Friday, September 25, 2015

Mercer Island Brings Back Tag

From KUOW:

The district had decided to ban the perennial favorite game from its playgrounds as part of a "hands-off" policy among children meant to reduce injuries and bullying.
But that announcement brought a deluge of parent complaints and media coverage.

On Friday morning, Superintendent Gary Plano sent out a memo rescinding the policy.

“Tag as we know it and have known it is reinstated,” Plano wrote to parents and staff at Mercer Island Elementary School.

And all is right with the playground world.


Anonymous said...

From the Washington Post:

Guess why this school district wants to get rid of the game of ‘tag’

“The Mercer Island School District and school teams have recently revisited expectations for student behavior to address student safety. This means while at play, especially during recess and unstructured time, students are expected to keep their hands to themselves. The rationale behind this is to ensure the physical and emotional safety of all students."

“School staffs are working with students in the classroom to ensure that there are many alternative games available at recess and during unsupervised play, so that our kids can still have fun, be with their friends, move their bodies and give their brains a break."

The WaPo article now has 161 comments.

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

Tag can easily devolve into aggressive pushing or hitting. Capture the flag and kickball are much better.


Anonymous said...

I will meet your "Capture the flag and kickball" and raise you "Dodge Ball".

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

The political correctness in this metropolitan area totally annoys me sometimes. Were they seeing that kids were being visibly forced to play tag at recess? Cajoled into joining the game and running for their lives? At every elementary school that my kids attended there were always many choices of what to play at recess - including wall ball, playing on the playground equipment (minimal as it was), soccer, collecting chestnuts and even just sitting in the grass and talking or reading.

At some point I believe that we have to allow kids to make decisions for themselves - of course, within limits which I would say a supervised playground is one. We cannot "protect" our kids from the big, bad world forever and at some point they also need to understand that not everywhere in the world is like little insulated Seattle.

-Active Play ok

Melissa Westbrook said...

I'm with Active Play. While there might be other games to play, tag is something all kids can play (as opposed to kickball which I vividly remember from my own childhood).

Part of play IS learning how to be with others. Get too rough; no play. Kids can learn to have fun without hurting each other.

Outsider said...

With this sort of post-modern lunacy, you always need to wonder who was behind it. Was it PC pinheads in the bureaucracy? Or was it actually their lawyers and/or their insurance company? Society is so lawyered-up nowdays, and greedy tort lawyers are always inventing new theories of liability (which their former colleagues now on the bench tend to view sympathetically.) Increasingly, the standard seems to be -- if the deep-pocketed party could conceivably prevented the harm in any possible way, they are liable.

Kids could be cryogenically frozen in September and thawed in June. Therefore, the school district can be held liable for any injury, trauma, microagression or hurt feelings that occur while kids are moving at room temperature.

Anonymous said...

You know what? Tag isn't all that great for some kids.

My kid was aggressively and actively targeted in tag in K by a bully and his buddies. They would surround him and "tag" him multiple times, and when he asked them to stop they would run around him and "tag" him. When he went to the play structure, they would chase him and "tag" him. My kid asked playground monitors to make it stop, asked the teacher supervising, but it was "just tag" and they didn't do anything. He talked with me about it too, and I came early to watch recess and as an adult I alerted the counselor (thankfully it was her one day a week there). It got resolved by the counselor, but since then over six years I've seen a heck of a lot of not very nice tag, tag that gets kids tackled to the ground, tag that broke a friend's kid's arm - I've intervened a few times when I saw a kid saying stop and others kept 'tagging' him. Eh, no tag, no big loss, frankly.


Doug said...

Sorry to hear about your kid, but that is not a game of tag that you are describing. That, in kids' parlance, is called "picking on someone", though perpetrators might call it "tag" to avoid getting in trouble. And of course I understand that your child and you would be concerned about it. But this should be distinguished from tag. Tag games are maybe the oldest kids games in existence and they have clear simple rules. A bunch of kids pestering and poking one kid doesn't fit in any rules of tag that I or my kids have ever played. Certainly, one rule of tag is that if you don't want to play, you don't have to. If one person is ever having problems staying "not involved" in an unwanted free-time recess activity, then he/she should of course do something about it, which might include appealing for adult help. That's true for ANYTHING, not just tag.

But to extend that to argue that whole types of activity--like any game in which people touch--could be banned in recess is a real slippery slope. Tag and other playground games that involve touching are probably an ongoing kid tradition because there are so many good things that kids get out of them, not just exercise. By playing such games, you actually learn to be careful around others and learn your limits, sometimes by exceeding them. We don't want to become a culture of isolated oafs, do we?