The whole "nation of wimps" or "let the kids play outdoors" movement seems to be growing, according to this recent New York Times article.
A kid with an Xbox can blow up the planet, but he can’t scrape his knee or even grow short of breath. A stone-skipper, though, might fall into a pond, forcing one of his resourceful buddies to snap a branch off a nearby maple tree and hold it out to him before he drowns.
Thus does parental protectiveness come full circle, with the deliberate promotion of character-building childhood mishaps. By pushing that baby-on-board overboard — particularly if that baby was born a male — we can encourage him, the thinking goes, to develop emotional sea legs. That’s the hidden redemptive promise behind the appeal of the “The Dangerous Book for Boys” and the rise of play-positive organizations like the Alliance for Childhood: It’s not too late to raise a scrapper, even if he grew up eating organic and riding to Montessori school in a Volvo.
I introduced some readings on the subject to last semester's nature-writing class, and some of the students wrote thoughtfully on the topic. Follow the "childhood" label for more, or just cruise the January-April 2007 archives.
We did not get around to discussing the Alliance for Childhood, but one student wrote an essay about the elimination of recess from elementary schools that she called "Silent Swings." (Give me a title with a good pun and you're halfway to an A.)