8 June 2009

Nuts/Not Nuts.

H/T LarryD

Hard to believe the same country produced both of these.


I won't comment on this one. Rather, to quote Yul Brynner/Ramses: Let him rant that all men may know he is mad.

From TheDailyMailOnline: Bonkers' Health and Safety Rules See Swimming Goggles Banned for School Pupils

Ban on pupils wearing swimming goggles over health and safety fears they might 'snap' too hard on their face

A school has banned children from wearing goggles during swimming lessons - for fear they could hurt themselves while wearing them.

Youngsters were told they were no longer allowed to wear the swimming aides in case a pair 'snapped' onto their face too hard, or a lens popped out unexpectedly.

Parents described the ruling by teachers and governors at Ysgol Bryn Coch, Mold, as 'bonkers', and said it smacked of 'health and safety regulations gone mad'

Three children have so far been withdrawn from swimming lessons because of the new rule, which has affected 335 junior pupils.

But headteacher Lynne Williams insisted the school was following advice from the British Association of Advisors and Lecturers in Physical Education (BAALPE).

Ms Williams said: 'It has been recognised by BAALPE that goggles can pose a real risk to children, and this has been accepted by the governors.'

The BAALPE advice states: 'Head teachers should inform parents and carers that goggles can be a hazard and cause permanent eye injury.

'Wet plastic is very slippery and frequent, incorrect or unnecessary adjustment or removal of them, by pulling them away from the eyes instead of sliding them over the forehead, can lead to them slipping from the pupil's grasp with the hard plastic causing severe injury.'

One parent said the school had told parents in a letter goggles could only be used if they were necessary on medical grounds.

She said: 'I think the ruling is absolutely bonkers.'

Another asked why councils allow children to wear them in public swimming pools if they were so dangerous.

'In my opinion it's health and safety regulations gone mad,' the mother said.

A spokesman for Flintshire County Council said: 'The school can advise parents on the use of goggles during school swimming lessons.

'There is a legal responsibility for school governors, headteachers and teaching staff to ensure that the LEA's health and safety policy is followed, and that advice and guidance on matters such as swimming and the use of goggles are applied and monitored regularly by schools.

'The BAALPE guidelines are consistent with those of the Amateur Swimming Association.'

The association guidelines say goggles only need to be worn by children who suffer excessively from the effects of water chemicals.

They advise pupils should be taught to remove goggles by: 'slipping them up off the head rather than by stretching away from the eyes on the retaining band'

My only comment on this is to say that I applaud the newspaper for bringing out this story, and they are clearly presenting this as insane. Now onto the next part of our program:

Not Nuts

A refutation of the above nonsense has been given a few years ago by Conn Iggulden, author of The Dangerous Book for Boys, in an interview given about the success of that book. Again, I'll let him speak for himself, except this time it is so that all may know him to be sane.

Conn and Hal Iggulden are two brothers who have not forgotten what it was like to be boys. Conn taught for many years before becoming one of the most admired and popular young historical novelists with his Emperor series, based on the life of Julius Caesar, and his newly embarked series on Genghis Khan, while Hal is a theater director. We asked Conn about their collaboration.

Amazon.com: It's difficult to describe what a phenomenon The Dangerous Book for Boys was in the UK last year. When I would check the bestseller list on our sister site, Amazon.co.uk, there would be, along with your book, which spent much of the year at the top of the list, a half-dozen apparent knockoff books of similar boy knowledge. Clearly, you tapped into something big. What do you think it was?

Iggulden: In a word, fathers. I am one myself and I think we've become aware that the whole "health and safety" overprotective culture isn't doing our sons any favors. Boys need to learn about risk. They need to fall off things occasionally, or—and this is the important bit—they'll take worse risks on their own. If we do away with challenging playgrounds and cancel school trips for fear of being sued, we don't end up with safer boys—we end up with them walking on train tracks. In the long run, it's not safe at all to keep our boys in the house with a Playstation. It's not good for their health or their safety. You only have to push a boy on a swing to see how much enjoys the thrill of danger. It's hard-wired. Remove any opportunity to test his courage and they'll find ways to test themselves that will be seriously dangerous for everyone around them. I think of it like playing the lottery—someone has to say "Look, you won't win—and your children won't be hurt. Relax. It won't be you." I think that's the core of the book's success. It isn't just a collection of things to do. The heroic stories alone are something we haven't had for too long. It isn't about climbing Everest, but it is an attitude, a philosophy for fathers and sons. Our institutions are too wrapped up in terror over being sued—so we have to do things with them ourselves. This book isn't a bad place to start. As for knockoff books—great. They'll give my son something to read that doesn't involve him learning a dull moral lesson of some kind—just enjoying an adventure or learning skills and crafts so that he has a feeling of competence and confidence—just as we have.

Amazon.com: You made some changes for the U.S. edition, and I for one am sorry that you have removed the section on conkers, if only because it's such a lovely and mysterious word. What are (or what is) conkers?

Iggulden: Horse chestnuts strung on a shoelace and knocked against one another until they shatter. In the entire history of the world, no one has ever been hurt by a conker, but it's still been banned by some British schools, just in case. Another school banned paper airplanes. Honestly, it's enough to make you weep, if I did that sort of thing, which I try not to. Reading Jane Austen is still allowed, however.

Amazon.com: What knowledge did you decide was important to add for American boys? I notice in both editions you have an excellent and useful section on table football, as played with coins. Is paper football strictly an American pastime? I'm not sure I could have gotten through the fourth grade without it.

Iggulden: I like knowing the details of battles, so Gettysburg and the Alamo had to go in, along with the Gettysburg address, stickball, state capitals, U.S. mountains, American trees, insects, U.S. historical timelines, and a lot of others. Navajo code talkers of WWII is a great chapter. It probably helps that I am a huge fan of America. It was only while rewriting for the U.S. that I realized how many positive references there already are. You have NASA and NASA trumps almost anything. As for paper football, ever since I thought of putting the book together, people keep saying things like "You have rockets in there, yes? Everyone loves rockets!" Paper football is the first American one, but there will be many others. No book in the world is long enough to put them all in—unless we do a sequel, of course.

Amazon.com: Do you think The Dangerous Book for Boys is being read by actual boys, or only by nostalgic adults? Have you seen boys getting up from their Xboxes to go outside and perform first aid or tan animal skins or build go-carts?

Iggulden: I've had a lot of emails and letters from boys who loved the book—as well as fathers. I've had responses from kids as young as ten and an old man of 87, who pointed out a problem with the shadow stick that we've since changed. The thing to remember is that we may be older and more cynical every year, but boys simply aren't. If they are given the chance to make a go-cart with their dad, they jump at it. Mine did. Nothing gives me more pleasure than to know the book is being used with fathers and sons together, trying things out. Nothing is more valuable to a boy than time with his dad, learning something fun—or something difficult. That's part of the attitude too. If it's hard, you don't make it easy, you grab it by the throat and hang on for as long as it takes. The book is often bought by fathers, of course. Their sons don't know Scott of the Antarctic is a great adventure story. How could they if it isn't taught any more? Good, heroic stories don't appear much in modern school curriculums—and then we wonder why boys don't seem interested.

Amazon.com: And finally, on to the important questions: Should Pluto still be a planet? And what was the best dinosaur?

Iggulden: Pluto is a planet. I know there are scientists who say it isn't, but it's big enough to be round and it has a moon, for crying out loud. Of course it's a planet. Give it ten years and they'll be agreeing with me again. As for the best dinosaur, it depends what you mean by best. For sheer perfection, it probably has to be the shark and the crocodile. Modern ones are smaller but their record for sheer survival is pretty impressive. I only hope humanity can do as well. The only thing that will stop us is worrying too much.

There have it: Nuts and Not Nuts. Can you see the difference?

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