An Old Chestnut

12 March 2013

The Health and Safety Executive website has some wonderful myths it debunks, along the lines of the story about charity shops not being allowed to sell knitting needles anymore, which I mentioned the other day.

I also remember when the UK papers were bemoaning the fact that children could no longer play conkers in the playground.  Generations of British children had played conkers and here were these ridiculous bureaucrats banning it in case one of the little darlings was hurt.

This is what the HSE says about this:

Myth:  Kids must wear goggles to play conkers.


This is one of the oldest chestnuts around, a truly classic myth. A well-meaning head teacher decided children should wear safety goggles to play conkers. Subsequently some schools appear to have banned conkers on ‘health & safety’ grounds or made children wear goggles, or even padded gloves!

Realistically the risk from playing conkers is incredibly low and just not worth bothering about. If kids deliberately hit each other over the head with conkers, that’s a discipline issue, not health and safety.

What isn’t mentioned here is that the HSE started its own conkers team as a result of all the furore surrounding this myth.


  1. what are conkers? Nevermind… I should probably go and google it 🙂

    However there was an awesome documentary (Can’t remember the name) done by the BBC aired here on the ABC about “helicopter” parenting, kids needing play time (not scheduled activity time), and “dangerous” playgrounds being better for kids than the bubble-wrapped and cotton-woolled ones appearing now. Appears kids need to be able to make mistakes to learn from them.

  2. Okay- this one didn’t make it to the colonies…..I had to google it.

  3. I had to go find out what “conkers” meant as well. This website offered some good basics and has a “Conkers around the world” page (although Australia is not currently represented!). 😉

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