One school has found that eliminating rules can actually be a good thing.
After Swanson Primary School in New Zealand got rid of rules during recess as part of a study, administrators saw a decline in rates of bullying, injuries and vandalism, as well as an increase in students’ ability to concentrate during class, according to New Zealand outlet TVNZ.
The AUT and Otago University study, which began several years ago and concluded at the end of last year, eliminated recess rules in an effort to discover ways to promote active play, according to the outlet. As a result, kids were more engaged in their activities.
"The kids were motivated, busy and engaged. In my experience, the time children get into trouble is when they are not busy, motivated and engaged. It's during that time they bully other kids, graffiti or wreck things around the school," school Principal Bruce McLachlan told the outlet.
Previously, the students were not allowed to engage in playground activities like climbing trees or riding bikes, McLauchlan told Australian radio station 720 Perth. While he says the playground is now more chaotic looking, it is also safer.
“What happens is when you let kids do anything they like is that they actually don’t go and purposefully hurt themselves,” McLauchlan said to the radio station.
Jessica Lahey of the Atlantic asked McLauchlan if he thought a similar system would hold up at an American school. He told her “probably not,” although he suggested this could change in the future.
“You also have adults that were children themselves and I haven’t met an ex-child yet who does not fondly remember adventure on their own terms. I’d say at last in New Zealand we are reaching a point where this is actually getting traction. You will in the U.S., too,” he told the Atlantic.