Education

U.K. School Bans Students from Touching Snow

Children play in the snow in Newcastle-under-Lyme, England, December 11, 2017. (Carl Recine/Reuters)
Snow is apparently a dangerous substance.

The headmaster of a school in Britain has forbidden his students even to touch snow.

“It only takes one student, one piece of grit, one stone in a snowball in an eye, with an injury and we change our view,” said Ges Smith, the headmaster at Jo Richardson Community School, according to an article in the Telegraph.

“The rules are don’t touch the snow,” he continued. “If you don’t touch the snow you’re not going to throw it.”

In addition to potential injuries from snowballs, Smith is apparently also concerned that the snow might get students wet — which might interfere with their studies.

This is obviously insane. Getting to play with snow at recess was probably one of the best things about growing up in Michigan, and it’s sad that these kids won’t get to have that experience because of this headmaster.

I suppose I could understand the concern about injuries from snowballs — although I must say that I myself have been in many snowball fights, and am somehow still alive — but then why not just ban snowball fights specifically? That at least makes a moderate amount of sense.

The rule as it stands, though, seems pretty much impossible to follow. How are you going to go outside and not touch the snow? What if the snow touches you, are you still in trouble? I have so many questions.

As for his concerns about getting wet, there are plenty of ways around that, too. For example: If you’re wearing gloves, a coat, and snow pants, you’re could actually roll around in the snow and still stay dry. In any case, getting too wet to be able to concentrate in class isn’t something that would happen from simply touching the snow with your hand.

Smith apparently called this a “duty of care issue,” but I’d say that it’s making an issue where none exists. Kids play in snow, it’s what they do. They’ve been doing it for ages, and pretty much everyone has wound up just fine. This kind of infantilization isn’t helping anyone, but it may hurt. After all, if a kid comes out of school without knowing how to handle being in the snow, he’s probably going to have a pretty tough time. I say let kids be kids — snow-touching and all.

(This story was previously covered in an article in Reason.)