The benefits of rough-and-tumble play are well documented. It can be annoying for parents, it can get out of hand and lead to head bumps, but most authorities agree that it’s normal, healthy, and generally conducive to more confident kids.
When our public education system was created in the 19th century, its goal, quite explicitly, was to produce obedient and orderly factory workers to fill the new jobs being created by the Industrial Revolution. Those jobs are mostly gone now, and the needs of the 21st century are not the needs of the 19th. Perhaps there’s still a role for teaching children to sit up straight and form lines, but perhaps not . Certainly the rapidly increasing willingness of parents to try homeschooling , charter schools, online schools, and other alternative approaches suggests that a lot of people are unhappy with the status quo.
Rather than looking for the one best way to educate our kids, we might be better off putting together a diversified portfolio of educational approaches, some of which work better for some kids in some circumstances and some of which work better for other kids in other circumstances. Such an approach is likely to produce better outcomes, and at lower costs.
It isn’t guns as such that kids want. It’s the power that imaginary guns contain.
In our anxiety to understand and control real-life violence, we’ve tried to reduce our children’s relationships with their fantasies of combat and destruction to vast generalizations that we would never dream of applying to their fantasies about lover and family and discovery and adventure.
Play is children’s greatest art.
Childhood gun play is universal. Ethnologists have shown that in societies where guns aren’t part of the local symbology, kids play similar games with bows and arrows or spears.
Adults, perhaps too mired in reality, often don’t know how to respond to children’s fantasies.
Given that there are so many different kinds of kids and, today, so many different kinds of career paths, it makes sense to allow different approaches. This isn’t the industrial age anymore. Why pursue a one-size-fits-all approach in education?
Despite the decades-long efforts of many researchers, no casual correlation has been found between actual gun use and early-childhood fondness for toy guns, finger-shooting, or gun-filled TV shows.