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School swap card ban does kids no favours

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A Melbourne primary school has placed a ban on children bringing swap cards to school in a bid to stop disputes over unfair trading.

According to a report in Melbourne’s Herald Sun (6-6-2013) Southmoor Primary School (in southern Melbourne) has banned the use of swap cards to spare younger children the distress of bad trades.

I understand that schools generally put a great deal of consideration into such bans, but this is possibly an over-reaction.

While it’s imperative for schools to provide safe environments or children, it’s equally important that they don’t entirely sanitise all learning opportunities in the process.

School grounds can be hierarchical places, rather than even playing fields. Building resilience in children requires that adults don't remove with these learning experiences.

Sometimes the best social lessons kids can learn come from the more dubious interactions they have during lunchtime and recess.

These lessons include avoiding conflict, handling disappointment and negotiating better outcomes. 

The street smarts that children pick up from their free and unrestricted play can be a huge advantage when negotiating tough social situations in secondary and beyond.

This means that teachers and parents need to coach kids in the skills and techniques that they need to negotiate the many situations they meet in the schoolyard.

Kids need some freedom to negotiate their own interactions and to learn from those experiences both good and bad.

Banning activities such as the use of swap cards robs kids of valuable learning activities. It also removes the need for teachers and parents to help kids to be smarter next time that they are on the losing end of a trading situation.





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