rather than have to carry it home in her Lexus, until I reminded her she "forgot " it... euwwww)

The upside is the park is available for me to go play with the variety of sometimes risky toys I still enjoy because no one else is around. The irony of the kids running up and down the roadway past the schoolyard on their skateboards and long boards challenging traffic isn't lost on me. Doesn't help the school board posted prominent "no trespassing" signs.

When you're raised as a metrosexual, gender challenged, beta male and/or female, by a metrosexual, gender challenged, beta male and/or female, its not hard to see how liberals are made.

Kids aren't born sissies, they're made that way. We learn what danger is by experiencing it and feeling the emotion. For many the biggest risk of their childhood is a paper cut.

Posted by: Skip at May 6, 2012 8:00 AM

Our kids wore bumps, scrapes and bruises proudly. We called those 'signs of good times'...they got them because they weren't on the couch watching the boob tube.
Dependence on researchers is a symptom of our nanny-state culture.

Posted by: bluetech at May 6, 2012 8:31 AM

One central symptom of the post-modern disease is to think that your thoughts are so precious they could not possibly have occurred to anyone else. Much of what passes for research in the academy is just this childish. Every so often, someone rediscovers a truth that is obvious to those of us not afflicted with terminal self-centeredness. Its just what one would predict for an infantilized culture.

So, it's not that they can't remember their childhood. It's that they're still in it; permanently.

Posted by: nick at May 6, 2012 8:51 AM

I see the world of "WALL-E" coming to a town near you.

I am so glad my and my girlfriend's children are grown-up already. I see the hell of raising kids today, and I want no part of it.

There was a little demon loose in the restaurant I was at this weekend and the parents just ignored the destruction and racket it was causing.

Posted by: Texas at May 6, 2012 8:51 AM

"Could this be the first step towards the return of lawn darts?
Posted by: otterdriver at May 6, 2012 1:34 AM"

I still have a set stashed. Hid them before the lawn dart registry started!

When I was growing up I was told to be homw before the streetlights came on. It was a new subdivision and the streetlights didn't get installed until I was 14....OOOPS ;-))

Posted by: WTF at May 6, 2012 9:14 AM

"Their call is boosted by a growing body of research that is discovering the benefits of a little bit of risk in child development..."

Let me fix that for them....

Their call is boosted by a growing body of research that is discovering that the last 30 years of everyone wins, bubble wrapped generational experiment has failed miserably....

Posted by: WTF at May 6, 2012 9:44 AM

... being run by weenies... those who were too afraid to climb the jungle gym ... got knocked off the merry-go-round... got beat out in the recess race to the swings ... and got punked on the teeter-totters....could not throw or catch or hit a ball... were bruised when playing tag (and always IT)


Posted by: OMMAG at May 6, 2012 10:00 AM

Your life is run by experts who are expert in nothing but projecting an image of expertise.

Posted by: Occam at May 6, 2012 10:09 AM

peterj nails it @ 3:14. This is exactly why many of the toys were taken out of the Saskatchewan regional parks.

Posted by: Ken (Kulak) at May 6, 2012 10:35 AM

I'd like to be able to take the people who run the schools today back in time to my childhood,in the 1950's,they'd probably all drop dead of apoplexy.

We had NO safety programs,no engineered playground equipment,just swings and teeter-totters,and a vast open countryside full of forest,rivers,lakes and creeks,to explore at will.

We had a hell of a good time climbing trees, making and sailing rafts, swimming, building tree forts, hunting with real guns from age 8,fishing,camping overnight in the bush a few miles from home,without any adults,and just generally being kids.

No one ever got seriously injured,no one ever got eaten by a bear or wolf,and we has SO much fun. Huckleberry Finn had nothing on us!

I feel sorry for the kids today who aren't allowed to be kids anymore,and I have little use for the over protective adults who try to engineer a perfect life for their kids,instead of sometimes just leaving them the hell alone,to be kids.

Posted by: dmorris at May 6, 2012 11:22 AM

'No kid left alone': Hillary Clinton.

Do I have that right?

Posted by: ron in kelowna ∴ at May 6, 2012 11:41 AM


Yeah. I recall back when I was a kid, there was a rabies scare.... my associates and I still haunted the local woodlots, with our very real reproductions of Medieval weaponry.... we had access to scrap metal, a vise and hand tools.

I recall one old boy counseling us to use a thrust rather than a slash in the event of encountering a rabid critter, but he did it sorta casual like...he seemed favour the pole weapons....various vicious looking halberds and spears.

The attitude of the adults, if I recall, was neither encouraging nor discouraging....

Posted by: sasquatch at May 6, 2012 11:47 AM

I live in aridrie and the playgrounds are alway's busy everyday all summer long and yes even sometimes in the winter the kids slide down the slides ..the whole playground is made of steel

This of course is why wild rose MLA rob anderson is our representativei n the fall and get hurt and mom tells them to suck it with in seconds they are back pplaying i see it i hear it ..i live it. i love airdrie young and still free !!!

Posted by: paul in calgary at May 6, 2012 11:53 AM

peterj at May 6, 2012 3:14 AM

Echoing others above, SPLENDID pure-unadulterated TRUTH comment.

Posted by: Me No Dhimmi at May 6, 2012 12:24 PM

Right on Kate!! Excellent comment peterj.

Posted by: TJ at May 6, 2012 1:22 PM

So many good posts above actually took me back to my own childhood and made me realize how deprived urban children are today. I was raised in Yukon and like Sasquatch, had my wooden sword and homemade shield to ward off the inevitable attacks by my buddies while we romped the forests within eyesight of town. Woe to any bear, wolf or alien that might consider us their lunch. Even back then the fat kid in our group knew he was probably toast if we actually had to run for safety so he always had the best weaponry. That progressed to actual 22's as we got older and we brought home rabbits and ptarmigan which we proudly cleaned for our parents and mom would create miracle meals with. By that time the fat kid had a 30/30 just to be on the safe side which he lorded over us although we still believed we could stop any grizzly with our single shot 22. Shots coming from the bush never attracted the attention of the RCMP or anyone else for that matter. Four of uus would walk home carrying our unloaded rifles and daily catch and I still remember our local cop driving by and giving us a friendly wave. We were around 13/14 then. No registrations or government interference, nanny state or social engineers and the odd time we got hurt doing something stupid our parents seemed to know before we even got home and we paid the price. This was in the 60's and the above posts made me realise how life has changed for our young. I still have a treasure trove in memories that were awakened by some of the above posts and I wonder what memories todays kids will carry into the future. Bland playgrounds and electronic games with heavy emphathy on bullying. Sad.

Posted by: peterj at May 6, 2012 1:47 PM

As kids we made swords from survey stakes, helmets from pots & shields from garbage can lids that where metal in those days. Broom handles that where broken became spears. Even the girls played. The horror, the horror. We had snow ball fights. Made rafts for creeks& ponds. Climbed Monkey bars.
All the things the Liberals weep with wailing about today. They of course are doing it for the children.
Projecting their own insecurities on kids, is child abuse.
These people would make life as bland as possible. One law suite at a time. One mental breakdown a day.
That this is even researched, is a clue to how far from Human standard these social engineers have become.

Posted by: Revnant Dream at May 6, 2012 1:53 PM

well, at least we got to GO to school...and play instead of sitting through hours of koran memorization and RPG windage and range tables...

(Pakistan Tribune) — A former lawmaker and cleric from Kohistan district, Maulana Abdul Haleem, termed formal education for women un-Islamic and asked parents to pluck their daughters from school, or else they would be ‘doomed’.

The nonagenarian, who was elected to the National Assembly from Kohistan on the now-defunct Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal’s ticket in 2002, also railed against non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working in the region in his Friday sermon, calling them ‘hubs of immodesty’.

“It’s beghairti (immodesty) to equip girls with secular education,” the cleric said, adding that those Kohistani parents who were sending their girls to schools were acting against ‘Islamic shariah’ and the local customs.

He did not spare female NGO workers either.

“Some women from these NGOs visit our houses frequently, mobilising naïve Kohistani women to follow their agenda in the name of health and hygiene education,” he said, adding that this was ‘unacceptable to Kohistani culture’. He threatened them with ‘dire consequences’, saying that married female NGO workers will be sent back to their husbands, and the unmarried ones will be wedded to Kohistani men.

During his stint as a parliamentarian, Maulana Haleem had also declared poppy cultivation in Kohistan ‘in accordance with Islam'.

...The only responsibility men owe to women is their sustenance, and not education, he said. In return, the women should stay at home and look after their children and family members, he added....

Posted by: Bemused at May 6, 2012 3:42 PM

What Does 'Composite Girl' Tell Us About Obama?

With the help of his muse and co-author, Bill Ayers, Obama wove a series of racial grievances into the narrative to toughen up Obama's life story. These stories aren't "compressed," as Obama claims. They are contrived. In his own memoir, Fugitive Days, Ayers likewise shows a casual disdain for facts. "Is this then the truth?" he asks. "Not exactly. Although it feels entirely honest to me." When lesser memoirists do the same -- James Frey of A Million Little Pieces fame comes quickly to mind -- they get trashed on national TV by Oprah.

Posted by: Revnant Dream at May 6, 2012 4:04 PM

How the hell did I ever survive my childhood?! Never wore a helmet while riding my tricycle or bicycle; played baseball with a real wooden Louisville Slugger bat; when in the Boy Scouts, on camping trips, we all carried pocket knives, sheath knives, hatchets...I supposed nowadays in some jurisdictions of Canada or the US (Nanny Bloomberg's NYC, for one)I'd be an arrested Boy Scout, for "carrying deadly weapons", with my parents arrested on the other "crimes".

Posted by: Dave in Pa at May 6, 2012 4:51 PM

When I was a kid we used to climb trees without safety ropes or helmets. The poorer kids climbed trees made of peanut butter.

Kids today have got it so good,luxury.

Posted by: wallyj at May 6, 2012 5:26 PM

peterj and others. Yes, there were so many fond memories of various ways the local posse had of slaying dragons and other bad guys.

Why, I even remember our trusty collie and I assisting Sgt. Preston and his dog King solving many a crime in the bush on the next quarter.

Posted by: Ken (Kulak) at May 6, 2012 5:33 PM

Peterj - don't forget all the emergency room staff and social workers. Should you have the misfortune to take a child to emergency with - heaven forfend - a broken bone, you would be lucky to be able to leave with said kid; and that would be only after a serious inquisition. The received wisdom when our children were growing up was that any injury HAD to be the fault of the parents, if not caused by them. Rare was the ER worker, when given an explation of just which dumb and forbidden activity had caused the curent injury, would smile and say, yes, (s)he remembered those days when (s)he did dumb things too.

Posted by: Frances at May 6, 2012 7:27 PM

Had the pleasure of walking the back streets (in small town Ont) with friends after school in the fall with dad's nylon 66 over the shoulder and lots of ammo. The adults you seen smiling and saying hello. That was back in the late seventies.

Dad probably built the huge sandbox in the back yard for about 5 bucks and got the sand from an old pit nearby, and it wasn't covered so the cats liked it too.Which always made it interesting usually just before lunch or dinner, and usually you where too damn hungry to wash your hands for long if you even bothered.

Burning hot wheels track always provided entertainment as well, and who could avoid throwing available paints can in a fire. Hell a couple magnifying glasses, some gas and an ant hill or two could occupy a bunch of kids for hours or until one of our moms caught us.

To think we played in fields on the outskirts of town and thru sun harden clumps of dirt at each other until usually the youngest amongst us took one with a hidden rock in the middle of the forehead,or the friend with the worst temper sent the whole group scrambling for their lives, after a getting hit one too many times.

Although not that long ago in the same town a boy chained the well lid to his moms pickup, she stopped half way to town after noticing it zigzagging behind her and the kids grandfather helped load it back in the truck ... so I guess all isn't lost.

Posted by: Mugs at May 6, 2012 9:56 PM

The one caution I'm going to introduce to moderate peoples reminiscences of highly dangerous things they did as kids is the concept of survivorship bias. Those of use who survived our risky childhoods and are still alive to talk about it have a different view of risk. Thus, I wouldn't necessarily recommend doing what I did as a kid but I had a great childhood.

My childhood passion was explosives and this was assumed to be a normal part of childhood growing up in Northern Alberta. Gunpowder was easy to make and many of the gunpowder rockets I made instead blew up. Seismic lines where everywhere and the workers would dump left over dynamite which we'd use to blow up things. As long as one played with explosives in the bush and didn't start any forest fires, no-one really cared.

We didn't have a playground and instead had to amuse ourselves which was easy with hundreds of miles of wilderness in all directions. We got the usual cautions from our parents to watch for cougars and bears and knew not to approach them. I was shooting at age 8 and my uncles means of teaching me gun safety would probably be considered child abuse now but it had the desired effect. We had an overestimation of the power of our .22 rifles but probably would have been able to deal with bears as we were taught to aim for the eyes which, with the very thin orbital bone, would have meant a direct brain shot.

I used to carry a pocket knife, belt knife and hatchet when I was out in the woods and having a rifle in the vehicle was considered as important as a spare tire. My father let me drive the logging roads at age 9. No need for official learners permits or any bureaucratic BS. The same relaxed attitude towards childhood held in the cities as, when we moved to Calgary, we'd sling our rifles over our shoulders and cycle out past the Calgary city limits to shoot gophers.

What I find now is that parents are terrified of what might happen to their kids unless they are supervised every second of the day. Kids aren't allowed to walk to school and instead are dropped off and picked up by their parents. All sports are rigidly organized and supervised unlike the unsupervised trekking through the bush that we used to do. Of course the kids rebel against this over-regulation although a surprising number don't. They're going to be the generation of parents who will be even worse with making sure that their kids face absolutely no risk.

What I find surprising is that the most dangerous activity, motor vehicles, is the least supervised of all childhood activities. Looking back at all of the people I knew who died from various childhood and adolescent indiscretions, the vast majority of them were killed in automobile accidents. There were a few firearms suicides and a few overdoses but automobile accidents account for about 90% of the deaths. Thus, I find it incomprehensible why children are still allowed to drive at age 16. If one wants to really be safe, then the driving age should be set at 35 which is when most people will have fully myelinated their frontal lobe pathways and thus be much less likely to indulge in impulsive actions.

Posted by: Loki at May 7, 2012 1:10 AM

"They needed research for this?"

Nothing is real or true until it has been "discovered" by an expensive government-funded "study".

And what is "true" must change with the winds of fashion, in order to provide and endless stream of funding for useless "research" and worse-than-useless educational policies.

Posted by: pst314 at May 7, 2012 3:37 AM

@ Loki at May 7, 2012 1:10 AM

"then the driving age should be set at 35 which is when most people will have fully myelinated their frontal lobe pathways and thus be much less likely to indulge in impulsive actions."

I know you jest but there is much truth in that.
The downside would spread to all other impulsive activities. We would have no marriages, armed forces, venture capitalists, etc,etc, as they all involve risk. Lack of impulse buying would devastate the economy all by itself. We learn from experience and experience comes from mistakes. As a species we have only survived by learning from our mistakes and adapting. The sooner we learn there is a price to pay for poor judgement the better we are as a whole. Some will always fall by the wayside and although the young are the most vulnurable to dumb decisions, I doubt if social engineering can ever change that. We all must be free to learn from our own mistakes and suffer the consequences and rewards. Which takes us full circle back to the playgrounds. Learn now or learn later. Over protection of the young only deprives them of the ability to recognize hazardous behavior in the future. Perhaps if they suffered a bit more for stupid decisions at the age of 8 , they would be more cautious drivers at 16.

(you played with gunpowder? wow, I would have sold my sister for that).

Posted by: peterj at May 7, 2012 2:37 PM