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Education United States News

Are We Failing To Prepare Children For Leadership In the US? 754

Posted by samzenpus
from the growing-up-fast dept.
Vulcan195 writes "Would you let your three-year-old play with a real saw? You would if you were a parent in Switzerland. Suzanne Lucas (a U.S. mom residing in Switzerland) writes about the contrasts between the U.S. and Swiss ways of instilling wisdom. She writes: 'Every Friday, whether rain, shine, snow, or heat, my three-year-old goes into the forest for four hours with 10 other school children. In addition to playing with saws and files, they roast their own hot dogs over an open fire. If a child drops a hot dog, the teacher picks it up, brushes the dirt off, and hands it back.' She suggests that such kids grow up and lead the ones who were coddled (e.g. U.S. kids) during their early years."
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Are We Failing To Prepare Children For Leadership In the US?

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  • by alphatel (1450715) * on Monday June 25, 2012 @09:19AM (#40438331)
    No American child would be caught dead allowing a Swiss teacher to wipe dirt off their hard-earned American Hot Dogs. Freedom Dogs 4eva!
    • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Monday June 25, 2012 @09:36AM (#40438541) Homepage Journal
      No, they would just run and cry to their obese parents, who would in turn tattle to the principal, who would have the teacher brought up on sexual harassment charges for the suggestive way she brushed the dirt off that phallic foodstuff.
      • by Barefoot Monkey (1657313) on Monday June 25, 2012 @10:00AM (#40438869)

        No, they would just run and cry to their obese parents,

        Running means exercise, which is healthy. US wins another round. Your move, Switzerland.

      • by geekmux (1040042) on Monday June 25, 2012 @10:15AM (#40439065)

        No, they would just run and cry to their obese parents, who would in turn tattle to the principal, who would have the teacher brought up on sexual harassment charges for the suggestive way she brushed the dirt off that phallic foodstuff.

        And yet, it is truly disgusting that so many turn a blind (or ignorant) eye as to the real cause of this exact situation. If we wouldn't allow such nonsense into a courtroom in the first place, then we wouldn't have the joke of a litigation system we have today.

        • by O('_')O_Bush (1162487) on Monday June 25, 2012 @10:44AM (#40439453)
          I am not convinced there is a problem at all. The OP makes the mistake of homogeonizing the U.S., which might work for a small country like hers, but not for us. There is a protectionist culture in the northeast and far west, but no such shared culture in the Deep South or midwest, where many kids get just as much outdoors/rugged experienced as these Swiss kids do.

          Also, I'm not sure why there is such a fascination for Europeans to try to prove why they are better than Americans. The only people listening are those into self-flagellation. Most Americans couldn't give a rat's ass about what other countries think, unless they are an economic or military superpower.
          • by kokako (2499876) on Monday June 25, 2012 @10:52AM (#40439591)
            Actually this article is not about Europeans trying to prove they are better than Americans, its about a self-flaggellating American woman worried about how American boys are turning into technopussies rather than real men who play with knives. It's a different genre, but an easy mistake to make though. Both kinds of story are pretty popular on their respective sides of the Atlantic.
          • by KhabaLox (1906148) on Monday June 25, 2012 @10:53AM (#40439601)

            There is a protectionist culture in the northeast and far west, but no such shared culture in the Deep South or midwest,

            Who's homogenizing now?

          • by jheath314 (916607) on Monday June 25, 2012 @11:37AM (#40440143)

            Too bad the actual data doesn't support what you're saying. From the CDC website: "The South has the highest prevalence of obesity (29.4%) followed by the Midwest (28.7%), Northeast (24.9%) and the West (24.1%)."

            Not that any region in the States should get too smug... the obesity rate in the Switzerland is 8.2%

          • by Rei (128717) on Monday June 25, 2012 @11:46AM (#40440275) Homepage

            There is a protectionist culture in the northeast and far west, but no such shared culture in the Deep South or midwest,

            I grew up in Texas, went to school in Indiana, and lived in Iowa for a decade. I now live in Iceland. The way kids are raised here is nothing like the way kids are raised in the US south or midwest. It's not a "we'll call the kids inside if it starts raining" culture, it's a "we'll call the kids inside if the winds are so strong that they can't stand up anymore" culture. Not an exaggeration, by the way.

            Kids here are given a great deal of freedom. Parents take them everywhere and let them do their own thing. Random example: I was at a party meeting attended by the prime minister, where the speaker was talking about the reduced unemployment rate under Samfylkingin leadership, and there were little kids running around the room playing. But I guess kids here are used to it, because while I see them often, and often doing their own thing, rarely do they come across as disruptive, whether they're at a meeting, in an office, you name it. And people involve them where not inappropriate - for example, if you see a little kid up on stage at a concert with one of their band-member parents, the kid might well end up introducing the next song.

            An example, related to concerts: I was at Iceland's equivalent of Madison Square Garden - Harpa. Up on stage was Kimono, a heavy metal band headed by a transsexual rocker. And in the front row of such a concert? Little kids there with their parents, ages ranging from maybe 2-6. Between songs the lead singer even took the time to explain to the kids the names of the instruments being played. And the best part is, few people here see anything unusual about any aspect of that situation ;) Heck, one school up north held "Skálmöld Day" (Skálmöld being an Icelandic heavy metal band), where all the little kids came dressed in appropriate attire, rocked out to their music during class, etc. The educational theme of the week was violence and lawlessness, so she thought their music would fit perfectly. Of course! :)

            Of course it goes without question that you'd take your kids to Hinsegin Dagur ("Queer Pride", Reykjavík's LGBT pride fest - one of if not the largest annual festivals in the country, attended by 1/3rd of the country's population). What's so weird about that? [jorunn.blog.is]

            It's not all fun and games. For example, kids often start working earlier, too. But in general, they're not sheltered from the world like American kids are, even in the south and midwest. It's a different culture over here.

            And I really like it.

          • by Candyban (723804) on Monday June 25, 2012 @12:56PM (#40441311)
            Probably I'll get flamed for this ... but here goes anyway:

            I'm not sure why there is such a fascination for Europeans to try to prove why they are better than Americans.

            Because most of "us" (Europeans) grew up in a world which was dominated by the US and we did not really mind as we were thought by our fathers and grand-fathers you were benevolent (I am teaching my children something different ...)

            Because most of "us" see (not necessarily watch) movies coming from the US which portrays the US as the land of the "Free" and "Brave" while we know it is not the case and just propaganda for the mindless masses.

            Because most (but not all) of "us" see the state of the US economic capabilities (and in case you are wondering ... yes, US is in worse shape than the EU, even in this euro crisis)

            Although it may sound weird and alien to you, but Europeans do care about what goes on in the world, just like you would (probably) care if your neighbor is doing something that either harms you, the community or himself. And it seems the neighbor thinks he is the best, brightest, richest, friendliest and best looking person around while in fact he is abusive, rude, dangerous, steals and destroys other peoples properties. The only way to let this guy know his behavior is unacceptable is by actually telling him. (supplying proof in some cases as he otherwise just pretends normal conversation is only an opinion)

            Currently America is FAR, FAR AWAY from the utopia your founding fathers had set it out to be ... The current generation is eating up the goodwill and faith, that previous generations have built up, in a record pace and either the American population in general is being kept in the dark or they lack the mentality or intellect to see what is going on.

            Your comment "Most Americans couldn't give a rat's ass" is spot on because most Americans believe they are still the biggest, best, etc, ... which clearly they are no longer (in a lot of areas).

            Don't get me wrong. I do not have anything against Americans (otherwise I would have used it ... jk). But I find it a shame that a once great nation WITH good foundations (equality) has turned from its roots and only acts in its own interest screwing whomever is on or in in their way. Maybe the US once was able to get away with it, but this is becoming less and less the case.

            I am not convinced there is a problem at all.

            When there is only a single "warning light", you might indeed be right that there is no problem at all. But to me there are so many and Americans are constantly trying to convince us it is Christmas all year round

          • by Opportunist (166417) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @02:58AM (#40449837)

            Also, I'm not sure why there is such a fascination for Europeans to try to prove why they are better than Americans. The only people listening are those into self-flagellation. Most Americans couldn't give a rat's ass about what other countries think, unless they are an economic or military superpower.

            I'd guess that has its roots in our history.

            After the WW2, the US were "our friends". No, seriously. We loved that country pretty much as much as you do. The US were the best thing since sliced bread. Goes without saying that it was in the west, after all they "protected us against communism" and all that, but even in the East. The US were THE country. Everything from the US was sacrosanct and good. It was an economic power house, it was the technology leader of the world, it was the pinnacle of freedom and free living.

            No, seriously. We wanted to be just like you.

            That kinda changed, ya know? When I look at the US and what's going on, it seems less and less free as the time progresses, and Europe looks more and more interesting as time passes. We rebuilt, we had our own economic growth, and we're now, economically, on par. Wealth distribution seems also a bit more sensible here. We got to see the incredible poverty in some areas of your country and we compare it to us, and we notice that while yes, you have rich that have no parallel over here, you also have a damn lot of poor people that can only be compared to some areas in, say, Romania or Moldavia. And that's not really something that we'd consider commendable. We tend to put a lot of emphasis on a kind of fairness and equality that differs a lot from yours.

            Then there's that religion thing. Religion tends to have a certain stigma around here, especially the die hard ultra-orthodox kind. We only know that from "bad people". Read, idiots that use religion to cause harm. People who are overly religious (and that means "anything but paying lip service to it") are kinda suspect to us. Not to mention that the mere idea of the struggle between ID and evolution is comical to us altogether. The idea to teach crap like ID like it's some kind of real theory is quite outlandish. And the idea of actually voting for a politician who seriously wants to push that agenda sounds kinda nuts.

            The US were some kind of role model for us during that latter half of the 20th century. That's probably the reason why we look at their actions so closely, and right now I'd guess it's a mix of disappointment and spitefulness.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by rvw (755107)

      Freedom Dogs 4eva!

      Who's this eva that gets all the dogs?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 25, 2012 @10:05AM (#40438939)

      Frankly I find the author quite condescending in the way she compares Swiss children to American children (and I'm Swiss - see where my bias is) but as somebody living in North America, I have to agree with the general point: North American culture is more "protective" of personal comfort and hygiene than most European countries. It's not always a good thing for Swiss culture to be the way it is though. I find that often in Switzerland people are left on their own and can expect zero understanding or accommodations when they have important personal problems. For example, you're very lucky if you suffer from psychological problems (e.g. depression) and your boss gives a shit - most likely he'd tell you to get your shit in order and not let it affect your job or to quit.

      On the upside, people in Switzerland go to school or work if they have a cold or just a headache. You can't call in sick for that. There's also a lot less obsession about avoiding germs, and I think that's why I have a strong immune system and get sick less often than my friends in North America.
      On the downside, I was made to redo an entire year in high school because I suffered from depression and missed a single exam as a result of it. The school even refused to give me a grade of 0 on that exam (I would have still passed with 0!). Forget compassion in Switzerland - that's one of the shortcomings of that culture.

      Overall, Swiss culture produces efficient people who take their responsibilities pretty seriously and who are pretty down to Earth when it comes to the way they look at life. But that culture is also highly elitist and gives up on the weakest members of society very quickly, even when a little help is all that's needed. You're on your own, social support is a luxury even from family and second chances are rare, almost non-existent.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Bigby (659157)

        Sounds like a place I want to live. America used to be that way...several decades ago.

      • by interval1066 (668936) on Monday June 25, 2012 @10:45AM (#40439455) Homepage Journal

        North American culture is more "protective" of personal comfort and hygiene than most European countries.

        You're missing the point a bit, its not a problem with "personal comfort and hygene", nor litigation, its a problem with personal responsibility. The culture is obsessed with finding someone to pin the blame on, rather than instilling any rational sense of personal resposibility for anything. ANYTHING. Nevermind personal responsibility for having caused harm or financial loss. American children are being shown how bad it is for them to raise their hands or ask for ANYTHING, except food. Such people don't make great leaders.

      • by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Monday June 25, 2012 @10:50AM (#40439567)

        On the upside, people in Switzerland go to school or work if they have a cold [...].

        On the upside? When you are sick, stay home. Don't spread your very communicable disease to others. That's as much a problem in the US, btw. Drives me nuts every time I see someone coughing their lungs out at work....

        • by rwv (1636355) on Monday June 25, 2012 @12:28PM (#40440881) Homepage Journal

          The GP makes a point that spreading minor disease builds up a social tolerance of the minor disease. Over time, your body develops natural defenses to things you're constantly exposed to. You pass along that defense to your children.

          And for people suffering from constant headaches... the most common cause of headaches is dehydration. Drink water, get better. Relying on advil or aspirin to numb the pain is counter-productive to the unhealthy eating habit of not getting enough fluids.

      • by Rei (128717) on Monday June 25, 2012 @11:57AM (#40440427) Homepage

        For example, you're very lucky if you suffer from psychological problems (e.g. depression) and your boss gives a shit - most likely he'd tell you to get your shit in order and not let it affect your job or to quit.

        Interesting. Iceland has a lot of the "freedom for children" aspects in Switzerland, but doesn't have that side of the picture, at least in my experience. There's a lot more "banding together". I made the "mistake" of telling one of my coworkers that I had left at meeting at one point so people wouldn't see me cry (I had had a lot of bad stuff happen in a row, the most recent at the time being watching a man nearly die of a heart attack, gasping for breath in front of me in my apartment because he overworked himself helping me move and I didn't know how to call emergency services). My coworker told my boss, who called me into his office, told me I didn't have to stick around that day, but I could if I wanted to be around people, whichever I preferred, and that he'd make sure that the company paid for a psychologist for me to see.

        Is there not much bonding between members of a company, or is it just employees vs. management? Here it's like we're all on one team. The American work culture seems strange to people here where coworkers sometimes undercut each other and often don't do anything with each other when they don't have to. Here the starfsmannafélag pays for "extracurricular" company activities almost every week, whether it's a mountain-climbing expedition, "disco bowling", going to the theater or a play, going out to a nice dinner, etc. Back before the economic crisis, starfsmannafélög would sometimes do things like overseas vacations together.

  • by alexbgreat (1422591) * on Monday June 25, 2012 @09:19AM (#40438335)
    As a general rule....yes.
    • by jellomizer (103300) on Monday June 25, 2012 @10:50AM (#40439565)

      The question is, by teaching kids in essence Camping/Survival Skills, are we really teaching them leadership?

      Yes the Boy Scouts teaches Leadership skills, and the Boy Scouts teaches Camping/Survival Skills, and some of them a joined together... However There is a lot of leadership training outside camping skills, Putting children in positions of authority, being able to give commands and take the consequences of such commands, are important leadership skills... However Camping and Survival Skills, don't really make you a good leader. It just means you can fend for yourself better (This is a good trait, however it doesn't make you a leader, it may just make him a more effective servant.

      Good leaders don't need to be tough, they need to be smart, calculating, thoughtful, and ethical.

      • by zzsmirkzz (974536) on Monday June 25, 2012 @12:18PM (#40440741)

        wever Camping and Survival Skills, don't really make you a good leader. It just means you can fend for yourself better (This is a good trait, however it doesn't make you a leader, it may just make him a more effective servant.

        You miss one key point. Knowing you can fend for yourself without relying on others and being confident in that fact is the first step on the way to becoming a leader. That confidence and self-assuredness is necessary in becoming an authority, necessary to yourself. One who is not confident in himself cannot effectively lead.

      • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Monday June 25, 2012 @12:20PM (#40440767)

        The question is, by teaching kids in essence Camping/Survival Skills, are we really teaching them leadership?

        Perhaps; at the very least, it teaches kids not to be afraid of the unknown, not to be hopelessly dependent on those around them (especially those in authority positions), and so forth.

        Putting children in positions of authority, being able to give commands and take the consequences of such commands, are important leadership skills

        Whereas a typical elementary school student in the US is subjected to the following treatment:

        1. Sit at an assigned desk, arranged in a grid
        2. Boring, repetetive assignments whose completion is a determining factor in their grades and ultimately their ability to advance to the next level of education
        3. Systematic discipline systems in a well-defined power structure
        4. One person who leads many; levels of leadership arranged as a tree
        5. Forms, paperwork, scantrons, and other common bureaucratic designs
        6. Flourescent lighting and uniform floor tiling
        7. Regimented schedules, mandatory evacuation from the building at the end of the school day unless you have a specific, authorized reason to stick around.
        8. Locked doors, locked cabinets, locked desks, chain link fences, bars and grates over the windows, locks and chains over the gates, security cameras around the perimeter of the building
        9. Metal detectors and X-ray scans to enter the school; no expectation of privacy in lockers, desks, or even on a student's person. Contraband items are collected at the door -- cell phones, various tools, etc.
        10. Computers that are programmed to thwart any deviation from the prescribed curriculum. Firewalls and invasions of online privacy, systems that block Tor and proxy servers, etc..
        11. Police officers and guards patrolling the hallways, grounds, etc., looking for students who are not sitting in their assigned desks in their assigned classes (and heaven forbid those students are doing something that was not assigned!).

        How many people could possibly be prepared for leadership of any sort after 13-14 years of such treatment? Yes I know, we had "good reasons" for all of the above, but the result has been that our children are sent to some kind of Orwellian nightmare for many hours each day.

        I cannot speak for other nations, but in America, our schools are in desperate need of positive reform. We need to stop using an authoritarian approach to education, and start creating schools that students want to attend, rather than schools that students flee from.

  • Not very new. (Score:5, Informative)

    by nospam007 (722110) * on Monday June 25, 2012 @09:20AM (#40438345)

    These Forest-Kindergartens are all over Europe.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forest_kindergarten [wikipedia.org]

    Where I work, I can see them going by foot up a mountain to reach the forest. I can imagine their immune-system must beat those of TV-watching coach-potatoes.

    In other news I read that 5 year olds, who did not go to such Kindergartens had to be rescued on a school excursion.
    They weren't able to continue because they had never actually _walked_ a mile in their life, only from the couch to the car and back.

    • Re:Not very new. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by gameres (1050972) on Monday June 25, 2012 @09:28AM (#40438439)
      Not sure about the forest kids, but my daughter did go to a montessori school in germany. she learned which end of a paring knife cuts and how to keep birds and cook breakfast. I was there when "normal" kindergarten teachers came for a demonstration. They were horrified. I do think that schools there prepare their kids better for life in general. I do like the Montessori way of raising kids.
      • Re:Not very new. (Score:4, Interesting)

        by silanea (1241518) on Monday June 25, 2012 @09:58AM (#40438843)
        It depends very much on the individual kindergarten or school. The "Montessori way" is often fundamentally misapplied, resulting in kids that essentially do whatever they want whenever they want in whatever pace they want, which translates to an almost non-existent education. There are a few really good such schools, but I for one would rather not take that chance.
    • by PopeRatzo (965947) on Monday June 25, 2012 @09:31AM (#40438465) Homepage Journal

      Where I work, I can see them going by foot up a mountain to reach the forest. I can imagine their immune-system must beat those of TV-watching coach-potatoes.

      Sure, but what are their Starcraft 2 scores like?

      See, there's always a tradeoff. Good health, strong immune system and lifelong leadership skills vs mad Starcraft 2 skillz.... Which is more important?

      Hold on, I'm still thinking...

      • by dkleinsc (563838)

        If you're really really good at Starcraft, you could end up a pro-gamer in Korea, which would put you in the same ranks in their society as a NFL player is here. Of course, your odds of that are even worse than your average high school player becoming an NFL star.

        The other counterargument, as described by a college friend of mine: "2000 hit points, and no life".

    • What I am honestly baffled about is why one would draw the connection between this forest-kindergarden stuff and 'leadership'...

      Is playing outdoors and getting fresh air and exercise likely healthful and salubrious and whatnot? Sure. Is parental paranoia about sharp objects and fire ridiculously over the top? Sure. But 'leadership'? Where is the connection, especially with a 1-10 teacher-student ratio? At least on your basic 30-40 to 1 field trip, there are decent odds that you'll manage to get lost and
    • by ohnocitizen (1951674) on Monday June 25, 2012 @10:28AM (#40439245)
      For the kids who survive the forest, they grow up to make fine leaders.
    • Re:Not very new. (Score:5, Informative)

      by BigT (70780) on Monday June 25, 2012 @10:30AM (#40439271)

      In other places, they have forest kindergartens, in the US, the lawsuit-driven regulations prevent trees, streams and cats at schools. http://freerangekids.wordpress.com/2011/02/12/school-inspectors-say-trees-too-dangerous/ [wordpress.com]

      There's a segment of Americans that want to live in a perferctly clean, safe bubble. The lawsuits they file against anybody and everbody when the world doesn't meet their expectations bring about regulations keep the rest of us from having the choice to be dirty and unsafe. The laws have changed significantly even since I was a kid. According to conventional wisdom, I should have never survived childhood.

      • Re:Not very new. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Larryish (1215510) <larryish@gmail.cDEGASom minus painter> on Monday June 25, 2012 @11:17AM (#40439905)

        When I was in high school in the late 80's (very rural area, graduating class less than 40) we could bring in our rifles and shotguns to woodshop and rework the stocks. We even got graded on it.

        The only caveat was that they had to be unloaded and checked by the shop teacher.

        Now you can get in trouble for even bringing a gun magazine into that same school.

        In 30 years, "American" will be synonymous with "retard".

      • Re:Not very new. (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) on Monday June 25, 2012 @11:34AM (#40440107) Homepage
        Well this weekend I got a visit from the local police (my dickhead neighbor called the cops on me again) because I was supposedly endangering my oldest child (almost 4 now). The grievous offense was that he was out there with me and I was running the chain saw and using a wedge and sledge hammer to cut up and split some trees from around the neighborhood that had fell and turn them into fire wood. My oldest wanted to use the chain saw so with a lot of my help he learned but still can't operate it on his own, but does know how to use the bow saw. It is also funny to see him try and use my 20lbs sledge as he might as well be holding just the head as he is so choked up on it, but he really wants to try and help. He also understand firearms and what they are capable of doing as he has see me take care of the rabbits in the garden with the air rifle and is learning how to handle it correctly. When he gets bigger and is actually capable of holding it correctly I will be teaching him how to shoot with it and then moving up to a real firearm once he has mastered the air rifle.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 25, 2012 @09:27AM (#40438411)

    Step 1: Have a Rich Family

    Not sure what the other steps are...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 25, 2012 @09:29AM (#40438443)

    Most people say there are two certainties in life. Death and taxes.

    I'd like to add a third to the list: Mothers thinking their way of raising their kids is better than x, bragging about it and if allowed to will continue to write about it in a blog, on Facebook or in a magazine in excruciating (to the rest of us) detail.

    Nothing new here, just a new fad 'that's better because...' and the reasoning is usually just thinly disguised as because "I'm doing it"

  • Gap (Score:5, Funny)

    by decipher_saint (72686) on Monday June 25, 2012 @09:33AM (#40438483) Homepage

    Gentlemen, it pains me to tell you this but, we have a lumberjack gap.

  • by Picass0 (147474) on Monday June 25, 2012 @09:33AM (#40438489) Homepage Journal

    They teach crafts, hard work and leadership. The problem is Boy Scouts has become stigmatized, lampooned, and in recent years depicted as homophobic. Girl Scouts spends too much time focused on selling cookies.

    Public schools wouldn't put a saw or hammer in a child's hand. It would take five minutes for an upset parent or a lawyer to show up. You can thank our overly litigious society for closing doors on an idea like this. And as a parent, I can tell you I'd need a high level of trust in the instructor before I let them take my kids alone into the woods.

    • by PPH (736903) on Monday June 25, 2012 @09:39AM (#40438563)

      Public schools wouldn't put a saw or hammer in a child's hand. It would take five minutes for an upset parent or a lawyer to show up. You can thank our overly litigious society for closing doors on an idea like this.

      Football (the US variety, that is).

      We don't seem to have a problem sending them out onto the field to risk suffering head injuries that will leave them a bunch of drooling idiots .....

      .... so I guess we are preparing our next generation of leaders.

      • by Capt James McCarthy (860294) on Monday June 25, 2012 @09:56AM (#40438811) Journal

        There is physical risk in every sport. Don't drink the press koolaid. There are more injuries in cheer-leading then in football*. Organized school sports provide plenty of opportunity to learn and sharpen leadership/organizational skills.

        * http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cheerleading#Dangers_of_cheerleading [wikipedia.org]

        "Out of the United States' 2.9 million female high school athletes, only 3% are cheerleaders, yet cheerleading accounts for 65% of all catastrophic injuries in girls' high school athletics. Since the NCAA has yet to recognize cheerleading as an official college sport, there are no solid numbers on college cheerleading, yet when it comes to injuries, 67% of female athlete injuries at the college level are due to cheerleading mishaps.[citation needed] LiveScience.com recaps new evidence showing that the most dangerous sport for high school and college females is cheerleading: Another study found that between 1982 and 2007, there were 103 fatal, disabling or serious injuries recorded among female high school athletes, with the vast majority (67) occurring in cheerleading."

    • by jedidiah (1196) on Monday June 25, 2012 @09:39AM (#40438565) Homepage

      Is that the Boy Scouts you are referring to?

      Are you kidding? They are a pale shallow immitation of what they were 30 years ago. If anything they are a great example of what the original article was talking about.

      The Scouts have similar failings as the public schools you're whining about.

      • by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Monday June 25, 2012 @10:40AM (#40439385)

        Is that the Boy Scouts you are referring to?

        Are you kidding? They are a pale shallow immitation of what they were 30 years ago.

        I was a scout 40 years ago. My son is a cub scout today. It seems about the same to me.

        His den went camping last month. I noticed all the scouts looking into a bucket, so I went over to see what they had. They had caught a rattlesnake (western diamondback to be specific). I think that trumps some Swiss kids playing with a saw.

    • by Lurker2288 (995635) on Monday June 25, 2012 @09:53AM (#40438737)

      Maybe the Boy Scouts have been depicted as homophobic because of the way they throw out gay Scoutmasters.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by h4rr4r (612664)

        Don't forget the gay kids they toss out or that they ban atheists.

        The troop I attended as a kid was no place for a non-protestant child. Just being a catholic made it clear I was not really part of the group. The high school atheist me was glad to get out of that mess.

        • by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Monday June 25, 2012 @10:55AM (#40439619)
          They used to have a Christians-only policy - non-christians were considered inherently immoral and so not qualified for membership. Exactly what 'christian' meant was a subject of some dispute. They did, after great pressure, change their policy to 'believers only' - they'll accept any religion, so long as it's a religion. Atheists are still banned. I eagerly await the day when the discrimination is acknowledged and the BSA is finally forced to reform or collapse, but right now they are still seen as a 'great American institution' and grand tradition to such an extent they they often receive government support or outright handouts of tax money.
    • by jittles (1613415) on Monday June 25, 2012 @09:57AM (#40438821)

      And as a parent, I can tell you I'd need a high level of trust in the instructor before I let them take my kids alone into the woods.

      Relax. I take a group of kids up to Camp Crystal Lake every year, where we play with chainsaws, large knives, and hockey masks.... nothing bad ever happens in the woods...

    • by hey! (33014) on Monday June 25, 2012 @10:48AM (#40439525) Homepage Journal

      Scouts and regular education have become a lot more alike over the last several decades. In school kids go to "environment camps" and there's much more hands on education (e.g. designing and building bridges to learn about engineering)

      Scouts have made rank advancement (something which didn't exist in Baden-Powell's method) ever more elaborate and challenging, and focused more on citizenship and explicit moral lessons. The original Eagle Scout requirements were twenty-one merit badges. Later requirements focused on woodcraft and personal self-sufficiency. Currently six of the twelve required merit badges for Eagle rank are focused on social adjustment: Citizenship in the Community, Citizenship in the Nation, Citizenship in the World, Communication, Personal Management, and Family Life. Since the 1970s scouts have to pass both a one on one review of personal morality with an adult leader and a community board of review,

      So what happened? Well, it turns out a youth program like scouting fits well with the Mormon Church's missionary training. That's true of other churches, but the Mormons took to scouting in an organized way. Consequently scouting in the USA has evolved to meet the needs of it's largest and most organized bloc, and in some cases even serving the church's ideological ends (e.g. rejecting the Unitarian religious emblem badge on doctrinal grounds and barring Wiccans from membership entirely).

      So in effect Scouting in the USA is a program geared toward developing leaders consistent with Mormon views of leadership. Non-Mormon sponsoring organizations and troops just live with this, quietly ignoring bans on homosexuals, agnostics, and pagans, and sucking up Mormon oriented advancement requirements. This has spawned a "Traditional Scouting" movement, which is much more focused on scoutcraft and self-sufficiency and less on indoctrination.

  • totally backwards (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hort_wort (1401963) on Monday June 25, 2012 @09:33AM (#40438491)

    We don't want our young cattle to grow into leadership roles, are you nuts!? Here, we make a point to keep kids docile with a mix of fluoride and Prozac.

  • Answer: (Score:5, Informative)

    by PPH (736903) on Monday June 25, 2012 @09:33AM (#40438493)

    No. [wikipedia.org]

  • by Darth Snowshoe (1434515) on Monday June 25, 2012 @09:35AM (#40438495)

    I'm sorry, this is just too much. Every week there's at least a couple of these what's-wrong-with-American-education stories. It's always that Americans are doing it wrong, somewhere else is doing it better.

    It's entirely reasonable to survey the different approaches to teaching and try to select the best for your own kids/schools/country. But the underlying nationalistic streak in all these articles, and the bogus tone of imminent disaster, is just baiting. And you're going to provide a big fat forum for the libertarians and plutorepublicans to grind away at "why don't we totally defund public education, it's clearly not working". Someone will misquote ol' Thom Jefferson.

    God, I would like to be able to differentiate this week from the one that came before. Why is this what Slashdot has become? How is this "news for nerds"? This looks much more like "bait for hot-headed middle-aged guys".

    • by Loughla (2531696) on Monday June 25, 2012 @09:55AM (#40438779)

      to grind away at "why don't we totally defund public education, it's clearly not working".

      I was finishing my masters degree with this conversation started, in earnest, on the national level. I thought to myself, "Well, it can't be that bad, there's just a few wingnuts that believe that."

      Flash forward - now when you read the news, watch television, or do anything except talk to a teacher, you hear about how piss-poor the US educational system is. My opinion is that private enterprise has already sucked up as much money as it can from the larger portions of government money (energy, food, transportation, communications and banking), so they have set their sights on their latest cash-cow to bleed out (see shock-economics and its impact on South America for examples of what they really want to do - we just have controls in place to stop that scale of greed, so they settle for playing by the legal rules). What's the best way to do that? Swing public opinion using news outlets, and let the masses cut their own throats.

      I, for one, welcome our new upper-upper-upper class overlords, and am excited to see the new and fascinating changes that will take place for people living in poverty! We won't have to worry about 'class warfare', because we simply won't learn about that option. If you want to go full-blown tin-foil hat, consider this: We are already accused of indoctrinating our children to the 'myth of US superiority' on a regular basis. What if that changes to 'the myth of the superiority of rich folks'? Pair that with the recent articles about genetic research and altering genes to make perfect babies, and what do we get? Two, distinct types of humans - the ruling elite and the working monsters.

      Oh, man, I'm going to be a kick-ass Morlock.

      As a side note - I don't believe that it will go that far, but I firmly believe that this type of story is part of a conscious, concerted effort to dismantle public education.

      • by swb (14022) on Monday June 25, 2012 @11:20AM (#40439937)

        Public education has been a big target since the early part of the 1920s when Progressive reformers realized it was the perfect tool for turning dirty immigrants into model citizens. Of course, prior to that it was something to occupy kids in the winter when there was little farm work to do until they were old enough to work full time, at about the 9th grade.

        Catholics never trusted it -- they were often the dirty immigrants targeted -- which is why there is such a huge Catholic school system in the US, which is becoming kind of the discount private school system in many areas as public schools disintegrate and desperate parishes de-emphasize religious education and chase fallen/non-Catholic money to keep their schools and parishes from becoming ghost towns.

        Since the 1920s, though, the public education system has been repeatedly targeted by political activists. Option 1 was always get your propaganda to be the curriculum -- hence the emphasis on anti-communism and values in the 1950s and early sixties.

        In the mid-late 1960s, the emphasis changed to the war on poverty and schools became both educational institutions and social welfare delivery systems (free lunches, immunization clinics, etc). In the 1970s it was desegregation as the mission --- we were going to fix race by putting the kids together.

        In the early 70s, though, there were a glut of new teachers thanks to the baby boom and draft deferments for college students studying education. This basically was the liberal/academic colonization of education where you get all kinds of weird curriculum and a relentless focus on the "education gap", which I find to be like the emperor's new clothes -- a failure to realize that minority kids do badly in school not because we aren't teaching them right, but because they come from a failed social milieu. But accepting that means being racist and giving up your cultural relativism.

    • by gallondr00nk (868673) on Monday June 25, 2012 @10:19AM (#40439125)

      Why is this what Slashdot has become? How is this "news for nerds"? This looks much more like "bait for hot-headed middle-aged guys".

      Exactly.

      As much as reactionaries like to think it, there's nothing inherently worse about the younger generation, or our kids. Tromping through the woods doesn't make you a better person. It certainly doesn't make you a leader.

    • by hackula (2596247) on Monday June 25, 2012 @11:12AM (#40439843)

      If we are to preserve this Union of States, then I entreat you to never endure this beautiful land of Majesty becoming enslaved under the yoke of public education, fiat money, or Mooslims. In God we trust; may we also have a nativity scene on the sacred Christian ground of the White House Lawn, in July on the fourth day, which will henceforth be the National day of Rememberence of the Sacrafice of The Lord Of The United States, Yahweh, who died for all of America's brilliance, and rose again to grant us Prosperity and Unlimitted Wishes. On the 8th day, Jesus "Patriot" Christ founded the Liberterian party, of which I am a devout follower, for as Jesus "Patriot" Christ foretold, yee know not the hour nor the day when the Ron Paul shall cometh, but yee musteth be vigellente and strike down the Federalist Reserve all the same. Thus sayeth Jesus "Patriot" Christ, Amen, may the middle east sink into the sands of hell, Amen.

      -- Thomas Jefferson, immediately after signing the Constitution of the Christian Libertarian States of America

  • by gweihir (88907) on Monday June 25, 2012 @09:35AM (#40438501)

    Well, what you Americans do looks very much like organized child abuse to the rest of the world. Not letting children make essential experiences results in stunted development, and there are not many worse things you can do to a child. Even if you think you are protecting them, what you really do is setting them up to fail more drastically later, when they are less resilient and learning is harder for them.

    • by operagost (62405) on Monday June 25, 2012 @10:02AM (#40438903) Homepage Journal
      What's funny is that in America, we did things in a drastically different way just thirty years ago. Kids rode all over creation on their bikes, slapping together junk in the woods to build forts, shooting BB guns and .22s, and getting a lot of poison ivy and sunburn. Except for the poison ivy and sunburn, it was play that prepared for a future of work, productivity, and accomplishment. The "think of the children" types are thinking of themselves, not of the children!
      • by Loughla (2531696) on Monday June 25, 2012 @10:09AM (#40438989)
        What always gets me are that the people who spout that 'think of the children' stuff are, generally, well-meaning, successful folks. Why are they successful? Because they did all of the dangerous stuff they preach against, and had a bad time. They hold onto the bad memories, and just flat out ignore the fact that all those broken arms, bb-gun battles and random kid adventures are the things that turned them into who they are.
  • Leadership? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sir_Eptishous (873977) on Monday June 25, 2012 @09:38AM (#40438549) Homepage
    As far as the "pussification of the American Male" that George Carlin warned about it is a resounding yes. I don't have kids, but I have friends and relatives that do. And boyo, can I tell you how different it is.

    Go ahead and hang out on my lawn while I rant...
    Yes, in junior high I WALKED to school, which was over a mile away.
    Yes, we had fireworks "wars" with bottle rockets, firecrackers and roman candles every summer.
    Yes, PE in junior and senior high school was brutal, competitive and compulsory. The coaches and upper classmen were pricks, thats just how it was.
    Yes, my parents usually had no idea where we were after school, or especially in the summer. Back then, parents weren't fixated/paranoid on children like they are now.
    Yes, we played dodgeball in school and it was fierce.
    Yes, there was hazing, bullies, fights, etc; same shit as now, only there wasn't a "national debate" about it.

    Leadership however is a different animal.
    • Re:Leadership? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by meta-monkey (321000) on Monday June 25, 2012 @10:29AM (#40439259) Journal
      They're building a new school down the street from my house. I keep hearing parents talk excitedly because it's going to have all kinds of great features, like video surveillance over the entire grounds, and every kid will have a keycard that grants him access only to the areas he's supposed to be in, and can track his movements. I'm happy for the boost to my property values, and I'm glad I'll be moving before my kid would have to start school there.

      It's just creepy that the first thing they want to teach these kids is that it's perfectly natural for "the authorities" to track them and watch and record their every move. That's not really a good way to teach kids how to live in a free and independent society.
  • by j00r0m4nc3r (959816) on Monday June 25, 2012 @09:38AM (#40438557)
    i wonder if in switzerland the media also tries to apply overly broad generalizations and stereotypes to an entire population
  • by Max Romantschuk (132276) <max@romantschuk.fi> on Monday June 25, 2012 @09:41AM (#40438579) Homepage

    The description of the Swiss mentality sounds quite normal to me as a Finn. Is the US really as bad as the article implies?

    If so, what happened? Is it the insane damages you can sue for in the US that caused a climate of fear?

    My kids have played with hammers saws and knives too, obviously being guided how to use those tools first. Just today my 5-year-old son was chopping carrots while we were preparing food. Had to stop him once when his big brother went WOW in front of the TV and he was about to run and check with the blade pointing in front of him. Now he probably remembers to put down the knife the next time. :)

    • by BigSlowTarget (325940) on Monday June 25, 2012 @10:26AM (#40439207) Journal

      Realistically its a side effect of the work culture and the family moving from stay at home mom to dual income. Latchkey kids became common and parents slowly realized that their jobs didn't allow them to pay the same level of attention to their kids that their parents paid to them. They were ashamed and felt a need to prove that they do care about their kids, even if they don't have time to spend with them. That leads to overprotectiveness as a proof method and the precious little snowflake situation. Add that kid success is also used as a societal status claim for the parents, that our politicians have figured out that fear is a vote getter and so push the danger of crime, that we have an overabundance of lawyers and that we have a serious dislike of someone being treated better if they haven't been seen to earn/deserve it and this is the result you naturally get.

    • Parents are too busy working multiple minimum wage jobs, or tons of unpaid overtime at their job, to be home spending time with their children. Children simply do not have enough adults in their life. Children spend most of their time in a classroom with 29 of their same-aged peers, and a single adult instructor who is forced to march them around like soldiers just to keep order.

      I think it's more of an economic problem; the social problem is a symptom.

  • by cvtan (752695) on Monday June 25, 2012 @09:42AM (#40438593)
    But playing with my files? Not on your life! What if there is a tax audit? I could be in big trouble.
  • Only safe choices? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jcdick1 (254644) on Monday June 25, 2012 @09:45AM (#40438623)

    I don't think its really an administrative decision to protect children and provide only safe choices that prevent an education like this. Its the need to protect the schools, the businesses and any other organizations involved from lawsuits. Here in the U.S., the insurance premiums necessary for any group that would allow a 3 yr old to even approach - let alone use - a functional cutting blade bigger than "safety scissors" would be astronomical.

    Its like the need for all that squishy rubber surface on playgrounds these days. It isn't there to keep kids from breaking limbs falling off equipment because breaking limbs is a bad thing. Its to minimize exposure to litigation if they do.

  • Yes. Yes I would (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Inda (580031) <slash.20.inda@spamgourmet.com> on Monday June 25, 2012 @09:47AM (#40438639) Journal
    I remember playing with some twist drill bits as a very young child. I was poking them into holes my father had already drilled; all good fun. When he offered me the cordless drill, complete with keyless chuck, all my birthdays came at once.

    Even my own daughter has proper toys to play with. The medical certificated stethoscope we bought her was actually cheaper on Ebay than the toy version in Toys-R-Us. The magnifying glass she treasures will be awesome when she discovers the sun and it's fire-starting magic. muhahaha.

    Children: They'll only cut their fingers off once.
  • by realsilly (186931) on Monday June 25, 2012 @09:48AM (#40438653)

    I grew up in a different time, a time when children of all ages had expectation of behavior and responsibility handed to them at a very early age, and since I've become an adult I've watched the population coddle children more and more. I remember my uncle literally bubble wrapping the edges of tables and furniture so his little girl would not take a bump to the head. I mean really, he bubble wrapped shit.

    If children don't learn right away how to protect themselves they do become rather weak, and the miss very important lessons. Gone are the days when a child could take a BB gun and shoot cans in the back yard. Gone are the days when children knew not to touch a hot stove because they've already learned that lesson. Gone are the days when children would be given homework in public schools an were expected to do more than 5 mins of homework a day. Gone are the days when we expected children to learn a subject well enough that they could write an essay about their knowledge.

    Our children are poor in math, poor in reading, poor in data retention, poor in knowing right from wrong. Our children don't know common sense, how can they when an education system has a zero tolerance foundation. What happened to having the ability to stand up for ones convictions and not being suspended or expelled for it.

    We American adults only have ourselves to blame. We've coddled the world. But this stems back to our litigious society. We put warning labels on the most ridiculous thing because some child received a Darwin award for drowning in a bucket, or some lady wins 8 million dollars because McDonald's didn't put a warning label on the coffee cup "Caution contents are very hot". We sue if someone wrongs us, even if we failed to read directions, or to use some sound judgment.

    I'm not saying all litigation is wrong, just the frivolous ones. I'm not saying some safeguards are needed, but "coffee is hot" is a bit too much. I'm not saying that all kids won't struggle to learn, most will, and it's those struggles (which sometimes end with injury or death) that we learn from the most.

    Allow violence on TV. Allow kids to be kids. Stop bubble wrapping our next generations.

  • by PHCOSci (1771552) on Monday June 25, 2012 @09:50AM (#40438699)
    I'm not sure why "forest school" needs to exist. It shouldn't be the duty of any government funded agency to do this sort of thing. Take your kids camping. Teach them this stuff yourself. Just because the Swedes have these programs does not mean Americans don't also instruct their children this way.

    Before I was 10 I'd taken a lawn mower apart and reassembled it, made furniture, could identify all the varieties of hardwood in the northeast, and fired a longbow. That was thanks to my Dad. Not my school teacher. I think that's appropriate!
  • by PerfectionLost (1004287) <ben@perfectresol ... minus herbivore> on Monday June 25, 2012 @09:54AM (#40438765)

    I find the concept that handling saws, and roasting hotdogs prepares children for leadership positions ridiculous. Every child that roasts a hot dog will become a world class leader? Ridiculous. Now, if you want to say group activities will allow a couple kids out of the group to develop leadership skills that I would believe. But really, when my siblings gather in a pack of 5-6, unsupervised in my parents back yard I'd argue that they are developing more leadership skills then some Swiss tikes that have an adult supervisor just about any day.

    Leave children zoning out solo on the TV, reading books, tinkering with a computer, or tweaking lawn mower and they are not developing leadership skills. Not everyone needs to be a leader though.

  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Monday June 25, 2012 @10:02AM (#40438899) Homepage

    Rich kids are definitely trained and prepared for leadership. Somebody like, say, George W Bush was born into wealth, went through the best schools we could come up with, was taught all sorts of skills that would help them run businesses or gain political office, put through a top university, typically followed by business school, and then starts their career near the top of the heap.

    Upper-middle class kids go through lower-tier private schools or good public school systems. They are frequently taught leadership through opportunities like running school extracurriculars. They come out of their educational career with the skills they need to start in a white-collar position and work their way into middle management.

    Lower-middle class kids go through pretty good public school systems, and learn what they'd need to know to get into college and have a good shot a white-collar job.

    Poor kids, on the other hand, are taught to go along with things as best they can. They are given lousy schooling, and it's clear throughout the process that the best they should hope for is to manage the fast food restaurant rather than work for the boss.

    There are exceptions to these rules, but they are definitely exceptions. There's some mobility: A bright poor person can work towards a white-collar career, and a real dullard may turn out a failure, but right now the primary determining factor of a kid's economic and educational achievements is the achievements of their parents.

  • Leadership? PFFT!! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Neublek (2669941) on Monday June 25, 2012 @10:04AM (#40438925) Homepage
    Leadership is a 20th century concept. Raise your kids to be engaged, informed, and independent so they can participate effectively in decentralized groups.
  • Yes (Score:5, Funny)

    by Sinister Stairs (25573) on Monday June 25, 2012 @10:14AM (#40439051)

    My wife is a grade school teacher and sees the results of this coddling. In just one example, she played a math game with her class and gave the winner a small prize. Most of the kids had a lot of fun and learned something too; but what took her by surprise is that some of the kids began crying. She asked them why, and [paraphrased] it was because they'd been raised with the belief that "everyone's a winner." They had never "lost" before, and it was devastating to them / they didn't know how to respond.

  • by sl4shd0rk (755837) on Monday June 25, 2012 @10:26AM (#40439211)

    If you grew up on a US farm as a kid, you got plenty of chances to handle equipment with a high potential for death or dismemberment. A 3yr old out by the wood pile with a bow saw is not that hard to imagine. Playing in the woods was pretty common too (if you had time to goof off). Not so sure there's all that much of it around anymore though. The MegaCorp Farms pretty much put the kibosh on all that 20-some years ago.

  • Every Generation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by asylumx (881307) on Monday June 25, 2012 @10:28AM (#40439247)
    Doesn't every generation talk about how the next generation has it so much easier than the last? Does this kind of talk really get us anywhere? Feel free to do an actual scientific study, rather than just saying "such kids grow up and lead the ones who were coddled (e.g. US kids) during their early years."

    There is way too much speculation in the world today. Back in my day, we did experiments and only told the truth! Damn kids, get off my lawn!
  • by Z00L00K (682162) on Monday June 25, 2012 @10:45AM (#40439467) Homepage

    By the following statement: "Do not handicap your children by making their lives easy."

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