- Parent Category: Upper-Intermediate News Lessons
- Category: Education Lessons
- Written by Chris Cotter
In a junior high school in middle America, a particularly strict rule states that a student will receive one after-school detention if she hugs a friend. Two hugs equals two days. In fact, if the children display any form of public affection on school grounds, they will get appropriately punished.
It sounds like a joke. Unfortunately, Megan Coulter found out just how seriously the school views the rule, because she got punished when she hugged two friends. She explained that the hugs weren't even real ones, and instead she simply threw an arm over her friends' shoulders and offered a quick squeeze to say goodbye for the weekend. It's hilarious, pitiful, and frustrating to think that teachers would actually waste time enforcing such a policy.
But the school superintendent fully backs the school's decision, explaining that the teachers were following clearly laid out guidelines from the school handbook. It 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 supporters argue that the rule allows students to focus on learning.
Although Coulter's parents don't plan to appeal the decision, they certainly scoff at it. First of all, the policy discourages a basic human need, namely affection and physical contact. All people of all ages hug or hold hands all the time. Yet the rule also demonstrates that educators seem more willing to blindly follow rules, even ridiculous ones, instead of using common sense or arguing against policies that are just plain wrong.
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.