Thursday, August 11, 2011

A healthy Physic for our 'feral youth'

There has been an awful lot of commentary over the last few days about this strange breed of young hoodlums. So here is something from the Chelsea Physic Garden that might possibly point a way forward.

The Physic Garden has to the country's least flashy great garden. It is a working garden and as such is not replete with great blooms, but concentrates on the medicinal often poisonous and largely humdrum. It is a fascinating place and I can only advise a visit.

When you arrive (if you come with a child in tow) they will hand you a pice of A4 paper headed,
Adults with Children
Reading what it says makes me think that there are ways to help solve our problems. If this institution can take such a sensible line, then others can do so to.

It goes on,
"If you do not feel you can abide by these rules please do not visit the garden"
The rules,

  • Children must be closely supervised at all times. This means within physical reach not just within sight for children under 8.
  • Scooters, bikes, buggies etc, must be left, at the owners own risk, behind the entry kiosk, or carried.
  • Strictly no running.
  • Strictly no bare feet, shoes must be worn at all times.
  • No gravel to be thrown or deliberately unsettled
  • No pond 'dipping', collecting tadpoles, removing or disturbing plant or wildlife in the two ponds.
  • No climbing on any part of the Pond Rockery
  • No climbing trees
  • No ball games
  • Children must be kept away from the edges of the pond rockery and water tank
  • No plant stuff may be picked up from the garden including fruit, flowers, cones,twigs, branches, leaves, seeds etc
  • No walking on, or disturbance of, any plant beds whether they appear planted or not. If a child is found by a Garden member of staff or volunteer trampling on a plant bed, their group will be asked to leave the garden immediately.
Don't get the idea they don't like children. They have an excellent outreach program and have essentially been an educational establishment for 350 years.

Where they differ from so much of the modern world is that they regard themselves as serious, and see no need to dumb down or kow-tow to the prevailing winds of kiddy friendly non-judgementalism that so bedevils most of our institutions (been to the Science Museum recently? I rest my case).

As they point out,
"You are welcome to bring children to the Garden if they are with you at all times. They are not allowed to wander off on their own. If you think the children in your charge are in a boisterous mood we recommend you visit on another day".
One rather fine thing about this, since they have produced this little aide memoire to responsible parenting all the vile and ugly safety signage that disfigured the garden has been taken down.

No comments: