Kids Have Fun Till Wiser Heads Prevail
“You’re IT? No, You’re YOU, and You’re WONDERFUL!”
Recently, a school in Massachusetts made national news when it banned jump ropes from its phys ed class. The students still play jump rope games, but the ropes themselves are outlawed, because it was felt that tripping on them ruins the self-esteem of the clumsier pupils.
When Chrislip Elementary principal Jackie Williams read about this, she realized that she could make her own school a little better. She banned the game of Tag.
“It was the most popular game at recess,” she says. “I would hear the laughter and the constant shouts of ‘You’re It, you’re It!’ How degrading that is to hear children stripping each other of their gender, their individuality. I knew those happy shouts had no place on our playground.”
At first she thought a simple fix might be to replace the word “It” with “Little Captain Sunshine.” But soon she realized that wasn’t the solution. “Kids aren’t dumb. When they heard ‘You’re Little Captain Sunshine!’, they knew it was just a substitute for the uglier I-word.”
So she banned the position of It from the game altogether. The kids still play tag, but nobody’s It, and no one gets chased.
“The playground’s a lot quieter now,” says Williams. “No laughing, no shouting, but lots of self-esteem. A few years from now these kids will be sedentary teenagers who think they’re God’s gift to the world, but feel absolutely no need to prove it. And they’ll have me to thank for it.
Jackie Williams has been principal of Chrislip Elementary for six years. Her brother Mick is professor of sociology at Chrislip College.