Monday, 30 December 2013

I did not read it but

I did see the first paragraph of an article in The Times about an investigation into the present reading habits of children. Apparently children would "prefer" to read those series of short, lightweight books that publishers love to publish - Seaquest, Dragonquest, Choose your own adventure, Babysitters, Pony Club.... and so on. I am sure you know the sort of thing I mean.
These are, presumably, the childhood equivalent of Mills & Boon Romance or Westerns. I don't know.
There was another article in our state newspaper this morning bewailing the fact that children are not getting enough physical activity. Apparently riding a bike to school has dropped from two out of five children to one out of twenty in a generation.
Why is anyone surprised by this? Allow your child to go to school on their own? It's not safe! They have to be delivered to the door, indeed some schools demand they are delivered to the door.
The article suggested that children needed to have more adult supervised activity but that it had to be "fun". Fun? Adult supervised "fun"?
Adult supervised fun does not exist. As a child you can enjoy time with an adult, of course you can.  It is not however anything like unsupervised time away from adults. You do not learn how to build a cubby house with your parent telling you what to do and how to do it. You don't learn how to climb a tree or do "wheelies" under adult supervision. You don't learn the fine art of childhood negotiations with an adult listening in.
You won't fight or bully or be fought or be bullied. You won't take risks and encourage others to take risks. You won't get teased or tease someone else. You won't use your imagination instead of having it used for you through an electronic babysitter. You won't find out what your body can and can't do until you fall out of the tree or off the swing or take a tumble from your bike. If you are unlucky you will break something - and that will also be part of the learning experience.
I don't think children really want "quest" series to read. They just think they do. The books are short and all they have time for. They move rapidly like the electronic entertainment they are used to.
A successful series is a publisher's dream with all sorts of commercial possibilities but it isn't really doing children any favours. Nor is closely supervising their active play so that it is the adult idea of "fun" going to do any favours.
Will someone please provide the money for real adventure playgrounds, take all electronic devices from children at the gate, don't let adults in - just leave one at the gate for emergencies.
It will take children a while to learn how to play but I think they could do it if adults didn't interfere.


Miriam said...

I understand what you're saying. I see the logic in it. But I still wish adults had "interfered" more when I was a child.

catdownunder said...

For you yes Miriam - but for the vast majority of children it is the wrong thing to do. I don't think even you would have wanted constant interference would you? Just enough to help you make your own way?

Helen Devries said...

If I had the misfortune to be a modern child I think I would go mad - restrictions at all turns!

Anonymous said...

I would be up the wall in no time! Have I done this to my own kids? Hope not! Chris

Anonymous said...

I had a farm to roam around, and used pretty much every corner of it. Our two grew up in towns and much less freedom to roam, but I certainly let them be alone in the back yard. The next generation are not allowed out of sight of an adult ... unless they are in their rooms.
Their children will be under lock and key!