TIME magazine recently reported that public schools are finding yet another excuse to curtail children’s freedom of expression: An obsession with Silly Bandz (Banning the Bandz, June 14, 2010)!
I am convinced that public school administrators and many teachers invest energy in seeking out and extinguishing nearly any semblance of fun, enjoyment, comfort and pleasure that children are able to sneak into the monotonous and joyless school day. If the children are becoming lively, excited and interested in something or otherwise distracted from the tedium of the school day, you can be sure that if the school didn’t sanction it, it’ll be found out and prohibited. Rather than abolish practices that are actually harmful and traumatizing to children, such as corporal punishment, standardized testing, psychiatric drugging, developmentally inappropriate teaching methods and the practices of rationing toilet use and restricting physical activity and play, public schools would rather ban harmless novelties… such as rubber bracelets…
If this seems like a harmless, fleeting reaction by schools, reflect back on the multiple times over the past 30 years that schools have banned various crazes: Pokemon cards, Bakugan, Webkinz, Beanie Babies, virtual pets, Pogs, Garbage Pail Kids, shades, stickers, Rubix Cubes, Fruit Roll Ups, Cabbage Patch Kids and other trinkets and comforts. Think back to those teachers who had a deskful of contrband: Toys, gadgets, erasers and novelties literally stolen from children. (My own childhood stories of wtinessing these practices could monopolize this article, including my day of vindication when my father informed my sixth grade reading teacher to immediatly return my stolen items or he’d press theft charges).
The zealousy that school administrators and teachers use to proclaim the necessity of banning things that children enjoy is predictable evidence of their fear of not having the captives in line at all times. This can be seen in the delusional priorities that schools have regarding children’s safety. After all, the emotionally, physically and sexually traumatizing act of assaulting a child’s pelvic area with a wooden board is considered “good discipline” by schools in 20 states. The dangerous practice of forcing children to ignore natural bodily signals for their elimination, thirst, hunger and movement needs is considered acceptable in most schools. The tactic of insisting upon chemically restraining children with psychiatric drugs who cannot conform to environments devoid of movement, play and intrinsic learning is expected protocol by schools.
Yet ironically, groups of children possessing pieces of rubber, cardboard or plastic (that are more interesting than classes that no adult would want to sit through) is cause for an alarm reaction of epidemic proportions. You’d think that Silly Bandz, Pokemon cards and stuffed animals were more dangerous and traumatizing to children than, say, schools harming children’s bodies, minds and emotions with the chronic and pervasive creative and bodily neglect, emotional and chemical abuse and intellectual imprisonment of typical public school environments.
Unschooling families are aware that novelty, fun, play and physical activity are the primary motivating factors that naturally guide children to learn what they need to learn to fulfill their own passions. Abolishing fun, joy, novelty and movement is sucking the spirit and life out of childhood, short circuiting the young brain’s ability to create and making a child more susceptible to blind obedience and docility. In the eyes of many public school administrators, obedience and docility are what allows the system to run. In a system that treats children more like androids than human beings, banning Silly Bandz, Pokemon cards and other toys crazes over the years understandably would be more of a priority to schools than abolishing practices that harm and dehumanize children.