Our walk in Pacific Spirit Park made me ponder about the loss outdoor recreation spaces. Population increase and city densification have inevitably resulted in more people moving into smaller living spaces. At the same time green space is disappearing due to the rising property values.  The average home and yard size is decreasing and many families live in townhouses and apartments with no backyard and no parks for children to play in.

Risk and liability have played an increasing role in the decline of outdoor play. The fear of predators coupled with laws that prohibit children from going to public spaces without adult supervision have greatly restricted outdoor play in public areas. Children are increasingly living more sedentary lives by spending more time indoors playing video games and watching TV. It is no surprise that childhood obesity rates are at an all-time high.

How can we effectively balance risk management without becoming too conservative with our physical education activities?

Will focusing on risk avoidance result in the removal of valuable physical education activities from our school curriculum?

Will the endemic paranoia of litigation continue to intensify the epidemic of childhood obesity?

By focusing too much on planning school curriculum around the mitigation of every possible incident, lesson plans may become so limited that we remove all the value and enjoyment from the activities themselves.  The increasing sedentary lifestyles by children are happening at the same time as institutions seek to stifle exploration and natural curiosity from outdoor activity. Risk and exploration are important parts of childhood experience. Through increasingly restrictive and preventative measures, we are prohibiting fun and health lifestyles in favor of restricted manageable risk-free indoor activities.

One thought on “Angela MacPhail – OCTOBER 14TH REFLECTION”

  1. Hi Angela,

    I really liked this post about the correlation between urbanization, liability and childhood obesity. However, I also think society plays a big role in how we live and play within our community. For example, I went to Kindergarten in Japan, Tokyo, which we can all agree is extremely urbanized. Yet the society there is not sedentary, and the liability issues are not a concern, because the society looks out for the care and well-being of others. In my older brother’s classroom, over half of the students walked themselves to school, in bustling Tokyo. There wasn’t the same obsession with kid-napping or predators. When we moved to New York, it became completely different, where parents would drive their children to school and walk them into the front doors! Society plays a large role in how safe we view our community, and the media in North America plays a big role in this.

    I also agree with your comment about lesson planning to ensure the minimal liability is exposed, therefore taking the ‘fun’ out of the lesson. Working in a pool, we discuss the risk factors of every aspect of the pool. Several of the most popular water slides in my old facility were removed one year, because the city thought them ‘unsafe’. Instead of providing children with a critical mind, so they can think for themselves where something is safe or not, we are instead coddling them so they cannot think for themselves. I believe this has been very detrimental to our students, and is something I hope that we, as new teachers, can bring an awareness and a balance, between removing the actual danger, and providing enough risk to provoke learning.

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