Opinion

Many important lessons learned during recess

There was no recess at elementary and middle schools in Abbotsford, as of Monday. The decision is being blamed on cost, as the district says it can no longer afford the expense associated with having management supervise recess. Teachers are not watching over students out of class time as part of their job action.

This is disturbing news to me. as my best subject in elementary school was recess. Many others, like myself, learned more on the school playground than we did in the classroom. We sharpened many skills knowing that we had only 15 minutes to make our best play or negotiate our best deals.

For example, no doubt many successful general managers or coaches of sports franchises learned their trading and bargaining skills at recess. If they had a Joe Kapp and Willie Fleming trading card, or a Ken Dryden and Guy Lafleur hockey card, or a Maris and Mantle bubble gum card, they were sitting pretty.

They learned not to let the other guy know what they had in the box in their desk, so little Pat Quinn or little Brian Burke learned to trade little Mikey Gillis their Howard Who and Norman Nobody cards for Schneider and Luongo, all in 15 minutes.

We look at our investment bankers and senators today, and wonder if they got to those positions by studying economics at major universities. More likely they were the kids at recess who were able to convince you to take their peanut butter sandwich in exchange for your ham and cheese, apple and Oh Henry bar.

They simply told you that if you gave them your lunch today, they would make it up to you by lunch on Friday. They just never said which Friday. It was an easy transition to stocks, bonds and cash, and they still never say which Friday you will be paid back.

Our military leaders lost and won many school ground battles and learned some valuable recess lessons. For instance, when the Mean Kid said he was going to thump you at recess, your buddies said they would be there to stand behind you. When they never showed up and you got a black eye, a general learned that sometimes his allies wouldn’t be there when the bullets started to fly.

Or during the snowball fight. It was always understood we were only throwing snowballs. Then unexpectedly, some jerk starts firing ice balls and it’s all over when a kid gets cut. It doesn’t take military college to teach you that your enemy may have unauthorized weapons and tactics. You learn that on the playground.

Maybe I never knuckled down in the classroom, but I learned that when you knuckled down at that marble ring you never played your best cat’s eye or steely until you saw how sharp a shooter your opponent was. That taught me to always feel out your adversary and not to play your best hand right out of the gate, if you didn’t want to lose all your marbles.

It has long been said that the mind will only absorb as much as the rear end will endure. The brain and body need fresh air to regenerate. By late afternoon the kids will be zombies.

I didn’t even get to the part about learning to talk to girls at recess. Some of us should have had a lot more practice at that.  At least that’s what McGregor says.

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