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Hugging banned, education irrelevant

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What do you do when you are a school principal or teacher and you have a child that will not conform to the rules of the school or a particular lesson being taught? What do you do when that child threatens to derail the culture that you are trying to create or preserve? Do you flex and accommodate every need of the child, or do you coerce the child into complying with your rules so that order can be maintained and learning (or the pretense of learning) can continue?

Most schools will not sacrifice the progress of the class for an individual student’s needs. And most schools will not sacrifice their control over the students for the benefit of progress. The way they enforce such control is through intimidation and coercion. They make up arbitrary rules which we have come to accept as reasonable for children. The first thing most children learn in school is to not speak unless spoken to. Soon after they learn to not get out of their seat unless given permission to, that bathroom breaks only come in between class periods, and that they are to respond to whistles and bells.

The arbitrary, and often ridiculous, controls on the children do not let up much as the children get older. There is no walking in the hallways without a hallway pass. No talking at lunch. No putting crayons in your mouth, or more broadly, no being autistic. No posting messages on the walls. And, no saying “God Bless You” when someone sneezes.

The most recent example of the ridiculous comes from New Jersey where a principal banned hugging. The principal reasoned that because hugging can be inappropriate, it needed to be controlled. Then, perhaps realizing how absurd his argument was (speech can be inappropriate, should it be banned?), he threw in a reference about keeping students focused on academics.

The reality is that coercion is not needed to educate. Education is natural, and will occur with or without schooling. Coercion is necessary for classroom management, and classroom management is necessary when you need to keep kids in a box and push information on them. Teachers have a difficult job in that they must try to balance the need to manage their classrooms and educate their students. Sadly, classroom management will always take priority over education, and that is because classrooms inhibit education and schools get paid by the state for filling classrooms, not educating children.

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3 Responses to " Hugging banned, education irrelevant "

  1. Kjerstin says:

    Wow… Talking can be inappropriate. Should we ban that, too? Interesting perspective.

  2. David Mathis says:

    Yeah, I agree on one level with the message here.

    Something else I have noticed, with my Daughter who is six and in public schools, is that her teacher may be impressing specific political views upon the children. She came home from school a couple of times and told us that people should be voting for Obama. I asked her if she was taught this at school and she said “yes”. This bothered me.

    While I think home schooling may currently be a better option than public schools, there is something more fundamental going on that needs to be addressed if humanity is to evolve forward, IMO. Right now I see a world wide culture of fear and ignorance, especially here in the US. We need to move into a new era of caring and loving each other, an era where we throw away the fear and focus on caring for each other, unconditionally. If we can collectively find this mentality, we as humans might do away with the need for money and all but the most basic moral rules and prosper while having a phenomenal public education.

    Unfortunately it’s obvious that we are dealing with mass ignorance and fear that seems to be intentionally designed to keep things how they are, people in fear, so that they can be controlled for profit. There needs to be a mass grass roots effort to provide alternate education that teaches awareness and reasoning so that we can get people to a point that overcomes the fear based nonsense that’s hindering human progress, which may destroy us if we are not careful.

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