Barefoot Zoe with Jackie and Johnna
One thing that makes me feel happy every time I arrive at The Clearwater School is that I don't have to put on shoes to go and find my kids, and that I often see at least one or two barefoot kids right away as I walk through the parking lot.
Maddy's walking feet
Shoes are required at most schools, because many people believe that bad things would happen if students didn't wear them.
- They could be injured by broken glass or other sharp items.
- Germs could spread.
- People would sue each other.
- It must be a violation of health codes.
- Kids who are allowed to go barefoot at school won't be successful in the real world, where shoes are required.
- Bare feet are a distraction in class.
- Bare feet are indecent.
- Chaos would break out without a rule requiring shoes.
Jacy in the office
On the other hand, there is a small but growing number of people, myself included, who are convinced that none of these fears are based on reality, and instead believe that going barefoot as much as possible is actually much healthier and safer than wearing shoes. If you are interested in learning more, this website is a great place to start. And here's one specifically for parents which mentions Sudbury schools.
Reading the information about the many joys and benefits of bare feet, I would be tempted to think that if kids weren't required to wear shoes at school, none of them would. And they would all grow up happier, healthier, stronger, and safer as a result. Pretty soon the whole world would be better place.
Since shoes are not required at Clearwater, I have had the chance to find out what actually happens if kids don't have to wear shoes at school. The truth is that nothing very dramatic happens at all. In fact, most of the people choose to wear shoes most of time. I guess they want to keep their feet warm or to avoid stepping on sharp things. But I always see a few barefoot kids indoors and out, and if you see a barefoot mom walking around Clearwater, that's probably me.
Sometimes people are mildly curious, but mostly no one really cares. I've never witnessed or heard about anyone with a foot injury at Clearwater, but if someone did hurt their foot, I imagine that they would sit down for while and put a bandage or ice pack on it, just like with a scraped knee or hurt finger.
Lily rehearsing barefoot
I am always impressed by how fair and sensible the rules are at this school where kids vote on the rules. There are many rules at Clearwater, but the rules are almost never based on knee-jerk reactions to things or fear about extremely unlikely occurrences. The fact that there is no rule against bare feet is a great example of that.
The best thing about all of this, in my opinion, is that individuals are accepted and respected whether they are choosing to wear shoes at the moment or not. And we all get to see that just because something is a little bit unusual doesn't mean that it's a problem.