Asumag 2531 Susan 2013v4

Editor's Focus: The Mask of Change

June 1, 2013
Embracing change in education institutions.

My daughter has played machine-pitch baseball for a couple of years on a coed team. Both years, she was one of two girls on the team—she was outnumbered, but it was fun for her to throw harder than the boys. This year, though, at the ripe old age of 7, it was time to make the transition to softball and an all-girls team. If she sticks with the sport, she needs to be with her female peers, right? 

Evidently, the rules and etiquette are a little different for the girls. The first thing I noticed is that they have to wear batting helmets with masks. Aren’t those just for catchers? Another thing: all of the head coaches are women. 

And one night, while watching the older girls play on a different field, I noticed that many girls in the field were wearing face masks. Face masks? I found myself thinking back to the old days when I used to play. We didn’t have face masks. A ball to the face and its accompanying bruise were like a prized war wound. How delicate are these girls?

I had to catch myself. It’s a bad habit we all fall into sometimes, thinking that because it was different when we were younger, that kids should be treated the exact same way. In my day, girls didn’t wear face masks either to bat or in the field.

In my day, I walked to school—through a college campus, no less. My elementary school was open to the public—it ran events such as church meetings and card parties during school hours. We talked to strangers! (They weren’t strangers if they had business at the school, right?) 

In my day, we had never heard of a code red drill, which at many schools today is as normal as the fire and tornado drills. It’s part of a new routine, and kids should be prepared for this type of emergency, whether we want to consider these scenarios or not. 

On a similar note, I often hear people saying that kids don’t necessarily need a new gymnasium or an updated media center or their own laptops ... after all, we made it just fine without those things, right? 

But why deny opportunities if they are available? Seeing children thrive in healthful buildings with ergonomic furnishings, thoughtful design and proper security measures should be what we want for the kids in all of our school districts and on all of our campuses.

In my day ... well, these are different days. I’m excited to see how things will continue to change.

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