Sunday, May 20, 2007

Child Endangerment Laws

I haven't written about school much lately, so I thought I was due. I reckoned it'd be interesting to speak about the child endangerment laws. Or the lack thereof, I guess. It's much different than America...

1. Last Thursday I was at school and it was my turn for lunch duty (which I have every Thursday). Two children had launched a paper airplane (this term's unit is flight) onto the sails that cover part of the playground. To try to retrieve the airplane, they were throwing shoes up at it in an effort to bounce it off. I allowed this, as I found it to be an inventive, creative way to get the item. As would be expected, though, a shoe ended up on the roof of the school. It was near the end of duty time, so I told the kids to go get Tu (the groundskeeper) and ask him to get it off the roof. I then went in the building go ring the bell, signaling the end of play.

When I came back, the ladder had been put next to the building and unattended children were climbing it, trying to get to the roof. Tu hadn't stayed to help, no teachers were present, just children climbing a ladder to try to get to the roof. I immediately went over to, a) take over the situation because the kids were too short to get to the roof, and b) take over the situation because really, were these kids climbing on to the roof without supervision?

I got on the roof and got the shoe, but got stuck (laughable, right?). So I asked Suzie Jo, a middle school teacher, to come help me get my feet back on the ladder. Once I was down, she said to me (in almost a scold), 'Next time, don't climb on the roof. One of the kids will do it.'

I'm sorry. What?

2. The following day there was a union meeting for all the teachers at school. The union meeting took place during the day, so after lunch, all the teachers left to go to the meeting, leaving a skeleton crew of 3 non-union teachers and 2 relievers (including me). Earlier that week the students had taken home a notice letting parents know that there would be a union meeting, and it was encouraged that parents find alternative care for their children for the afternoon of the union meeting. Being the good Ponsonby families they are, most kids were picked up at noon.

The interesting thing, though, is that no child signed out. The parents just rocked up and grabbed their kiddos. No telling teachers, no telling the office, just up and gone. Hayley my principal, was actually walking by me when a parent approached her and said, 'Do we need to sign them out?' to which she replied, 'Nope, they can just go. See you tomorrow.'

I'm sorry. What?


Kids aren't required to wear shoes. Anywhere.

The schools have no fences around them. Strangers can rock in and out at will, if wanted. Side doors (unwatched by office persons) are unlocked. Again, just come in and out if you want to, guys.

I'm allowed to touch children (gasp!)!

I never wear gloves when touching blood or (yes, I've had to) urine.

But, at the same time, kids are happy here. They are (for the most part) respectful and mature. They feel safe. The lack of fences has never caused a kiddo to go missing, through his own will or the will of another.

So although the practices still sometimes shock me, they sure are working.

(the picture is Hugo, one of my little cuties...)

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