School Outlaws Cartwheels (via Free-Range Kids)

Monday, August 27th, 2012

Hi! Lenore here from Free-Range Kids. And yes, you read the headline right: A school in Australia has decided that kids can only do cartwheels (and handstands and headstands) if they are  under the direct supervision of a gymnastics teacher, on an appropriately safe surface.

God forbid kids should spontaneously get some exercise — and joy — in their lives. Just think of the lives ruined by cartwheels and you’d understand the school’s concern.

Oh wait… Actually, the principal is NOT concerned about lives being ruined. She’s concerned about following the RULES, as she interprets them, laid out by the Dept of Education over there. According to the Telegraph in Sydney:

A spokesman for the Department of Education and Communities said school playground rules were set at school level, based on Work Health and Safety considerations, the terrain and layout of the school and the level of supervision.

And speaking of terrain: The school in question was recently outfitted with new, soft ground cover to make the playground even more safe. But safe is never safe enough. You knew that. Here is  an ADORABLE RE-ENACTMENT OF THE BAN! 38 seconds of fun! – L.

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14 Responses to “School Outlaws Cartwheels (via Free-Range Kids)”

  1. #1 |  Brad Warbiany | 

    My dear god!

    Just last week when I took my son to soccer practice, one of the other parents had a daughter that was doing cartwheels. In the grass! Without the supervision of a licensed gymnastics coach!

    I’ll have to have a talk with that mother tomorrow at practice… She doesn’t even know what a bullet she dodged*.

    * PS by dodging a bullet I mean that she might have gotten in trouble with an overzealous DCFS busybody, not that her daughter was in danger of serious injury. If we’ve learned anything from Radley Balko, we know that the danger of the cops trying to stop you from engaging in an activity is usually FAR more severe than the natural dangers of said activity.

  2. #2 |  M | 

    That’s even more annoying that the no back dives rule at most pools nowadays. At least my pool can blame their inane insurer.

  3. #3 |  Jet | 

    #2 – Wait, there are pools near you that allow DIVING? Don’t they know how dangerous that is? I’m so thankful that all of the pools near me are diving free zones. I can’t even imagine the mortification a child would suffer after belly-flopping in public.

    /sarc (In case you couldn’t tell)

  4. #4 |  John | 

    Lenore, while I appreciate the work that you do to point out to absurdities that some adults (well intentioned or not) try to impose on other parents or children, aren’t examples like the one referenced above such absurd outliers that the vast majority of sane people see it for? A bureaucrat broadly interpreting a law or rule with ridiculous (intended or not) consequences? If the apparatus of the state was dictating to you no cartwheels at home or at any school I would think the vast majority of us would mock and deride such an intrusive and idiotic dictate and ignore it. As a parent of two very busy, active boys (4 and 7) we give them as much leeway and space as they need and I don’t get a sense I live in a community (Houston, TX in a neighborhood in the shadows of downtown) that’s as paranoid and overly protective as you see. It’s also your gig/blog and I don’t see what you get in your inbox. I guess I am saying I like the theme of your message, I just can’t get behind it entirely because the sense of outrage seems directed too often at the trivial (I could really care less if some moron in AU thinks cartwheels are bad). Maybe I need to read you more.

    Please be kind…but I feel I am asking for it.

  5. #5 |  el coronado | 

    John, I’d say the problem here is less ‘child safety overkill bell curve outliers’ and more ‘stupid ass/CYA bureaucrats & parents do these stupid ass things and we – the common sense folks – allow them to get away with it.’

    The Aussie bureaucrat in question should have been immediately confronted by an angry mob of parents; who then should have made all efforts to initiate proceedings to fire her stupid ass. Just like it should happen here. But in never does…and so they grow ever more emboldened.

  6. #6 |  Adrian Ratnapala | 

    #4. I doubt they are absurd outliers. I was a school kid in Australia, and it seems completely normal to me. I can’t remember anyone doing cartwheels on the school grounds when I was growing up, but I am sure that if such a fad had started, the teachers would have banned it.

    Not that it would have made much difference.

  7. #7 |  Felix | 

    The Daily Fail once had an article (fark is wonderful for pointing them out) on a school in England which canceled its Easter weekend festivities for parents and kindergartners / first graders because the grass field was too lumpy and the precious snowflakes might stumble and hurt themselves while running around.

    I’m certain I have some details wrong, but it was definitely kids of the age who do nothing but run around, fall down, bawl for 30 seconds, get up and run around some more. A quick google didn’t find it.

  8. #8 |  Brad Warbiany | 

    #4 John —

    I look at this as one salvo in a continuing debate over just how safe kids should be. I can tell you that the culture has changed quite a bit from when I was a kid (and I’m just 34)… Kids today are simply not allowed the freedoms that were absolutely *normal* when I grew up. Kids don’t roam their neighborhoods playing with each other. Kids don’t get on their bikes and disappear “until the streetlights come on”. Parents who let their kids do that are looked at like they’re negligent, even by parents who grew up with those very freedoms! And the problem is that without experiencing freedom and the responsibility that comes along with it, kids don’t grow up at all, and then get tossed into the “real world” completely unprepared.

    All these nannies need SOME voice countering them. Is this somewhat of an outlier? Perhaps, but every new regulation like this just tells parents that their kids need to be coddled, and supervised, and that even things like doing cartwheels should be an organized and “coached” event. What used to be called “being a kid” is now “being shuttled in the back of your minivan to a scheduled, regimented, and licensed to a child activity center.” The only thing kids are allowed to do unsupervised is watch TV, and then we wonder why they’re a bunch of porkers.

    Screw it. “Where a kid can be a kid” isn’t Chuck E. Cheese’s place — it’s outside doing cartwheels in the grass with their friends at recess.

  9. #9 |  En Passant | 

    #5 | el coronado wrote August 27th, 2012 at 1:29 pm:

    The Aussie bureaucrat in question should have been immediately confronted by an angry mob of parents; who then should have made all efforts to initiate proceedings to fire her stupid ass. Just like it should happen here. But in never does…and so they grow ever more emboldened.

    Not only do the bureaucrats who first instituted the stupidity locally become emboldened, the practice of instituting absurd rules also tends to spread to more bureaucrats in more locations and more bureaucracies.

    The best and most decisive response is to organize as many locals who object to the absurd local rule, so they march on the bureaucrat in question with torches and pitchforks, and carry away his head on a pike. Figuratively speaking of course.

    Then that message “don’t tread on me” will spread to other bureaucrats and politicians.

  10. #10 |  John | 

    Thanks for the counter arguments and I think what I was getting at isn’t cartwheels. Its more giving the kids freedom to be kids and you know, make mistakes but not be crucified for them. I was thinking more along the lines of the spate of “Zero Tolerance” rules across thousands of school districts that have helped to ruin kids futures because maybe they had a little pot or got into a fight. The restrictive nature of “No Child Left Behind” that handcuffs good schools in teaching the test and doesn’t let the kids learn in a “Free Range” way. Cartwheels aren’t the issue (symptom maybe) but rather broad all encompassing strict doctrine that removes the parent’s choice to parent and the teachers ability to teach, thus, hampering freedom.

  11. #11 |  el coronado | 

    #6 Adrian –

    Srsly? Nobody did cartwheels when you were a schoolkid?? I mean no disrespect, but are you by chance pretty young? When I was in school a million years ago, there wasn’t pretty much ANYthing that involved motion, and creative motion especially, that we didn’t do.

  12. #12 |  Aresen | 

    @ el coronado | August 27th, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    Well, I do remember that the exercise ‘making the two-backed beast’ was banned on the school grounds in my day.


  13. #13 |  Jet | 

    #4 Brad – You are absolutely right in that this kind of ridiculous rule-making is contagious. For instance, reference the story Lenore mentioned on her own blog this evening:

  14. #14 |  Naomi | 

    No problem in my grandson’s school; they abolished PE and recess. They could not talk during lunch, had to wear polo shirts with no logo, tucked in with a belt. He also got suspended in elementary school (3rd grade) for kissing a girl on the playground (probably why they abolished recess). He was “charged” with sexual harassment. He had to ask his mother what sexual harassment was. He also got in-school suspension as he was leaving the school at the end of the day because the back of his shirt was not tucked in. Thank goodness he survived it all; he is 19 now. His saving grace was and still is his sense of humor. He thought it all was hysterically funny (which also landed him in ISS.)