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Author Topic: No high-fiving allowed in Virginia public school
El JT de Spang
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AP Article
quote:
VIENNA, Va. - A rule against physical contact at a Fairfax County middle school is so strict that students can be sent to the principal's office for hugging, holding hands or even high-fiving.

Unlike some schools in the Washington area, which ban fighting or inappropriate touching, Kilmer Middle School in Vienna bans all touching — and that has some parents lobbying for a change.

On the plus side, no one there will have to worry about cancer.

On the minus side, how in the heck are you supposed to go through the day without physical contact. I couldn't have gotten from one class to another in junior high without at least bumping into a person or two.

I know the idea is to stem any contact so that you don't have to worry about conflicts escalating to violence, but this seems like massive overkill.

+1 homeschooling.

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Lisa
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I don't get the comment about cancer.
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Miro
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Did they ban all sports, too?

Middle/junior high schools are as much about learning to interact with people as they are about the subject matter taught. Does banning all touching really give kids the chances to learn proper behaviors? Kids can get hurt by words, too, or by body language. What form of human interaction should we ban next?

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Lyrhawn
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Has there been a rash of unwanted school huggging lately that I don't know about?
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The Pixiest
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*hugs you all*

I'm SUCH an outlaw.

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Blayne Bradley
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first we get all the kids to dress alike, and then talk alike and finally the master plan is to get them to think alike. Oh wait I remember watching some newsreels back in the 1930's about something exactly like this it was kinda hard to understand as the narration was in German! - George Carlin.
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ricree101
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Well, Godwin sure showed up early here.

Edit: Thanks for the correction Mr.Funny.

[ June 19, 2007, 07:18 PM: Message edited by: ricree101 ]

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mr_porteiro_head
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I've been saying for years that high fives cause cancer. Apparently, JT has been listening.

*nods sagely*

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Tante Shvester
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When I was in middle school (except it was called "Junior High") high-fiving wasn't the thing to do. There was considerable necking in the halls between classes, though. I don't think that there was any rule against it, although the teachers and administrators would likely make snide comments about shipping off to war, or getting a room.

[Wave] <-- high five

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Javert
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quote:
Originally posted by Tante Shvester:
There was considerable necking in the halls between classes, though.

[derail]

Whenever someone uses the term 'necking', I picture two people randomly rubbing their necks against each other.

Am I the only one?

[/derail]

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Enigmatic
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Well, you're not the only one NOW. Thanks a lot for that mental image. [Razz]

--Enigmatic

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Tara
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This is crazy... The US is already a lot more touchy -feely than other countries, and now we have this...Wow.
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El JT de Spang
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quote:
Originally posted by mr_porteiro_head:
I've been saying for years that high fives cause cancer. Apparently, JT has been listening.

*nods sagely*

Listening but not heeding. I high-five like I'm gonna win something if I keep doing it.
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ketchupqueen
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*mental five*

[/TheTodd]

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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
Originally posted by Tara:
This is crazy... The US is already a lot more touchy -feely than other countries, and now we have this...Wow.

We are? Except for Japan, most of my exposure to other cultures has made uncomfortable because they were more touch-feely than I was used to.
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Mr.Funny
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quote:
Originally posted by ricree101:
Well, Goodwin sure showed up early here.

Psst. It's Godwin's Law, not Goodwin's law.
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docmagik
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I think Tara meant less touchy feely. You can kind of tell from the rest of the post.

They did a study where they watched American high school kids for three hours and French high school kids for three hours. They found American high school kids touched about 2 1/2 times in the 3 hours. Less than once an hour. The French kids? More than a hundred.

Americans have the whole touch thing all screwed up. We can't tell the difference between friendly and sexual affection, we get all hyped up if two men hold hands, fathers are afraid or embarrased to hug their own children--we've got this touch thing really, really screwed up.

This rule really, really bothers me.

I've read a lot about touch deprivation, and I think it's more serious than anybody wants to admit. Not just in infants, for whom we know it can be fatal, but for anybody.

Ostensibly, part of the reason they're doing this is because of worries over Gang stuff that can be exchanged through handshakes.

Give me a break. Talk about treating a symptom instead of a cause. Isolated, lonely kids who want a sense of belonging join gangs--we're going to solve that problem by never letting anybody touch anybody else?

It's already ridiculous that workplaces have decided that any form of touch is inherently sexual, and pretty much have instituted hands-off policies in all but the most official circumstances (maybe I'll shake your hand once when I hire you or when you've agreed to buy something from me). Those are adults.

But these are kids. They're still forming their emotional selves, still trying to find their place in the world.

They're already confused enough about the differences between sexual and non sexual affection, already craving attention from every side and trying to decide what the world around them thinks of them (and, consequently, what they should think of the world).

Now let's just isolate and suppress them even further, cut them off from yet another form of contact and interaction with the world around them, and then let's just sit back and see what it does to them.

Wonderful social experiment.

I'm glad it's being paid for by my tax dollars.

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Hitoshi
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quote:
Originally posted by Javert:
quote:
Originally posted by Tante Shvester:
There was considerable necking in the halls between classes, though.

[derail]

Whenever someone uses the term 'necking', I picture two people randomly rubbing their necks against each other.

Am I the only one?

[/derail]

[ROFL]

This is especially hilarious because that's what immediately popped into my mind when I first heard it, and still continues to throw me every once in a while!

At any rate, this is yet another bone-headed attempt to address a problem through an ineffective and "what the hell were they thinking?" rule. I'm all for limiting school violence, but this is just silly.

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Valentine014
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Javert, you aren't the only one. Actually, when I was 16 I was telling my parents something and to clarify, they said, "Oh, so you were necking?" I was baffled. I scoffed and said, "Uh, no we were just kissing." They burst out laughing. It was the first time I had ever heard that term used. I'm not even sure what I thought they meant but I was sure we weren't doing that.
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El JT de Spang
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quote:
Originally posted by Mr.Funny:
quote:
Originally posted by ricree101:
Well, Goodwin sure showed up early here.

Psst. It's Godwin's Law, not Goodwin's law.
And what happened earlier isn't Godwin's law. Invoking Germany isn't the trigger -- it's the mention of Hitler that does it (usually as a comparison).

For example, if I were to come into the thread and post this:

You know, Hitler used to high-five.

that would fit the bill.

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mr_porteiro_head
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I've got to disagree. Comparing somebody to or inferring that they are like Nazis falls well within the expanded Godwin umbrella.
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Sterling
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Well, I hope they can still beat the stuffing out of each other on the sports field... [Roll Eyes]
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Artemisia Tridentata
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When I was in High School, the Adams boy was suspended for holding feet with his girlfriend under the table in biology class. That's not even necking.
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mr_porteiro_head
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In regards to touchy-feeliness:

French:Americans :: Americans:Porteiro

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rollainm
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quote:
Originally posted by ketchupqueen:
*mental five*

[/TheTodd]

[ROFL]
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Kwea
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I thought the Carlin quote was funny, myself.
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Liz B
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I'm gonna disagree with this thread.

I read the article. The school is not being draconian. The school is trying to deal with the fact that what overcrowded middle schools seem to need is a constant subliminal message (or what the heck, put it on the PA) saying "KEEP YOUR HANDS TO YOURSELF. KEEP YOUR HANDS TO YOURSELF. KEEP YOUR HANDS TO YOURSELF. THAT IS NOT YOUR PENCIL. GIVE IT BACK. NO NOOGIES ALLOWED IN SCHOOL. DO NOT TRIP YOUR FRIENDS. POKING IS ANNOYING AND WILL MAKE PEOPLE HIT YOU."

The kid in question was not high-fiving his girlfriend, he was hugging her. That's PDA, and the school doesn't have to allow it during school, not matter how "nice" hugging may seem. (And the point about girls NOT wanting to be hugged but being uncomfortable about saying that to boys is absolutely valid.) According to the article, they don't punish kids for not following the policy, they tell them to follow it, and if a kid repeatedly ignores the instructions, then they deal with it. (No one in the article got in trouble for high-fiving, for example. Even the kid who was interviewed didn't get in trouble. He was just told to not hug his girlfriend.)

Now, it just so happens that this article showed up on Hatrack on the last day of school, when I've been trying very hard to keep a bunch of middle school boys from doing stupid things long enough to get them on the bus and HOME for the summer, where their parents can let them poke and trip and play monkey in the middle with each others' hats and generally goof around. (It's usually safer when you're dealing with fewer than 600 middle school boys at a time.) [Smile] But it's been a long June, and I completely sympathize with school policy that tries to keep kids SAFE by curbing their natural instincts to annoy each other.

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Leroy
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quote:
Originally posted by docmagik:
They did a study where they watched American high school kids for three hours and French high school kids for three hours. They found American high school kids touched about 2 1/2 times in the 3 hours. Less than once an hour. The French kids? More than a hundred.

I remember hearing about the same study, and, what I found interesting was that they also tracked how many times the teens exhibited "self-stimulating" behaviour (like playing with their hair or jewelry--anything that would replace touch from another person). The Americans were far higher in that category. They were so deprived of touch from others that they simulated it.
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NotMe
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Liz - American middle schools might be sending subliminal messages, but I don't think it is "keep your hands to yourself". Based on my experiences (12-minute lunch, detention if somebody talks to you when the class is walking down the the hall, mandatory volunteer work, and a general disregard for quality of education) I'd say the message is more like this:

"You are being locked up until puberty is over. Do not attempt to have a childhood."

Actually, when you stop and think about it, the worst thing about the middle school environment is that you don't feel safe or allowed to form true friendships. By that age, most kids are far less willing to invite a classmate over to his house after school, particularly for a sleep-over. When switching from elementary school to middle school, the amount of time available for socializing with classmates drops sharply. The end result seems to be that kids don't get to learn any more about each other's personalities than the teachers do. This isn't enough to form a deep friendship - the kind where you can be completely at ease around your peers.

That isn't necessarily the school's fault, but it can't have gone unnoticed.

[ June 19, 2007, 10:49 PM: Message edited by: NotMe ]

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docmagik
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Liz, thanks for what you're doing. I always say that when the world comes to its senses the people who work with our kids will make more money than our stockbrokers.

I know that what you're doing is hard.

What I submit to you is that the reason why this is what the school is resorting to is not the school's fault. The problem is that all the school is allowed to do is make rules. That's the only way they have to deal with problems. They're not allowed to deal with the actual causes of problems, they're not allowed to deal with actual issues the kids are going through and try to help kids work them out, because whatever method for doing that they tried would be "imposing morality" of one sort or another on the kids.

Now don't get me wrong. I agree with that. I'm terrified of what kinds of morality schools would try to impose on my kids if it was allowed.

That's the problem with public schools. Because they, by nature, can't impose one specific ideology, they can't really get down into the nuts and bolts of some of these things.

That leaves them with very few options.

Of course, the first one is making rules.

And since that's the easiest to do, and the most obvious, and the most hard-and-fast, a lot of people jump to it.

So people move the rules further and further down the sequence of events that leads to the problem. If fighting is the problem, we look at what things are usually happening that lead up to the fights. Is it poking? Is it name calling? Okay, those are against the rules now.

But when enforcing the rules against the name-calling and the poking becomes overbearing, we look at what behaviors are leading to the poking and the name-calling and ban those.

The problem is, the kid doesn't really have a "poking" problem. He has a respect-for-others problem. Or he has a respect-for-authority problem. Or he is severely craving attention and this is the only way he knows how to get it. Or some kind of problem.

And when we churn kids into a huge system where they're not in the same room with the same grown-up for more than 50 minutes, and they're just a test score or a file in somebody's office, they're not really going to be given the kinds of attention they need to really learn and develop.

And telling them that they can't even have contact with each other isn't going to help that.

So I completely agree with you that this is the problem of overcrowded schools that aren't as interested in making really really amazing people out of our kids as they are in just getting by without anybody killing each other.

In other words, the school is as much a victim here as the kids are.

The fact is, our schools really won't work again until they do get smaller. Until educators actually can get as involved in their students lives the way we all pretend we want them to when we watch films like Stand and Deliver or Lean on Me or Freedom Writers, until educators are given the chance to be the ones giving out hugs to the kids that need it instead of breaking up hugs, until they can deal with what a kid is feeling instead of what a kid is doing, we're going to keep having this struggle year after year.

This rule has gone too far. Kids need touch. Lots of them are from homes that don't give it out, and that gives them a subtle message that touch is bad. Now they're coming to school and having that message reinforced.

There's any number of possible reactions to this. Some will handle it fine and still be well adjusted. Others will feel that their natural inclination towards wanting affection is wrong or bad and try to supress it or feel guilty or ashamed. Others will find unhealthy ways to experiment with affection, either with each other or with even younger kids.

I'll even go so far as to say it will make them extremely vulnerable to sexual predators.

I know the school feels its a safety issue. Safety is often about getting through the day. In this particular case, I feel they're doing that at the expense of making sure these kids are capable of dealing with life.

It probably seems that I'm being a big over-the-top dramatic about this. However, I don't think the school is even considering these issues.

And I'm one who always takes news stories like this with a HUGE grain of salt. I'm usually quick to defend schools in articles like this. Even in this story, I'm willing to bet there's more to this story than what's going on here. Usually in stories like this, there's more of a record on the kid's part than they're letting on, the kid is misrepresenting his side more than a little bit, and there was some type of major incident or incidents that lead to the action taken.

The school, as standard policy, doesn't release any rebuttal, because they don't want to be accused of spreading gossip or sharing confidential information about the case of a minor.

The reporter, completly happy to have another story about how screwed-up our schools are, goes ahead and runs the story with a little line about how school administrators won't answer their calls, making the school look like they've got something to hide instead of like they're trying to defend the public reputation of a minor.

In this case, the school prinicpal did give one line, and I'm even willing to guess that was taken semi out of context.

So I'm not condemning the school or defending the student.

What I am saying is that touch is an important--I'll even say vital--part of our development, and that this, or any, school would do well to consider that when going to this type of extreme in order to curb what I'm sure were fairly serious problems.

Edit: Because Stand by Me is NOT Stand and Deliver.

[ June 20, 2007, 01:08 AM: Message edited by: docmagik ]

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docmagik
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Oh, and I did want to mention that I do think it is possible for teachers to give loving, individual attention to students without imposing an ideology on them--encouraging students to become their best possible selves.

It just can't be done in the type of environment we've come to consider acceptable in our public education.

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Blayne Bradley
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Lol, took me a while to figure out what the godwins law was referring to me.
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Lyrhawn
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The problem i have with this I think, is that kids already don't really know what the boundaries are in social situations. Like what doc was saying.

When you create so many artificial boundaries for kids, at a time when they are supposed to be learning NATURAL boundaries, they aren't going to know what the hell is going on when those boundaries are removed. High school and junior high (what, EVERYONE went to middle school?), for better or for worse, is where kids learn these boundaries. When hugging or touching is inappropriate, and yes, when it IS appropriate, especially in public spaces. Forcing them into dark closets or forcing them to abstain entirely is only going to screw them up later in life, and these formative years is where you really don't want to screw them up.

Psychologically, I don't like what this does. I feel like we're getting closer and closer to churning out identical little clones from high school. They already fix your meals, brainwash your attitudes on a dozen different subjects, when I was in school they forced the pledge of allegience on you every day up until 10th grade or so, and now they're removing basic human contact from the mix too? What's next, no interaction AT ALL with your fellow classmates? No talking unless it refers to classroom business?

All hail the public school system, pumping out identical little American automatons since 2007.

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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
when I was in school they forced the pledge of allegience on you every day up until 10th grade or so
The humanity!
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anti_maven
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quote:
It's already ridiculous that workplaces have decided that any form of touch is inherently sexual, and pretty much have instituted hands-off policies in all but the most official circumstances (maybe I'll shake your hand once when I hire you or when you've agreed to buy something from me). Those are adults.
Hah! Here they think I'm wierd for not wanting to *kiss* people who come into the office.
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Lyrhawn
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quote:
Originally posted by mr_porteiro_head:
quote:
when I was in school they forced the pledge of allegience on you every day up until 10th grade or so
The humanity!
Just another straw on the camel's back. Didn't really matter much to me while I was saying it, it was rote memorization, it didn't really mean anything.

Rote memorization of those kinds of pledges are almost useless, you're just regurgitating words you've been given to say, like a trained monkey looking for a banana. He doesn't much care what he has to do, he just wants his banana. So I wonder why we bother doing it at all.

Besides, I never placed any sort of value on the forced pledging, it wasn't necessarily the worst of all possible offenses, or the least, it was just there, and I suppose I could have mentioned other examples instead of that one, but it's symptomatic of a practice that seems to be edging closer and closer to stamping out carbon copies kids. Make them all memorize the same words to repeat on command, don't let them talk to each other, don't let them touch, no human contact except with the system. I just fear the slippery slope we seem to be on when more and more stories like this come out. Apologies if you read it as more dramatic than it actually was.

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Xaposert
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quote:
But it's been a long June, and I completely sympathize with school policy that tries to keep kids SAFE by curbing their natural instincts to annoy each other.
Are they less safe over the summer because there is nobody around to prevent them from poking, tripping, or hugging one another?

quote:
Based on my experiences (12-minute lunch, detention if somebody talks to you when the class is walking down the the hall, mandatory volunteer work, and a general disregard for quality of education) I'd say the message is more like this:

"You are being locked up until puberty is over. Do not attempt to have a childhood."

Yes, this is definitely more like the message sent in middle school. I've heard junior high compared to prison by kids on several occasions...
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El JT de Spang
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quote:
Originally posted by mr_porteiro_head:
I've got to disagree. Comparing somebody to or inferring that they are like Nazis falls well within the expanded Godwin umbrella.

I'll give you that a Nazi comparison falls under Godwin's, but the quote just referenced 1930s Germany. I wouldn't count that. Slippery slope and all that.
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ClaudiaTherese
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quote:
Originally posted by Xaposert:
quote:
But it's been a long June, and I completely sympathize with school policy that tries to keep kids SAFE by curbing their natural instincts to annoy each other.
Are they less safe over the summer because there is nobody around to prevent them from poking, tripping, or hugging one another?
quote:
Originally posted by Liz B [immediately following the part excerpted above]:

(It's usually safer when you're dealing with fewer than 600 middle school boys at a time.) [Smile]



[ June 20, 2007, 09:56 AM: Message edited by: ClaudiaTherese ]

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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
Originally posted by El JT de Spang:
quote:
Originally posted by mr_porteiro_head:
I've got to disagree. Comparing somebody to or inferring that they are like Nazis falls well within the expanded Godwin umbrella.

I'll give you that a Nazi comparison falls under Godwin's, but the quote just referenced 1930s Germany. I wouldn't count that. Slippery slope and all that.
The Nazi Party was well in power during the 1930s.
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Elizabeth
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"Yes, this is definitely more like the message sent in middle school. I've heard junior high compared to prison by kids on several occasions..."

Newsflash.
Middle school students have always described school as a prison. It is one of the oldest cliche-metaphors going.

As a teacher, I know that kids, bless them, get out of control, and that the media, bless them, love to highlight these "ridiculous" policies, and that public schools(darn them and their free educational system!) are often seen as pumping out automatons.

The truth is, the day we can actually mold a child's brain is far off. From what I see, people come out of school just as weird and different as ever. But I think Doc has hit on a truth, which lies under the surface: we Americans don't teach our children manners, and we are uncomfortable with touch and are never quite sure how to deal with it.

I cannot tell you the nimber of times I give something to a child who does not say, "Thank you." In fact, the child often wonders aloud why he or she is not getting more.

My job should not be to teach manners. My own children go to school with the idea that, if their grades are off a little, that is mostly OK, but if their effort and behavior comments are poor, they can kiss their social lives good-bye. It is my job to teach them how to behave, not the teacher's.

That said, as a teacher, I am making up for this all day long. I take the time to stop my lesson to talk about why this or that behavior is "not OK" (yes, I use that annoying term, sorry) because it affects the group and the community, and we are a community, bla bla bla.

Our schools are too big.
Our classes are too big.
Our children are over-scheduled, and do not know what to do with free time.
Our teachers assume too much. It is OK to tell a sixth grader how you expect them to behave in your class and in the hall. They should know it, in fact they do know it, but they figure that if you don;t tell them, they are free to do what they want. They are adolescents, and this is The Way.
We(general we) are afraid to tell our kids to sit down and shut the heck up, because we might impinge on their personal rights. In their heart of hearts, though, kids know they need a structure to bounce around in. As long as the structure is secure and safe, we can stop micromanaging and let kids be the little houses of id that they are.

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El JT de Spang
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quote:
Originally posted by mr_porteiro_head:
quote:
Originally posted by El JT de Spang:
quote:
Originally posted by mr_porteiro_head:
I've got to disagree. Comparing somebody to or inferring that they are like Nazis falls well within the expanded Godwin umbrella.

I'll give you that a Nazi comparison falls under Godwin's, but the quote just referenced 1930s Germany. I wouldn't count that. Slippery slope and all that.
The Nazi Party was well in power during the 1930s.
So? Slippery slope, mi amigo. Does any reference to the 30s and 40s become a Godwin's Law? Any reference to Germany? Any reference to WWII? What if I make a reference to Wolfenstein? I'm just saying that makes for an awfully large umbrella.
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Tante Shvester
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You should only click on this link if you REALLY want to see some explicit necking.


High Five. It's what separates us from the animals. Or is it?

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mr_porteiro_head
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Every reference? No. But when "1930s Germany" is being used as an euphemism for "Nazi German", yes.
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Amanecer
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quote:
Actually, when you stop and think about it, the worst thing about the middle school environment is that you don't feel safe or allowed to form true friendships. By that age, most kids are far less willing to invite a classmate over to his house after school, particularly for a sleep-over. When switching from elementary school to middle school, the amount of time available for socializing with classmates drops sharply. The end result seems to be that kids don't get to learn any more about each other's personalities than the teachers do. This isn't enough to form a deep friendship - the kind where you can be completely at ease around your peers.
This was not my experience. I formed very deep friendships in middle school, most of which lasted through high school and many that still exist now that I'm post-college.
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Xaposert
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quote:
Newsflash.
Middle school students have always described school as a prison. It is one of the oldest cliche-metaphors going.

Yes... but this is a rather big problem, isn't it?
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ClaudiaTherese
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Hey, Teacher! Leave us kids alone ...

======

Edited to add: Pink Floyd references aside, I do agree this is a big problem. It is, though, unavoidable (I think) when you are dealing with groups this size. Properly regulated individual apprenticeships would be much better, but we are not willing to fund them.

My thoughts are surely colored by my recent experience. I had to take a group of new medical students on a tour of the facilities. This is a walk-around tour that takes less than 10 minutes to do with a similar-sized group of professional MDs [who are generally brusque, time-driven, and driven to get things done fast]. I told the students that if they stayed close, didn't chatter amongst themselves, and moved quickly, they could have 45 minutes of the allotted hour for break.

Instead, they spread out all over the place, lingered behind and had to be individually herded, and continued on with private conversations while all needed to be paying attention (and thus needed to be shushed each time, and the potential wounded feelings managed adroitly, etc.). So, it took 50 minutes in all, and they had 10 minutes for lunch.

*sigh

I realized then the value of boot camp. Mind you, this didn't make me proud of myself, but I really really wanted to say "hut, two, three, four" and have people actually move forward.

Were there only three of them, it would have worked fine. But the dynamics of a group of 12 undisciplined people is completely different. I can't imagine herding 30 at once.

[ June 20, 2007, 12:37 PM: Message edited by: ClaudiaTherese ]

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Jon Boy
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quote:
Originally posted by Artemisia Tridentata:
When I was in High School, the Adams boy was suspended for holding feet with his girlfriend under the table in biology class. That's not even necking.

Holding feet? [Confused] How the heck does that work? Were their big toes opposable?
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BlackBlade
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This all reminds me of "Teenagers" by "My Chemical Romance."

Its a good tune IMO, you can watch the music video on youtube.

The cheerleaders with gas masks were pretty awesome IMO.

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pH
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You can hold feet....

Although it would mean they were barefoot...which I could see as a problem.

-pH

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