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I was out in the garden yesterday and overheard two little kids, a brother and sister I think, having a very animated and enthusiastic discussion. The little chap was about 5 and his older sister the grand old age of about 7. The little brother was waxing lyrical about his love for sweet potatoes. The topic clearly was something about which he was passionate. It seems that his great love in life is eating sweet potatoes. His older sister did not seem to share his passion. After about 2 minutes of declaring how wondrous this vegetable is – in his opinion – his sister grew weary of the topic.

“It’s stupid to love sweet potatoes, and that makes you stupid.” she said.
” ‘Tis not!” he replied and added “it’s important to talk about things you love!”
With that, Miss Clever Clogs shut him down with a haughty “Oh, grow up!”

I smiled to myself and realised that these two tots could teach us all a lesson in life.

Just because her brother would have spent the rest of the afternoon talking about a subject which seems to interest him a great deal, not everyone shares his opinion on sweet potatoes.
To cut a short story even shorter, the conversation concluded amicably and they went on to chat about a mutually agreeable subject – that of if you cut a worm in half, would you get two worms? At that point, I retreated indoors and left them to their heady philosophical and scientific debate.

 I could not help but think that, when compared to the rubbish that seems to preoccupy our politicians and activists for ALL things trivial, these kids were more interesting.

It took me back to a documentary I saw back in 2014 where Swanson primary school ( elementary school for American readers) in New Zealand. embraced a radical idea. No rules in the playground. Kids would just be kids and sort life out amongst themselves. They could climb trees, fall out of trees, have an argument and sort the argument out.
And it worked. So much so, that 5 years on, the kids are still building tree houses, running and having fun.

download 5 

Essentially, as far as I can make it out, the idea behind what Swanson school does is to get the ‘grown-ups’ out of the way in order to let kids be kids. When they were left alone to sort things out, they did. It did not turn into “Lord of the Flies”, where the bullies took over and the weak became victims. Adult hierarchy did not emerge and they did not all get admitted to hospital suffering from mass neglect.

They return to the classroom after playtime, go back to work and generally seem to thrive in an environment where they can let steam off, not be wrapped in cotton wool or treated like they have no personal judgment.
Watch this short video from the Headmaster, Mr Bruce McLaughlin. It is heartwarming. It also is worth a thousand words.


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