Toilet Roll Safety
My eldest daughter has just graduated and has her first teaching work. So, we talk a lot about teaching, learning, curriculum, hidden curriculum, scaffolding, conversion, child development, psychology of learning, ethics, the politics of schooling and curriculum ideas.
Last week we were sharing ideas about art and craft and I mentioned a good way of making puppets I had used in the 1970s then when I mentioned the use of toilet rolls I was interrupted. ‘Dad, you can’t use toilet rolls, it’s a safety issue’! I was dumbfounded, the toxin of hyper-safety has no bounds.
So I asked her to explain three things: the rationale of the risk, the harm that would result and the legislative requirement to act. ‘It’s just the school’s policy’, and that was it. Ah, the politics of schooling.
So, I chased up the issue and found that in the UK some nut jobs had suggested that toilet rolls could spread disease (https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4072028/Schools-ban-toilet-roll-tubes-craft-lessons-fears-spread-disease.html). Unbelievable! Apparently egg boxes are also unsafe!
Meanwhile, the scourge of hyper-safety is actually making our kids less resilient, more fragile, less focused on fun, less able to learning, less creative and more fixated on disease. Further see Taleb Anti Fragility and Tim Gill No Fear, Rethinking Childhood (https://rethinkingchildhood.com/no-fear/). Apparently the word association between the word ‘toilet’ and ‘disease’ is unsafe for kids!
Strange, the research (Dr Karl Kruszelnicki Great Myth Conceptions) shows that toilets are indeed much more safe than many other places because we clean them more often. This is the logic of homeostasis, but not many know about that. It is why risk aversion is a toxin for human development. Risk Makes Sense (https://www.humandymensions.com/product/risk-makes-sense/ ).
So, naivety, ignorance and plain dumb down fuel hyper-safety and our kids miss out on the fun, creativity and building up resilience. Instead, lets send them to screens and make them obese, that much more safe! (https://www.healthykids.nsw.gov.au/stats-research/overweight-and-obesity.aspx) It’s only zero harm if you can count it immediately!
There are fortunately some who apply critical thinking to the nonsense of hyper-safety (https://www.news.com.au/finance/business/other-industries/these-ridiculous-rules-are-ruining-childhood/news-story/e718174da8540a4cba239e81730b282c) but it doesn’t make a difference. Once something is locked in policy it becomes nearly impossible to remove. Sense goes out the window once something is made a compliance issue, regardless if it is non-sense. When safety is politicized, a certain class of people are empowered. That is what this is all about. Once politicized, dumb down safety becomes a disobedience issue and critical thinking is interpreted as disobedience and non-compliance.
Of course when the grandkids come around home we play with all these unsafe things and we have a ball. Their learning accelerates and resilience increases as they play creatively outside, climb trees, make cubby houses out of sticks, tape and nail together old bits of stuff, use hammers, cut things and go into the chook shed amongst the poo and dirt and collect the eggs. What an irresponsible grandparent I must be. If you want to find out more about hyper-safety read Amalberti (https://www.health.org.uk/newsletter-feature/shift-thinking-about-safety). Goodness me, some even think that hyper-safety is a good thing! (http://www.hypersafe.com.au/new/).
This is what you reap if you sow the nonsense ideology of zero harm in a society. Unfortunately for the safety crusaders hyper-safety is neither possible nor desirable.
We all know how damaging helicopter parenting is (http://dergipark.gov.tr/download/article-file/286817). However, no amount of research or rational argument can shift this fear we have been fed by the lovers of hyper-safety. Hyper-safety is a mental health condition, somewhat like Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. The best way to educate kids and help them grow up is to help them engage in the real world of randomness, bumps and uncertainty. The ideology of zero is a scourge on society.
Rob Long says
Having taught all grades from 2-12 I can tell you there is much much more risk in all sorts of areas than cardboard toilet rolls. You can’t police kids to wash hands, you can scrutinize lunches, you can’t have surveillance, watch them on every activity, see around corners on everything because places of learning need to involve trust not policing.
This is the nonsense of hyper-safety, panicked about PPE and no idea about psychological harm, ballistic about petty risk and out of touch with Real Risk.
Unfortunately, what this kind of stuff does is make people blind to much more significant risks in schools. We don’t need any more dumb down checklist thinking and need to be a hell of a lot smarter about Due Diligence.
Matthew Thorne says
Don’t humans carry more disease?
Most people they ignorance safety thus why diseases around us each and every day especially in the toilet.
Rob Long says
Well said David. I have observed the safety industry has been working for years to make schools and teachers fearful about their responsibilities, makes for a sucker revenue stream. Whilst safety is fixated on the Act and knows bugger all about learning, teachers are fixated on learning and do nothing on the Act. Trouble is, they trust the WHS crusaders too much about regulation when most of what the fear is about is irrational and is not in the regulation. Teachers are far better educated than safety people, with a much broader education degree, I don’t know why they would let this silly stuff seduce them when most of what is being thrown at them is simply ignorance dressed as fear. Any investigation about Due Diligence would tell you that half the stuff teachers are made to be afraid of is nonsense. Hey yes, but that’s what safety does best – fear! Safety needs to take an Asprin and have a good lie down, then do some research (which they are not trained to do) and learn about the education system. Amazing how safety makes one qualified to talk across disciplines one knows nothing about. Whilst Safety is anxious about PPE, bollards and minutia, the average teacher carries the most amazing risks with children every day, way beyond the crap of toilet rolls.
If you offered the school a bag full of cash they certainly wouldn’t knock that back for safety reasons – imagine where that cash could have been
Andrew Floyd says
Rob Long says
There’s no greater love than experiencing the learning development and fun of unstructured play with grandchildren.
Rob Long says
Thanks Charles, as a Mum of 2 growing children she has already observed many aspects of child development. A great way of knowing before entering teaching. I think mature age education and learning has a lot going for it. I would always advise a person to get lots of work and diverse discipline experience before entering safety.
Agree with you 100% and also pretty much do the same thing when the grandkids visit.
Its great your daughter now has such an opportunity to learn I am sure the children will provide her with a better level of education than was previously available