Thursday, February 19, 2015

Are bonding activities a male thing?

In thinking about all the activities children are invited to participate in, I've been pondering the place of bonding exercises. The camps and tours and parties that the groups they belong to organise in order for the members to bond.

This seems to me to be a particularly male thing. When I think of bonding activities I think of men playing soccer, or paintball, or men going drinking together and then to lapdancing clubs and brothels. This is supposed to create group cohesion for people who are already in a group working together for the same goal. Women don't seem to need bonding sessions, mostly because they don't have the time for them. If women are working together by meeting monthly to run a committee, or they work together or are on a team together, they just get on with the job. The bonding happens by doing the job together. They don't go off to the pub afterwards.

I understand why kids who enter high school from various primary schools go on camp together. They need to get to know each other. Other than that, I don't see the point of bonding exercises for teams or bands or choirs. Surely meeting weekly to do the activity together is a bonding experience in itself.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

What is the value and how do we deliver it more simply?

That's the question I'm asking this year.

I'm asking this question at meetings when someone suggests we need to run an event. I'm trying to point out that the children in our area are privileged, and parents are tired. Their regular activities fill a week. Everything extra adds to the stress of family life.  When do families have time to visit grandparents on the weekend?

What is the value of band camp, when you are transporting all the people and equipment involved to another place, which takes a lot of planning and money, and is a disruption to family life, and results in children not sleeping. Couldn't the value that comes from playing together for an intensive rehearsal period be addressed by a weekend workshop at school? What is the value of the school fete and how can we achieve good enough outcomes without exhausting a hundred people? What is the value of an overseas trip? Don't we have great teachers, and performance opportunities in Sydney?Are these extra experiences for our kids going to be on their resumes and mean the difference between getting a job and not getting a job? Not likely, when they are mostly heading to university and the opportunities listed on their resumes mostly tell a prospective employer that their parents had money.

I'm asking questions to suggest we stop the spiral of making everything bigger and better, and the unspoken expectation now that children must do everything and go everywhere before they finish school. You don't need to keep up with what other schools offer. Life is not a competition and childhood is not a race.