Terrorist Tots? You’re Outta There! Book Study Expert Commentary for Chapters 8, 9, and 29 (Week 6)

Published on: October 5, 2015

Filled Under: Beyond The Pages, Books, Guest Speakers

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This week we are discussing Chapter 8- But Competition Is Human Nature, Chapter 9- Terrorist Tots, and Chapter 29- You’re Outta Here! Teacher Tom is our guest content expert this week to provide insight and lead our discussion. Visit Teacher Tom’s website to learn more about his work. You can find him on Facebook at TheTeacherTom. Tweet with him @TheTeacherTom Just joining us? Get all the book study details HERE.

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Blog Book Study Contribution from Teacher Tom Hobson

Teacher Tom

Growing up, children of my generation were told that competition was a healthy thing. Competition was defended as a manifestly good, a character builder, an important part of growing up. It’s how we learned about winning and losing, discipline, teamwork, and a certain type of focused fierceness.

I grew up believing these myths of competition, carrying them well into my adulthood, but my years working with young children has lead me to see that what biologists are increasingly coming to understand about the nature human beings: it is not about “survival of the fittest,” but rather “survival of the most cooperative,” a position that Charles Darwin himself came around to in his later years.

Pica argues that competition is a learned rather than in-born behavior, a position I’ve found to true, especially among the preschoolers I teach. When left to their own devices, when allowed to play freely with their friends, we find that young children are much more likely to engage in cooperative, than competitive play.

Today, most researchers turn a jaundiced eye toward competition for children younger than 10, and especially when adults place an emphasis on winning. Sadly, traditional public schools are still largely trapped by the mythology of competition, creating “educational” environments in which children are increasingly being pitted against one another for grades and test scores. Not only is this unhealthy for young children, but it also runs counter to what we know about the ongoing evolution of the human species.

In chapters 10 and 29, Pica addresses normal childhood fantasy play (particularly weapon play) and the often-grotesque adult overreactions, such as so-called “zero tolerance” policies and expulsion.

As a boy, I played plenty of shoot-em-up and superhero games, and I’ll confess to a very strong personal aversion to real-life weapons, especially guns. At our school the children have always made their own rules, and each year for my first decade or so of teaching, among those rules was “No guns, real or pretend.” People don’t believe me, and I’m sure their parents influenced the kids, but this rule invariably emerged from the children themselves and not only that, they all agreed. Several years ago, we added a class of older children, 5-year-olds, and when the subject of guns came up, they promptly banned real guns, but balked at the subject of pretend guns. When I prompted, “Aren’t you worried someone will be scared?” they answered, “We know the difference,” and they did. As Pica writes, “We impose our adult anxieties about real guns and real violence on them (children) . . . (W)e need to encourage children to “play these things out,” to build fantasies, and to work their concerns and fears into an imaginary life.”

It reminds me of a story from the days when our gun ban was in effect:

One day Cash was standing in our loft with what was clearly a gun he had fashioned from some ½” PVC pipe he had found in the block area. Since he was quietly playing on his own, it was the kind of thing I normally allowed to pass, but one of his classmates noticed, objected, and complained, “Cash has a gun,” so I had to do something.

I said, “That looks like a gun.”

Cash lied, “It’s not.”

This is one of the very real negative side effects of a strict preschool weapons ban — it encourages kids to lie.

I pushed on. “You and your friends made a rule that says ‘No guns in preschool’.

“It’s not a gun.”

“It looks like a gun.”

“It’s a love shooter.”

Giving him credit for quick thinking, I said, “That doesn’t sound so bad. Do you think your friends know it’s a love shooter?”

Cash looked down upon his classmates, “No, they probably think it’s a gun.”

“And they’re probably scared because they think you’re shooting bullets at them.”

Cash answered, “I’ll tell them,” and with that he descended from the loft and went from child-to-child informing them that the PVC construction in his hand wasn’t a gun, it was a love shooter. By the time he was done, he’d collected a team of boys, each with his own PVC love shooter. They marched back into the loft and proceeded to rain love down on a group of girls who were dancing around with their hands over their heads.

I stood shoulder-to-shoulder with one of my co-teachers, proudly watching the scene, enjoying my own magnificent ability to turn violence into love. I said, “Look at them spreading love instead of war.”

She answered, “And the girls are loving it too.”

It must have clicked for both of us at the same moment. Our eyes locked as we shared a look that bespoke horror. We watched in awkward silence as the boys and girls joyfully played a game that looked to us adults like some sort of bizarre, slightly pornographic fertility rite.

She finally broke the silence, “They have no idea, right?”

And I answered, “I hope they get tired of it soon.”

When it comes to children, adults as Pica points out, often see things that aren’t there, be it sex, violence or an objection to eating beets. That’s why I prefer the children making their own rules. They know the difference.

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Please share/retweet this post! Let us know that you’re participating in this study. We’d love to hear from you about your thoughts regarding Chapters 8, 9, and 29  and about the commentary that Teacher Tom has provided. Your voice matters – participate in the dialogue and share your ideas here! (Comment below) If you’ve chosen to blog about what you’ve read on your own site, link back and share your post with us here. Perhaps you have a burning question about something that you read in one of these chapters… we have a feature for that – Ask The Author! That’s right, Rae Pica will be available throughout this live study to answer your questions. #AskAuthor

What to read next: Chapters 10- The Myth of the Brain/Body Dichotomy, 14- The Body Matters Too, 15- Reading, Writing, Rithmetic, and Recess, and 16- Why Kids Need Gym (10/12/15).

*If you’re a MN participant seeking training hours, please visit this link to access to requirements.

46 Responses to Terrorist Tots? You’re Outta There! Book Study Expert Commentary for Chapters 8, 9, and 29 (Week 6)

  1. John S Green says:

    Teacher Tom’s story about the ‘Love Shooter” gives a great message about the children’s natural instinct to be cooperative. All human beings are born with these empathetic qualities.

    I may have to read Rae Pica’s book, “What if Everybody Understood Child Development?” It begs the message of world peace, of course!

  2. Betsy says:

    Living in Wyoming many people own guns as a tool for hunting and to put food on the table. Hunting is a long time tradition and part of the state’s culture. To ban gun play or to say they are “bad” in an early childhood setting is disrespectful to many of the children’s families and family culture. I have however discouraged excessive gun play by having children consider how busy our classroom is and how many people are around and it is not safe to shoot guns in crowded areas. I remind children they must have a license to be permitted to use a gun, must be in an area where guns are permitted and they must have adult supervision to learn to use them appropriately. In a culture where guns are a norm I want to teach responsible use and respect.

  3. Sarah Fritsch says:

    As a preschool teacher I always have my class make class rules the first week. I post them in the room with picture symbols so students can remember the rules they created. The ownership in the rules empowers the students. Instead of the teacher reminding the class of the rules my students often remind me of the rules.
    I also believe that play helps us process the most difficult life experiences. I have had children play out all types of situations from giving birth to funerals. It is an amazing thing to observe.

  4. Mike says:

    In my classroom, we use guidelines rather than rules. Our three guidelines are: We Take Care of Each Other, We Solve Problems Together and We Help Our Community. When gunplay happens, the question we ask is, “Are we taking care of each other?” If everyone in the game is OK with gunplay then we are taking care of each other. If someone does not want to play that way then players need to keep the play away from that child so they don’t have to worry.

    I often present my workshop Making Peace with Warplay, and have talked with many teachers about how they deal with this type of play. The most interesting case was a teacher who worked with a lot of refugees from Iraq who fled ISIS. Some of the children needed to use gunplay as a way to cope with their experience and other children seemed to be suffering PTSD and could not witness such play. We came up with a plan to have the kids who needed this play to go outside at a different time than the others (families were also receiving mental health services).

    Once again, it really comes down to listening and seeing the needs of children from their perspective rather than what is easiest for us as adults.

  5. Jen Nagorski says:

    Love your photo as well as your post, Teacher Tom!

    Two things stood out to me in these readings. First, that children use play to make sense of their world. This is at the heart of what it means to work with children. Through play, children communication their fears, frustrations, hopes, and dreams. For this reason, I use play (often medical play) with patients to allow them to explore, communicate, and hopefully master their feelings and experiences. While we want children to be safe, putting limits on play stifles this important tool for expression. I can learn so much from a child by watching how they direct play. For example, a child struggling with pokes may use the syringe in a medical play kit to repeatedly poke a stuffed animal. This play may certainly look violent to an adult onlooker, but the child is working out some complicated emotions and finding a way to communicate their struggles.

    This leads me to the second point: adults tend to impose adult anxieties on children. I see this all the time with parents who are fearful about letting their children visit their child who is a patient in the hospital (especially when the patient is very ill). They express concern about young children becoming afraid of the new environment (lines, tubes, medical equipment) or seeing adults become emotional. I try to explain that often times as adults we think children will have the same reaction to seeing their sibling in a hospital bed as adults to. When in reality often children are more curious than afraid and more affectionate than sad. Like the love shooter story, sometimes we must allow children to have “naive” or “childish” views–we must allow them to be children.

    As Mike says, it all really comes down to listening to the needs of the children we work with and adjusting accordingly.

  6. Rachel says:

    I really enjoyed these chapters – Chapter 8 initially started me thinking about competition – is there “healthy competition?” Is competition “human nature”? like the quotes Rae opened the chapter with – things we hear all the time. I did start to wonder if competition and cooperation are necessarily opposites? I am all for children learning and playing cooperatively – I think that is a VERY important skill to work on (one that many adults haven’t mastered!). I especially loved the musical chairs example – culture and environment play such a huge role in how both cooperation and competitiveness are fostered! I think both are important to consider as motivation for children’s behavior. We want to encourage children to want to collaborate instead of compete in most instances.

    In Chapter 9, the concept that really resounded for me was to “look beyond the short term” – I think this obviously was well applied in the discussion about fantasy play with guns/violent characters but can be applied to so much more in our work with children. They way that we make “no tolerance” rules or we step in to intervene so often is only looking at the immediate short term consequences, but the big picture is so much more important -in supporting the development of well, rounded, adjusted kids. Chapter 29 did a nice job of discussing that logical consequences need to be found instead of these school expulsions and zero tolerance policies that kids don’t even connect with in any other way than to feel unworthy.

  7. Jane says:

    The value of play Rae Picha explains that children will not fall behind when allowed to learn through play. As educators we need to allow time for children to experience the materials without over controlling the end result. Some children will need more time to feel comfortable with their own skills. I enjoyed observing their attention span when allowed to choose how they wanted to play. I am aware how much time is lost waiting for everyone to get on task in more teacher directed activities. I recall precious moments in the classrooms I experienced as a child where time was allowed for creative open ended play / learning.

  8. Dianne says:

    I think our society pushes competition too much and that it is negatively affecting children. In my daycare, I see a lot of competition going on in children as young as two and three years old. They make a lot of things they do into a race to see who can do it faster. It isn’t only when driving cars across the room, but also who can clean up the fastest, who can finish their pictures the fastest, who can eat their lunch the fastest, etc. Then the child that finishes first proudly announces that they won. I keep reminding them that not everything should be done fast and working together to do a good job of cleaning up toys is a better idea. Sometimes I just feel like I am fighting a losing battle. It doesn’t help when a parent comes to pick up their child at the end of the day and the child proudly exclaims, “I was the fastest eater today!” and then the parent praises the child. I see how competition adds stress to children’s lives and how it also has a negative effect on self-esteem for the children that rarely are the fastest.

  9. Kim Woehl says:

    I am choosing to comment on chapter 9 as this chapter really spoke to me. My son was sent home in kindergarten for bringing a toy knife (part of a camping set for 2-4 year olds). It was about 6 inches long and had a blade about 1/2 inch thick by about 2.5 inches long. It had a hugely rounded end. We have to be reminded of who was to play with this toy. (2-4 year olds). He has autism and did not understand the mistake he was making in bringing what still is a knife although one that could not be harmful to anyone. He loved being outdoors and camping and he wanted to show his teacher. Instead he got into significant trouble and at the young age of five he already had his first report and suspension written into his file.

    I worry about violence in schools, but see the problem as a different one. I see a problem with bullying. I see very young children (as young as two), calling names. When a child hits because they are still learning better choices, they are punished with little thought about what else might have been going on. I see children all the time hurting someone, sometimes intentional but many times as a reaction to a challenge they are facing. We very often fail to talk to both of the involved parties. Victim, how can we keep you safe for next time? How might we be a better friend for this child? From the child who hit, we need to talk about other options and better choices for next time. This too is a discussion for both children about how I will support each child and help them to learn to be more successful. We must maintain self-esteem, we must talk with children about the challenges we are having, we need to be part of their team.

    From a program perspective I did not allow guns into play, but did have a change of heart when parents started going off to war. I was now able to see a need that perhaps did not exist before. We needed to be able to talk about and address these things with young children. I still think we have a liability with parents if we allow guns in our programs, but I do also think that we need to be realistic about what is a threat and what is a learning opportunity or a moment to discuss what kids are feeling or thinking about.

  10. Heather Q says:

    I grew up trying to keep Barbie safe from my brothers G. I. Joe toys. They would kidnap her, cut her hair and give her tattoos. Neither of my brothers grew up to victimize women or become hair stylists or tattoo artists. It was imaginary play. We didn’t watch tv, but we read lots of books and some of those stories were violent and scary. Our brains figured out what was imaginary and what was real. Why is today different?

    http://hqtoddlers.blogspot.com/2016/05/bang.html

  11. Cindy Kish says:

    I agree on chapter 8 on Competition. I can’t believe the behavior you see when you go to children’s sports events the bad behavior of some of the adults because their child’s team is not winning. This is a problem with both professional and sporting events in general today. When young children are seeing bad behavior, it is teaching them that is acceptable behavior, then parents what to know why their children think they can yell at them when they don’t like a call or decision the parents make after seeing their parents yelling at the coach or other parents.
    I also agree with this chapter on how children feel when they have so much completion in their lives. We wonder why we see young children having stress problems, but look at some of the competition and number of activities these young children are involved in with no time for free play and expression to vent these feelings.

  12. Diana M says:

    As Tom said, I too grew up with the idea that competition is a necessary part of life so might as well learn it young so that children understand failure and that they aren’t going to win all the time. So this chapter was a very interesting read for me. Reading it though and having worked with young kids for a few years now, I will agree that cooperation is the key word. We always think life is a competition, but when we really think about it, you can’t get far if you have no idea how to work with people. Hence why employers are looking for people who can work in a team setting! And going beyond that, personal relationships obviously require an immense amount of cooperation if they are to be successful. Let’s be honest, no one really likes that person who is always trying to “one up” everybody else during conversation. (We all know that person.) In one of the preschool rooms, we would play musical chairs, but realized very quickly that unless we have the kids who got out a little reward or something, we would have a class full of crying kids. Actually, we stopped playing that game for quite awhile because we had one child who was so competitive that every time he didn’t win, he’d cry and scream like he was dying or something.

  13. Rachel D says:

    As an unwritten rule in our classroom I always would say we don’t make guns in school with the toys or even play with pretend guns. I have had situations where a student would point out that another child was making a gun. When I confronted that child they would then deny it and lie. Bringing up the exact point that Teacher Tom mentioned. Creating a need for a student to feel like they should be lying. Exactly the opposite of what we want the students to be doing. They need to be able to use their imaginations and not feel like they should have the same fears that we do as adults around guns. After reading Ch. 9 I talked about the concept with my co-teacher. She was very intrigued with what the book had to say. I think we are going to start rethinking how we handle pretend play that involves guns in our classroom.

  14. Kelsie Brandl says:

    I was never a very athletic kid. Especially when I was younger. So I never enjoyed gym time or even recess because athletes were looked up to. I dreaded the roller-skate terms. I seemed to be the only one who could not do it. Competition got better once I found my niche, swimming, but we shouldn’t be faced with it at such a young age.
    I don’t ever remember doing any imaginative play with weapons. We played boys vs girls when I was in the second grade during recess a lot where we got away with pushing each other without being caught. Once, a girl and I pushed a boy into a huge patch of sandburs, but it was code to never tell on each other, so he said he tripped.
    Imagination should trump violence. Sure, there are your cases of these “killer kids”, but they often have deeper signs. I’ve often wondered if screening children would help prevent cases like that. To get help sooner. I’m sure kids play with pretend weapons all the time at their homes, so why force them not to at school?
    Great read!

  15. Samantha Miller says:

    These chapters brought up many different feelings for me. I do have a no gun policy in my room, but after reading this it makes me rethink why I do. I don’t like when they shoot at other people, but the thought that they need to make sense of the world by acting things out gives me the ahhha moment. I had also found it difficult to talk about no guns when many of my families go hunting so the children are used to that sort of thing. It still gives me the they shouldn’t do that feeling but also knowing what else they need to do is making be reassess what I feel is important. Is These are good things to think about. Also time outs I do not use them in my classroom we do talking about things and other appropriate actions. But we see so many schools expelling children who don’t understand why that it’s not allowed.

  16. Freda says:

    Competition is one of the leading causes of hate among children. And there seem to be competition in their daily lives. Parents often want their kids to be better than their peers. they instill that mindset on their children and this is a major evolving issue. what happened to the word ‘Teamwork’? As a former member of the armed forces, we were taught to never leave any soldier behind. Teamwork was very important to be able to successfully carry out a mission . TV shows like dance mom did nothing but add to the already existing problem. In this particular show, which I stopped watching after just one episode, the parents are more competitive and catty than their kids. That alone was bad enough to hurt the feelings of their kids without intentionally trying to.
    I am not a big fan of scolding kids. I was raised in a family where strict policies didn’t exist. And we all did great growing up. My parents saw something that other parents didn’t see in scolding kids. They had the believe that scolding a child will not solve any issue but instead add to the problem at hand. As a mom today, I do believe it does have psychological effects on a child and I do not practice it whatsoever. There are better way to redirect a child.
    I have read of stories of children getting a huge punishment like suspension for a little offence. This is definitely not the best way to handle an unfortunate situation. Harsh treatment will most likely drive any child back into its shell like a turtle. It make them feel very powerless and this is bad as they tend to be less expressive.

  17. Nikki Shapiro says:

    I am not sure I agree with all of what was shared in this section. As an adult, I have used the self evaluation tool called the strengths finder. Its theory is that we all have some inherent strengths that define how we view the world, how we act in the workplace and our relationships. Many of our “sales” team members had the strength of competition. I did not. But it stems from the idea that we are born with these strengths and tend to lean towards them throughout our schooling and careers. I do agree that competition at a young age is not necessary and that children naturally cooperate when left in a group play setting. There will be some necessary negotiating amongst the group. And usually a leader is decided upon by the group. Is that how competition starts with children? Is it really formulated by adults? I am not sure and I think that the conversation needs to continue. As far as a weapons policy, I usually try to redirect play if it involves guns. And we regularly use knives to prepare fruits and vegetables for lunch or snack. I think it is important for young children to learn to be careful with some items and cautious with tools, learn about their uses and know when to use those tools. It is under supervision of course, but they are empowered when allowed to take a risk such as cutting up foods for a meal.

  18. Kirsten Barie says:

    Chapter 8 on competition really expressed how I am feeling right now. I just came off a long dance recital weekend. Our studio is non-competitive and ranges from preschoolers all the way up to adults. Several of my daughters friends attend competitive studios but she has never wanted to join them. She sees the value of where she is at. There is a sense of support, self-confidence, and acceptance of everyone there. We are really proud of this. Children can gain so much in non-competitive situations! It’s not all about who gets the medal!
    Chapters 9 and 29 discussed weapons and zero tolerance policies. We don’t have a zero tolerance policy but generally tell the children at our preschool that pretend guns are not allowed. I do think it is ok to tell them this because using guns, in my opinion, is not acceptable behavior. I do understand that the topic comes up due to all that children are exposed to on tv or around them. I think if we let our preschoolers run around and pretend to shoot or hurt each other all day, parents would question it and not want their child to be in our environment. I think there do need to be some boundaries but the don’t have to go overboard by kicking children out of school.

  19. Marcy Dragseth says:

    I enjoyed Chapter 8. But competition is human nature. I have seen the difference between competition versus cooperation. My childcare kids work so much better together when they are working on a common goal. Like building with legos or building a fort. They all feel proud that they were able to accomplish this together. Which is better than being competitive and trying to out build the other.

    Chapter 9 and 29-I have seen first hand that children boys and girls with construct a gun out of anything. Observing the fantasy play seeing their imagination being used is so important. Especially nowadays with so much screen time. Using your imagination is rarely being done. Having conversations explaining real versus fantasy just needs to be explained.

  20. Kelly North says:

    I liked chapter 8, it makes a lot of sense. Kids in this generation start learning competition before cooperation because they start doing competitive things at such a young. When we were kids that stuff was for the older kids. I think kids are happier when they play together working on a common goal. Because then no one child is singled out and given more praise then any of the others, and so everyone is happy.
    I have very mixed feelings about 9 & 29, let’s just say if kids are educated about what real guns can do and what they are used for, I think this would be less of an issue.

  21. Yi Ling (Ivy) Flanders says:

    I really like the idea of cooperation. Also not to hold contests or assign gold stars or stickers to the best students. In our program we used to have all kinds of contest, but it only leaded to another bigger problem then we stopped, to play and facilitate cooperative games would be a better way. I like the idea of setting boundaries around the play, such as don’t allow children to bring in fabricated war toys, but do let them make some of their own guns and swords with open-ended materials. Building relationships with family is also very important in our school, we usually spend sometime to talk to parents when drop-off and pick-up so we know if there’s anything we need to pay attention for the kids.

  22. Derrylin Young says:

    From these chapters, chapter 9 & 10 really interested me. I can’t believe that 6 year old kids are being suspended for playing with fake guns. I do understand trying to stop violence playing but I don’t think that is the consequence they should have gotten in response. I have told my preschool class in the past to stop making toys look like guns, such as blocks etc. I think that after reading these chapters that I should adjust this some. I believe I will still make sure we don’t have any play guns allowed in school but if a child wants to make one out of construction paper, blocks, etc. I’m not going to discourage them. Instead i will just observe them. I will observe how they are playing with these, and find out what they are thinking or feeling with this kind of play.

  23. Steph Kallinen says:

    Our local school is fairly zero tolerance with gun play and it drives me nuts! I live in a very rural community and the kids grow up hunting and shooting guns so of course they are going to engage in gun play. I have tried to be strict on it in my child care just because I know the kids will be sitting in the principal’s office come kindergarten.

  24. Kathryn says:

    I believe that competition to some extent is normal, healthy, and necessary. However, I don’t think that it needs to be quite as important as people make it out to be. If pushed too hard for too long, the child will start hating everything about learning, schooling, and competition. Children under the age of eight should focus on doing something for the sheer enjoyment of the activity. They should be focusing on learning the importance of cooperation, working together to reach a goal, and listening to other people’s ideas and opinions. Children today are so scheduled even down to the point of when to bathe, when to eat, and when to sleep are on a fixed agenda. Children need to have unstructured fantasy play time to be able to cope with their concerns and fears within it but they are not getting this. I am a strong believer that schools do not and should not need a zero tolerance policy for the younger elementary grades. Before the age of eight, children have no idea how to separate real from fake and what it means to make a “gun” or what have you. They don’t realize what the real-world implications of “shooting” someone really means. There should be more relaxed attitudes towards preschool, Kindergarten, and all the way up to middle school when we considering what is developmentally appropriate and developmentally acceptable for children.

  25. Samantha says:

    It’s really easy to forget that we maybe worried about guns coming to school or daycare. I know there are no guns in my household and when the kids come in they have empty hands. I have mostly boys and if I told them no guns, I’m afraid we would be lost on what to play with. When it comes to Legos or blocks their imagination is build a gun and shoot the deer. Living a rural area, our boys hunt game. I’m glad they hunt animals and don’t aim at each other but we discuss it too.

    Superheroes are huge. We even did our sons 4 year old picture in superhero costumes. Allows him to feel strong and can conquer anything. He loves the confidence that comes with being able to protect his mom and friends from the bad guys. I love helping the boys get all dressed up and watching even the girls want to be batwoman.

    I will be looking into our schools zero tolerance rule. I would dislike it very much if my son got suspended for a toy hand guy.

  26. Melissa D says:

    I am currently working with some staff regarding their thoughts on “gun” play and big body play in general. There is a push back when we try to talk about the importance and reasons that these types of play are important. I completely understand the idea these play scenarios can be scary and seem violent but there are ways to make this nessecary play more accessible; we have designated areas for this type of play and it is always always always supervised by one or more staff. If there is a moment where someone gets hurt the play stops and the problem is solved…if the play is welcome (and you can tell by the smiles and comments!) it is allowed to continue. There are so many children that NEED this kind of play and it would be a disservice to them to have it be denied.

  27. Karlee O says:

    I wish the chapter on competition and the chapters on weapon play/zero tolerance were in different weeks because I have many thoughts on both.
    I have some questions first on the chapter on competition. We are encouraged as educators to give children more opportunities to have group/team centered experiences rather than competitions. I wonder Pica and Hobson’s thoughts on competition between teams. Is it beneficial to have children compete as teams against other teams? Would this be a beneficial way to teach children how to be gracious “losers” and classy winners? Obviously we aren’t in direct competition in job interviews, as one example stated in the book, but shouldn’t we also learn in preparation for the loss of a job to another interviewee how to be introspective at how we can be better next time. I think children today have a hard time losing at things and I think playing competitive games where its ok to lose and someone has to win and someone has to lose are becoming fewer and fewer already without ridding children of these experiences altogether.
    The topic of zero tolerance is something I believe strongly against. I believe that it deaminizes all weapons when weapons are a part of life for many children. As an example the area I live in is a big hunting community where many parents own guns. To outlaw any pretend gun play makes these children believe any use of guns is bad and sheds a negative light on their parent who owns and uses guns. I heard of a class where children were given pretend guns and bows to use but only in the dramatic play area which was set up as a hunting camp. The children were given rules and expectations on how to use the guns (only for hunting the animals, not for pointing at people, etc). There are also children who’s family members have guns that they use for their jobs as military members or police officers who suffer in the same way by viewing their loved ones as “bad” or “wrong.” I think in these instances its important for teachers to encourage families to talk with children about weapon use in their own way but acknowledge that zero tolerance policies do these children an injustice.
    Finally, I like that the text pointed out that not allowing pretend weapon play blurs the line between fantasy and reality for children. I thinks it actually makes it more dangerous because children wont understand the difference if they ever encounter a real weapon. The child will not understand that there will be REAL consequences if they engage in fantasy play. I was taught there are rules for using any gun even pretend guns: only point at what you want to shoot, never shoot people or pets.

  28. Jill Baer says:

    The chapter on competition vs cooperation was thought provoking. I believe we need a balance of both. Competition should not be the main focus. Cooperation is a skill needed in all facets. Even in a job that is very competitive, cooperation will be needed to work with others outside of the business for it to be successful. I challenge my little ones to do their personal best. However, I think we do need to teach how to win and lose gracefully when age appropriate.

    Play opens the space to discuss and experience as well as learn. Many stories of who a child is comes out through play. We are a military family and my boys have experiences others most likely do not. The way my boys play, at times, allows others to see a bit of their home life and some of their environmental influences. Even if we were not a military family, my kids would have play guns. To completely remove them is not an option I will explore. I do not have a policy on no weapons, but a policy to talk, explore and teach.

  29. Amy Carter says:

    I really agree with teaching cooperation verses competition. In my opinion, it almost always comes down to your own personal best. And I feel a lot of times when parents are teaching competition it’s really more of an a misguided and unintentional attempt to live vicariously through their child. I think all parents want the best for their child and to prepare them the best they can but have maybe given little thought as to why they are promoting competition.
    Chapter 9 brought up some good points. I always told myself my kids would never own toy weapons. I have been able to maintain that fairly easily with two girls. And then I had a boy. Around three he began pulling candy canes off of the tree to play swords with his little friends. I felt a little bad that he was so desperate to play swords, and for Christmas he revived a foam toy sword. I thought I was in the clear after that. I thought it was a pretty good compromise. I yet again was wrong. As he began to play more and more with Legos he started making toy lego guns. I instantly told him no. And of course he was disappointed. And he of course kept doing it. And when I’d tell him no, he’d tell me it wasn’t a gun- it was a “water thing.”
    I still am not complete sure how to handle it. As for now I just let him but tell him he can’t pretend to shoot people. Interesting chapter and more for me to think about.

  30. Tasha Martin says:

    When I was planning to have children boys girls whatever they came out as I always said I didn’t like the pretend gun stuff. I have girls but even now when we go to friends and they have toy guns or at daycare make something into a toy gun makes me really uncomfortable and I make them stop. The world has changed so much and I fear for making that kind of thing normal to children. I have a conceal to carry license I made sure me and a single mother of 4 daughters I could protect us but my children have never seen a gun, we’ve never talked about it. I would have to say I’m may be extreme when it comes to over protection of my children. The world we live in has taught me that I need to be like this to be sure as my children age they stay weary of whats around and whats going on around.

  31. Arissa Kordell says:

    I guess my biggest thing I take away from these chapters is healthy and unhealthy competition. I strongly believe that competition is healthy and a very necessary part of life. When I was a kid we received trophies and ribbons when we succeeded at something. Now kids get participation points and participation trophies. I feel it’s important for kids to learn at a younger age that not everyone wins and succeeds in life. Life gives you challenges and I don’t believe that we are doing anything for our kids by not teaching them that.
    However with that being said I do not agree with the way we pressure our kids to the point that parents sit in the stands and scream at their children, scream at the referees, and the coaches. We do need to remember that these are kids and they are here to have fun too.

  32. Joni Helmeke says:

    I liked the quote from chapter 8 about “real life” not involving competition, whether it comes to academics or applying for a job, but instead being about doing your personal best. I think that’s a great lesson for kids to learn, and to have fun while they are doing what ever it is they are doing. Chapter 9 was a difficult one for me. The issue of guns and gun play is widely debated, I know, but I disagree that all children know the difference between pretend guns or violence and real guns, especially with certain populations. I also have a personal, negative experience with guns, where a child (with access to a real gun, who shouldn’t have) accidentally shot and killed his grandma when he was angry, not knowing the consequences of his actions. There are numerous stories about children getting hurt with guns when they were playing, let alone school shootings and the like. Also, I feel like there are a lot of other ways children can play that don’t involve violence, even if it is imagined. In this day and age, sadly, I feel it’s called for. I do agree, though that the over reactions of adults in the cases mentioned with zero tolerance policies and expelling very young children from programs or schools is in called for. Maybe more teaching, about violence, not less is what is needed.

  33. Laura says:

    Competition is something we all do and have in us, within my childcare I try not to dot he gold star or the best student or winner.. We share and work as a group for most of our day and teach working as a team but we all know that we can not avoid the competition on everyday life around us and what the world makes us think it is suppose to be like.
    The thought of suspending a 5 year old for playing cops and robbers is just plain crazy, we would be in so much trouble because we live out in the country and hunting is a way of life for most of us and most of the families I care for hunt so our children play hunting on a regular basis. Does this mean that they are going to be suspended in school for playing hunting. I hope not, what a double standard we are teaching our children…. its ok to do something at home but not ok to do that exact same thing in school. Children do not know or understand the thought of an actual threat to someone to cause physical hurt.
    As a provider caring for young children you always want to know that is going on at home and in life, to better care for the child and to understand the behaviors of a child. A child may be acting out if the parents are not getting along at home and not saying anything to you as the provider and you would have a better understanding of the child’s behavior if the parents would just inform you that they are having a difficult time with and not think of their pride and more for the child in this case. I personally do not 100% agree with the zero tolerance rules in the school systems, there is no way that a young child, 5,6,7 or 8 year old knows that the pink toy gun that shoots out bubbles is considered a weapon or if they use it they are considered terrorists….. I think this world is plain out crazy and we seem to have to live sheltered lives just to stay alive and away from big towns/cities attractions.

  34. Kora says:

    I remember in high school that kids would get out of school suspension or get kicked out of school and they enjoyed it. So it was more like a reward to them to prompt the bad behavior for it to happen again. So I agree with the chapter when it talks about need the education and school time even more. maybe they should consider keeping the troubled kids in school longer or on a weekend. They probably would be better behaved if they had to give up a day over the weekend. But it also has to be for the right reasons. Some of the reasons why these kids got expelled in these chapters were stupid. And why you would interrogate a little kid for hours without the parents is a lawsuit waiting to happen. The issue of guns has been controversial for sure. in school and at a different school I worked at, the kids could not bring anything related to violence to school and could not play anything related to guns. But yet on the same lines, the kids always played games so that there are winners and losers. this is no better in my mind. The competition of games is ridiculous and kids are sad and mad ect, when it doesn’t go there way. I try to make the games for fun with no winners or losers, it should just be for fun.

  35. Bobbie S says:

    Chapter 8, I am not a big believer in competition but I believe if we make it more about having fun, we will find what children love in sports. My 7 yr old we put him in sports he loses we stil say its all about playing with our friends who cares we lost. This year he tried wrestling he has lost every match, but he is learning and is actually very good. It has helped with some issues with bullies at school and he stays focused like a chunky kid with a hamburger haha(not trying to be mean but its true). So no we should not be win win, but we should be alright that was fun, lets just have fun, also this gives kids exercise and I honsetly love active children, we only do tv at rest time.
    chapter 9
    I don’t ban gun play, are you kidding me, I have girls that hunt with dad and they are 5,6,and 7. NO, let children play, didn’t make me a gun welding mass shooter cause I played cops and robbers or cowgirls and idians. Seriously people need to let children play and stop reading into it and blowing innocent play out of control! This makes me so mad put god back into school and stop letting adults that can not speak english be entilted and ruin our kids. They are no no and they don’t let their kids have fun. Okay I have to leave this alone I could probably right a book on how this is wrong to tell kids having an imagintaion about being a cop is bad!
    chapter 29
    Same as above, let children be children and use their brain and have a good time.

  36. Sue says:

    The thought of working to do well is a nice idea. COOPERATING toward a goal together feels so much more rewarding, I think.
    Todays kids see much more violence in gaming, movies and television. I sometimes think it is hard to learn what is real and what is not.

  37. Jessica Kabogoza says:

    I found these chapters to be very thought provoking. Chapter 8 focused on the over emphasis of pushing competitiveness on children at such a young age. I do agree that it is best to have children try to cooperate with one another over compete with one another, but I do notice that in the area of seeking my attention, there seems to be a lot of competition. Both of my children vie for the best spot on my lap, my son doesn’t always love it when I hug one of the daycare kids, and my daughter sometimes tries to recreate the cute things her younger brother does. What she doesn’t understand yet is that she

  38. Jessica Kabogoza says:

    These chapters were very thought provoking. Chapter 8 spoke on the over emphasis of competition in young children versus the encouragement to foster cooperation between groups of children. I certainly agree that cooperation at such a young age is a far better use of time and emotions than competition, but I don’t think children are completely free from it, especially in the area of having my attention and affection. My own children vie for the best spot on my lap every morning, never seeming to realize they have equal spots. My son doesn’t always love it when I show affection to one of the daycare kids, and my daughter wants to be sure I think she is as cute and funny as her 2 year old brother. The book later wrote on doing your personal best and that will get you the attention you need. I definitely agree with that philosophy. If you know your doing your best you just have to have faith that the attention and recognition you need will fall into place.

    The other two chapters were about the use of play guns and pretend (supposed) violence in school. Throughout history people have used guns to hunt to survive and as a sport to practice targets. While I do agree that they can be used in violent acts, I can’t say I believe that kids who pretend with them are likely to become violent individuals. My husband and I aren’t at all comfortable with having a gun in our home, but we certainly have squirt guns floating around here and there. I know my children aren’t tempted to be violent with the squirt guns. I came from a family of gun owning hunters. My family also values life and wouldn’t hurt someone else with a gun or otherwise. It is the individual and their mental state. I’m guessing most children playing cops and robbers know the difference.

  39. Terri VanHoudt says:

    I don’t believe everything in life has to be competitive, but some competition is okay in life. Or some people would not strive to ever do any better in their life. Should competition be okay in preschool and young kids i would more than likely say not. I honestly encourage my daycare parents to hold their kids back from kindergarten till they are 6 if possible. I feel it gives them another year to be a CHILD and once they enter school the bombardment will stop and not leave until they leave this great earth.
    As far as zero tolerance i think it has gone way out of control. Preschoolers and kindergartners being kicked out for having pretend guns in their hands how many of us haven’t played that when we were young. To me everybody has became thin skinned. You cannot say, or do anything without someone taking offense to it. Not everyone wins, not everyone needs a star, not everyone can be good at Everything. Some of us fail and fail miserably! That is all there is to it, we don’t need a sticker, award or whatever they get for showing up. Real life doesn’t work that way. They will be greatly disappointed in how life really works and they don’t get the “att-a-boy’s for showing up to work.

    Just in the last 10 years i have noticed a shift in kids and the play they have 1 on 1. Maybe because right now i have 1 boy(yrs) and 1 boy (3yrs) that cannot sit down and play cars, blocks or games like that. They want to be chasing each other, playing zombies and running away from each other, or away from my 3 1 year olds. They cannot sit down with blocks and cars and make garage and drive cars around. Is this from always having mom and dad to play with or sibling or screen time i am not sure. But i do know that kids that i had that are now 9-15 years old, i never had that problem.
    So what has changed.

    They digital age is what has happened. Kids are SO much different just in the last 10 years. I cannot imagine what it will be like in the next 10! You cannot go anywhere where parents or kids don’t have their nose in the phones, tablets or tv in the vehicle. So families that do a vacation together don’t really do it together. They just do the bathroom stops or hotel stops or sight seeing stops. It is so sad, the family and togetherness they are missing out on.

  40. Anna Patnode says:

    Week 6 – 7/29/18
    Reading – Chapters 8, 9 and 29
    Hands down the most thought provoking chapters I’ve read so far! I am naturally a very competitive person, so is my husband, therefore I believe my children have also learned the competitive behavior. I also love games and activities that include cooperation and encourage teamwork often in my home and preschool classes. Both of these things coupled together I have put much thought into the competition vs cooperation discussions but I have already been flooded with ideas how I can help shift some of my favorite activities with my own children, preschool and church group. I can’t wait to implement group cooperation vs competition and start seeing all the fun of a competition with the social/emotional benefits of cooperation.

    Chapter 9 and 29 would have been very helpful to read ahead of the last school year. I had a very large group of active boys who loved to play “pretend” guns. They meant no harm but the guns always encouraged loud, rough play. I was very challenged by these chapters to think outside the box and let children be children not terrorists in their behavior. I very much appreciate Rae’s thoughts and look forward to being more flexible in the classroom and challenging parents to be more tolerant and see the benefits of imaginative play.

  41. Nallely says:

    chapter 8: the competition has its advantages and disadvantages, some schools are based on grades or averages and forget what is really learned, the boys for wanting to have a score of ten in some cases just memorize for the moment, but the question is really acquired the knowledge or the purpose that the teacher wanted for the student? .. On the other hand, society has enveloped us or dragged us into a competitive world, like “look at my son and walk and yours not” , “my daughter already writes her complete name”, she went to the bathroom for the same and not yours “, until adult life there is also the competition over who gets the best job or who has the best car. help children to play games in cooperation with other children, that instead of competing, we can guide them to work in groups.
    Chapter 9: The first education is acquired at home, with this I want you to know that the first teachers of the children are the parents, what the children see in their home is what they reflect in society, if they see violence at home , they show violence. In my opinion the fact that children imitate the use of guns does not mean that with this they are already terrorists, what I think we should do is supervise the way they do it since they might be imitating a police , that are imagining what they want to be great, now well we must also explain to children what is good and bad to do this type of game, the risks and precautions they should have.
    chapter 29: expelling a child from school does not have any benefit, since instead of helping him, what he does is lower his self-esteem, he must talk with both parents and children, to give them more help options.

  42. Liz says:

    Maybe our concern and focus should be helping children understand real and fantasy, when it comes to violent activities. I sometimes feel as a society we have become desensitized because of all the graphic information that is available to us, including our children. Helping our children to realize the gravity of some situations or monitoring exposure may be helpful. I wonder if involving our children in evening activities such as dance, gymnastics, karate etc at such a young age is part of the problem. Maybe staying home and eating a meal as a family is not such a bad thing. It would be a great time to talk about real and fantasy.

  43. Laura Borchardt says:

    I see a lot of competition between preschoolers in my classroom. The biggest competition is probably the competition for attention from the teachers. If someone is getting attention for any reason another child will copy that action to see if they can receive the same attention the other child received. They also like to compete physically or in their projects some times. We try to talk to them as much as possible about why we are giving them praise and remind them how much we appreciate them.
    We have a no gun policy in our school and I do have them throw stick guns over the fence when I see them shooting people and making kids. I think I don’t completely understand the issue and I should take more classes on the issue of children wanting to play games with toy guns or weapons.
    expelling a preschooler from school does not make any sense. We work as much as we can with the family and try to make plans for the child’s individual needs. We have had to say good bye to families in the past but ultimately it has been the families decision to leave.

  44. DeAnna Stowe says:

    Competition seems to have become the norm for many families. In fact, many parents don’t even realize it in a variety situations. Whether we are discussing sports or school grades, there always seems to be some type of comparison between children.
    Now on to the “childish behavior.” I think it’s important for a child to be able to be a child. Playing with something they worked so hard to build (such as a toy gun) and being told they can’t use it and to take it apart because we “don’t allow” guns at school, may hurt a child. Some may not even know what is wrong with their creative art piece or there might not even be any harm to it at all, but because it’s a policy for many schools, it tends to be something implemented. We do need to take in mind that if a child who has made such art pieces becomes violent and/or his language becomes violent, we as teachers will need to intervene and educate them on the do’s and don’ts of their work to help them understand the cause and effect of their creation.

  45. Judy Nelson says:

    The topics covered in chapters 8,9 and 29 gave me many topics to ponder. I have had several conversations with friends about the importance of children learning cooperation. Most agree that our government officials would benefit from the cooperation skills we teach everyday in our classrooms. I don’t think we spend time encouraging competition between children but after reading this chapter I will be more aware of this research.
    Gun play and superhero play is something we witness each day, the author’s perspective gave me a new appreciation for this type of play.
    Lastly a reminder of how important logical consequences are to young children. Helping children understand the realities of their lives is a job that is becoming ever more important. Yesterday we had a class discussion about what death is. In the age of video games many children had no idea about what “dead” meant. Punishing a child for something they don’t even realize is wrong seems obviously unproductive. Learning right from wrong is a task we should all consider an important task.

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