08 April, 2008

WTF?!

S and B's school is part of a greater complex that includes all grades up through high school. The campus doesn't have a gate around the perimeter which means that students can enter school grounds at any time day or night. Consequently it's covered in broken beer bottles-- shards of glass cover the playgrounds and litter the steps.

Last week one of S's classmates fell on a broken bottle and cut his hand so badly it warranted a trip to the hospital, stitches and a cast all the way up to his elbow.

The solution for the glass problem? The school has now passed the responsibility for cleanup off on the children in the lower grades. ??? My first grader has spent the last two recess periods picking up glass shards, cigarette butts and other garbage. He isn't wearing gloves, and although he swears he's using tongs I can totally see a scenario in which he picks up the shard first, puts it in the tongs with his fingers and then tosses it into the garbage cans.

I'm all for community action but am having a hard time understanding why this is considered a reasonable solution to the problem...

9 comments:

Goofball said...

hmm in Belgium it's quite normal that each class in elementary school takes turns in cleaning up the playground...being an enclosed playground usually where the litter comes from the children itself (their snack papers , drink cartons and stuff like that). Then it's quite justified to make them feel how much litter they create .

...but glass? :(

Betsy said...

I totally agree with you-- I'm all for instilling a sense of responsibility: if the kids leave their snack things outside they should go out and pick them up.

But the responsibility for cleaning up glass and cigarette butts should not be pushed off on first graders. It is not safe for them to be handling glass and they are too young to be trusted to clean it all up properly, so there will inevitably be glass shards left over for other children to fall on.

I get angry about the whole situation all over again every time I think about it!

I miss our old school in Flanders. It was small and friendly and safe and the curriculum was excellent. Luckily S and B have gotten great teachers this year, but otherwise my opinion of the German school system so far doesn't amount to much...

G in Berlin said...

I would forbid my child from participating in the clean up of either glass or cigarette pots. The first is dangerous, the second is both toxic and capable of soreading disease, up to and including hepatiyis C, whichis incurable. You might want to point that out while you are providing the school, in writing, with notice that your child is not to participate.
Btw, I have no problem with making children pick up their own waste, such as chps bags. But this is beyond the pale.

anno said...

This is unbelievable. I'm all for following G's excellent advice. Good luck dealing with the German bureaucrats. I take it that Germany does not suffer from the litigious environment of most American communities?

Greg said...

I think they should at least give the kids some beers to drink if they are going to require all of that work from them! :)(or, maybe not )

Betsy said...

Actually they'd probably cut corners on that too.

There's probably some beer left in a few of the unbroken bottles, though. Maybe they could just drink that...

R. Duckie said...

Huh? And I suppose it's going to build character?

Africakid said...

Is there a good reason they're not building a fence? Huh...seems like a strange plan to have the little guys do the dangerous work.

Gardner said...

nice restraint on title. I knew it was serious though, so that was good.

You probably know this already, but make a huge stink with the PTA [insert long german name for PTA], and get other parents to do the same.

Only Pressure, and lots of it, brings change in the German school systems. We've had some issues, and all the Germans I've talked to have said this.

It's kind of like a known cultural thing, that I as an American didn't know.