Alex Evans is a seven-year-old second grader at Mary Blair Elementary School in Colorado. Recently, he was suspended for throwing an imaginary grenade while pretending to “rescue the world” from “pretend evil forces."
Little Alex, it turns out, violated his school’s “absolutes” against fighting and weapons, “real or imaginary.”
So-called “zero tolerance” policies of the sort on display at Mary Blair have long been in place in public schools throughout the country. Alex’s mother said that she thought that they were “unrealistic” for kids her son’s age. She is right as far as she goes. The problem is that she doesn’t go nearly far enough.
Such policies are indeed unrealistic, yet they are unrealistic for people of all ages. Moreover, they aren’t just unrealistic. They are at once idiotic and outrageous: Rather than enable children to become responsible adults, zero tolerance policies threaten to retard this developmental process.
Boys are particularly harmed by it. Alex Evans is a case in point. Here is a seven-year-old child whose only infraction is that he possesses an imagination that is both lively and heroic. Think about it: He delights in envisioning himself as a self-sworn enemy of all that is evil, a world savior.
The kid dreams, not about harming the world, but rescuing it. He longs to be more like Superman, not Stalin.
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