In a junior high school in middle America, hugs send children into hot water with the faculty. One hug gets the guilty party one after-school detention, and two hugs equals two days after school. In fact, should any student display any type of affection whatsoever, it's straight to the principle's office she goes.
Although it sounds like a joke, it's definitely not. Megan Coulter found out the hard way, discovering just how seriously the school perceives the policy when she hugged two friends goodbye for the weekend. She explained that the hugs weren't even real ones, and she instead threw an arm around each friend's shoulder and gave a slight squeeze. It's hilarious, pitiful, and frustrating to imagine educators would actually waste valuable time meting out such a punishment.
But the school superintendent fully backs the school's decision, explaining that the teachers correctly adhered to guidelines laid out in the school handbook for the safety and betterment of a positive learning environment. The handbook states, "Displays of public affection should not occur on the school campus at any time. It is in poor taste, reflects poor judgment, and brings discredit to the school and the persons involved." Other advocates argue that the rule allows students to focus on learning.
Although Coulter's parents don't intend to appeal the decision, they certainly scoff at it. First of all, the policy dissuades a basic human need, namely affection and physical contact. All people of all ages everywhere hug or hold hands. Yet the rule also illustrates how educators seem more willing to blindly follow rules, even laughable ones, rather than use common sense or argue against inane policies.
Megan will serve her punishment rather than face more trouble. Her parents will attend the next school board meeting with the hopes of changing the rule.
Preview some of the lesson material:
Brainstorm: Brainstorm with a partner(s) words and ideas associated with "public display of affection" for 2 minutes. Spend another 5 minutes or less discussing the words and ideas together.
Rank It!: Which kind of affection is okay in public? Rank them in order. Remember to support your decisions!
- kissing someone on the lips
- holding hands
- kissing someone on the cheek
- heavy petting
post-Comprehension: Talk about the following questions in pairs/groups. Remember to support your answers!
- What do you think about Megan's punishment? Why?
- What do you think about the school's decision to blindly follow the policy? Why?
- What would you do if you were Megan's parents? Please explain.
- Is it a good idea to just follow the rules without questioning them? Why/not?
- What do you think will happen at this school in the future? Will anything change?
Google Search: Type "public display of affection" into Google. Look at the websites, and/or read additional articles on this topic. Discuss or write an essay about your findings.