A New Zealand school has tried a brave experiment: Getting rid of playtime rules. The results? Decreased bullying and increased creative play.
Mudslides, skateboarding, bullrush and tree climbing kept the children so occupied the school no longer needed a timeout area or as many teachers on patrol. Instead of a playground, children used their imagination to play in a “loose parts pit” which contained junk such as wood, tyres and an old fire hose.
“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,” Principal Bruce McLachlan said.
Children develop the frontal lobe of their brain when taking risks, meaning they work out consequences. “You can’t teach them that. They have to learn risk on their own terms. It doesn’t develop by watching TV, they have to get out there,” AUT professor of public health Grant Schofield said.
We talk often about how cumbersome rules and bureaucracy trap the potential of employees’ creativity and talent (we even have a study that backs this up). Turns out it is true for children as well. This news-story demonstrate how much of the kids’ humanity was trapped, and even distorted, by excessive regulation. When kids are given freedom from policing and stifling rules, they can use their freedom to express their creativity and imagination, resulting also in less misconduct.