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New Zealand Schools Find Less Structure Improves Children's Behavior 127

First time accepted submitter geminidomino writes "A research project involving eight schools in Dunedin and Auckland report that loosening rules on the playground may lead to fewer incidents of bullying, vandalism, and injury. One principal opines, 'The kids were motivated, busy and engaged. In my experience, the time children get into trouble is when they are not busy, motivated and engaged. It's during that time they bully other kids, graffiti or wreck things around the school.' As one might expect, the article states that there was a lot of resistance to the project, and I'm kind of surprised they got as many administrators to sign on as they did. The story may be premature, as the article states that 'the results of the study will be collated this year,' but it may be interesting to see how the numbers shake out."
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New Zealand Schools Find Less Structure Improves Children's Behavior

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  • by i kan reed ( 749298 ) on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @01:04PM (#46091745) Homepage Journal

    There were two references to things that could be called "toys" in the article, and neither is a resounding support of what you just said.

    "junk such as wood, tyres and an old fire hose."
    Such amazing new toys there. WOOD! TIRES! whoooooooooooooa.
    Skateboarding allowed(as opposed to skateboards provided, I guess). Which is a change in rules, not supplies.

  • by AthanasiusKircher ( 1333179 ) on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @01:09PM (#46091787)

    Rules against harmful behavior are good, because they limit harmful behavior. Rules about how to play add stress, anger, and rebelliousness. This isn't especially complicated, and the headline makes perfect sense.

    It may make sense, but it's not related to the story. Really, read it; they gave the kids better toys, and the kids were more entertained.

    Actually, since I read TFA, I can say that it *IS* related to the story. They didn't just give the kids "better toys" -- they let them do things they weren't allowed to do before, like climb trees and play "bullrush" (basically a kind of fast-paced tag). I don't think they installed the trees there just for the kids to climb -- instead, the implication is that previously it was disallowed.

    In other words, they used to have more rules prohibiting various games and activities on the playground. They got rid of many of those rules. They also happened to give them a few other "toys" as you put it, some of which were not the fancy "approved" safe toys for playgrounds or whatever.

    But they also got rid of a number of restrictive rules, according to the article I read anyway. (Obviously, I don't think they got rid of the "no bullying" rule -- it's just that when kids have more things to do, they are less likely to find it necessary to get "in trouble" just to have something to do.)

  • by AthanasiusKircher ( 1333179 ) on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @01:50PM (#46092155)

    There are no lawsuits for personal injury in New Zealand.

    Yes -- you're right. I forgot about that quirk in tort law there.

    One of the benefits of a really good nationalized health care system.

    Umm, not really. Have a look here [] for some historical perspective:

    New Zealand's compensation system arose not in response to concerns about medical malpractice but through farsighted workers' compensation reforms. A Royal Commission, established in 1967, concluded that accident victims needed a secure source of financial support when deprived of their capacity to work.

    Until 1992, when medical terminology in the act was clarified so it was clear that medical accidents were covered, claims for medical injuries were very few. (The article I linked notes that, historically, only 0.05% of claims for personal injury were related to health care on average.)

    So, no -- this "benefit" came out of a desire to provide compensation to people who were the victims of accidents in general, and particularly out of compensation for workers. (I have nothing against nationalized health care, by the way -- and I think it can be a very good idea. But it is not the reason why personal injury torts are prohibited.)

  • by 0123456 ( 636235 ) on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @02:08PM (#46092353)

    One of the best toys we had as kids was a huge cardboard box. On different days it would be a castle, or a spaceship, or an Moon base, or a cave, or... heck knows what.

    Kids are quite happy to use their imagination, so long as they haven't had it beaten out of them by 'structure'.

With all the fancy scientists in the world, why can't they just once build a nuclear balm?