Schools are banning the seemingly harmless practice of students taking home teddy bears because parents are becoming too competitive over who can provide the best activities.
Research by the Times Educational Supplement reveals that the practice, in which students take home a class teddy bear for the weekend and write about what activities they did with it, has become a source of one-upmanship for parents, and competition is so intense that some schools are having to ban it.
Teachers report that some activities involved attending orchestra rehearsals, piloting ships, enjoying corporate hospitality and taking part in the Great North Run.
Conversely, some parents appeared to rebel against the showmanship of others, and instead competed to show their disinterest. One diary said: “The bear wandered aimlessly around B&Q looking at taps.”
The bears are supposed to encourage children to write about their experiences and promote links between home and school.
Times Educational Supplement editor Ann Mroz said: “The bears seem to set a ‘trap’ for many a host parent.
“Parents find themselves nosing through the bear’s diary to see what it has been up to on previous weekends and they start to judge and compare.
“We’ve seen, through online discussion boards, that some parents have been reduced to tears over having the bears for the weekend.
“Some parents work all weekend, while others struggle with the English language. It’s unfair that they should be judged harshly by other parents as a result.
“As engaging as the activity can be, parents ought to be given the chance to opt out.”