If there’s one thing I don’t care for, it’s political correctness: the forbidding of certain words, concepts or ideas because they might offend or the forcing of topics to be dealt with in a manner that attempts to sugar-coat them to whatever extent necessary to stop people from being upset. Granted, it’s wrong to use overtly offensive terminology or derogatory practices, but sometimes you have to deal with the fact that reality is not as everyone wishes it was.
It’s always been a problem in education, but recently it’s gotten way way out of hand, and it seems to be happening around the world.
In the UK, schools are now banning children making “best friends.”
TEACHERS are banning schoolkids from having best pals Ă˘â‚¬â€ť so they don’t get upset by fall-outs.
Instead, the primary pupils are being encouraged to play in large groups.
Educational psychologist Gaynor Sbuttoni said the policy has been used at schools in Kingston, South West London, and Surrey.
She added: “I have noticed that teachers tell children they shouldn’t have a best friend and that everyone should play together.
“They are doing it because they want to save the child the pain of splitting up from their best friend. But it is natural for some children to want a best friend. If they break up, they have to feel the pain because they’re learning to deal with it.”
Russell Hobby, of the National Association of Head Teachers, confirmed some schools were adopting best-friend bans.
First, I’d like to know how you can ban kids from having a “best friend,” although I can see how you could force them to drive their unacceptable relationship underground. I wonder what the punishment is for making a “best friend” or not spending equal time with all. And what if you’ve already established a friendship before entering the school?
This is the height of absurdity on every level. It’s perfectly natural for some kids to gravitate toward a play buddy or have a friend who is closer than the rest. Most people have a small inner circle of close friends who they associate with more than the rest of their peers. Clearly some of these relationships will end, either because kids drift apart or because they have an argument or falling out. That might or might not be unpleasant, depending on the circumstances, but really, that’s just life.
I’m not entirely surprised by the policy, however. It seems to be perfectly in line with where society is going.
In New Jersey and elsewhere, it’s hugging:
New Jersey School Bans Hugging
The 900 students at Matawan-Aberdeen Middle School in Cliffwood, N.J., will have to find another way to show affection after the principal declared the campus a Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“no hugging schoolĂ˘â‚¬ť.
Principal Tyler Blackmore issued the mandate after the school observed Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“some incidents of unsuitable, physical interactions between students,Ă˘â‚¬ť the school district said in a statement.
Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“We have a responsibility to teach children about appropriate interactions and about having a structured, academically focused environment,Ă˘â‚¬ť David M. Healy, superintendent of the Matawan-Aberdeen Regional School District, said in a statement.
Healy said the students, who range in ages 11 to 14, would not be suspended for hugging.
Matawan-Aberdeen joins the company of a handful of schools across the United States that have instituted no hugging rules.
West Sylvan Middle School in Portland, Ore., banned students from hugging in 2010 after the principal said the embrace had become a disruption and even a bullying mechanism.
Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“I was observing students hugging other students and the other students didnĂ˘â‚¬â„˘t feel comfortable,Ă˘â‚¬ť principal Allison Couch told ABCNews.com at the time.
Girls eager to see each other would also run the length of the hallway, hugging all of their friends, she said.
A 14-year-old student at Southwest Middle School in Palm Bay, Fla., was suspended in November for a brief hug he shared with a female student between classes.
Nick Martinez said he hugged his best friend, a female student, and never thought the gesture would result in suspension. The principal saw the hug and brought the two students to the dean, who issued a one-day in-school suspension.
In this case, I will acknowledge that there may be a legitimate need to provide some basic rules for physical interaction. Certainly touching someone, even if it is considered a “hug” can be unacceptable if it’s done in a manner that is uninvited. Furthermore, I’m sure we can all remember incidents from Junior High and High School where students engaged in public displays of affection that were disruptive and bordered on downright obscene.
Still, banning “hugging” in general is a pretty extreme way of dealing with interactions, especially if the act could lead to something like a suspension. I wonder if there’s any exception for extreme circumstances. After all, hugging someone seems to be a natural response to a traumatic or emotional situation. If a close friend confides that “I just found out my mom has cancer,” it would be hard to fault them for wanting a hug, and the idea that this could lead to a suspension is pretty ridiculous.
Perhaps there should be some kind of committee to approve of each hug and grant a hug permit based on the circumstances?
In the UK, some US states and elsewhere in the world, it’s red-colored ink:
When correcting and grading papers, teachers often use a colored pen to make their statements stand out and mark areas that need improvement. The most common, of course, being red. But this, apparently, is no longer acceptable in many areas. The color, it seems, is just too upsetting, or so it has been said.
Via the Mail Online:
Teachers banned from using ‘confrontational’ red ink in case it upsets children
Hundreds of schools have barred teachers from marking in red in case it upsets the children.
They are scrapping the traditional method of correcting work because they consider it Ă˘â‚¬ËśconfrontationalĂ˘â‚¬â„˘ and Ă˘â‚¬ËśthreateningĂ˘â‚¬â„˘.
Pupils increasingly find that the ticks and crosses on their homework are in more soothing shades like green, blue, pink and yellow, or even in pencil.
Traditionalists have branded the ban Ă˘â‚¬ËśbarmyĂ˘â‚¬â„˘, saying that red ink makes it easier for children to spot errors and improve. There are no set government guidelines on marking and schools are free to formulate their own individual policies.
Crofton Junior School, in Orpington, Kent, whose pupils range from seven to 11, is among those to have banned red ink. Its Marking Code of Practice states: Ă˘â‚¬ËśWork is
generally marked in pen Ă˘â‚¬â€ś not red Ă˘â‚¬â€ś but on occasion it may be appropriate to indicate errors in pencil so that they may be corrected.Ă˘â‚¬â„˘
Headmaster Richard Sammonds said: Ă˘â‚¬ËśRed pen can be quite demotivating for children. It has negative, old-school connotations of Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“See meĂ˘â‚¬ť and Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“Not good enoughĂ˘â‚¬ť.
Ă˘â‚¬ËśWe are no longer producing clerks and bookkeepers. We are trying to provide an education for children coming into the workforce in the 21st century.
Ă˘â‚¬ËśThe idea is to raise standards by taking a positive approach.
Ă˘â‚¬ËśWe highlight bits that are really good in one colour and use a different colour to mark areas that could be improved.Ă˘â‚¬â„˘
At Hutton Cranswick Community Primary School in Driffield, East Yorkshire, the Marking and Feedback Policy reads: Ă˘â‚¬ËśMarking should be in a different colour or medium from the pupilĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s writing but should not dominate. For this reason, red ink is inappropriate.Ă˘â‚¬â„˘
Shirley Clarke, an associate of the Institute of Education, said: Ă˘â‚¬ËśBanning red ink is a reaction to years of children having nothing but red over their work and feeling demoralised. When children, especially young children, see every single spelling mistake covered in red, they can feel useless and give up.Ă˘â‚¬â„˘
Hmm.. interesting that a color would be considered so upsetting. I wonder if it’s considered “confrontational” if a teacher writes “A+” or “Great Job” on a paper in red? The ban, whether official or unofficial has lead to many teachers adopting a purple marker or pen for making correction and grading marks.
This brings up a an interesting question: just how much of the aversion to red is inherent to the color, which is, after all, the color of blood and has been associated with war in the past and how much might be just the fact that it’s traditionally used for correcting papers? If kids grow up being demoralized by seeing papers covered in purple correction marks, will purple become the new red? Will purple have to be banned next and will we have to go back to red?
Maybe one should consider what the ink says rather than its color. I’d take an angry red A+ over a subdued purple F any day!
In California, it’s dictionaries (Yes, dictionaries):
Why on earth would a school ban dictionaries? Because most dictionaries contain some terms that are taboo or even sexual. Just open a dictionary and start looking and you’re bound to find words like “penis,” and “sadism” or “prostitute.” Oh the horror! Obviously these dirty books must be banned.
‘Oral sex’ definition prompts dictionary ban in US schools
Dictionaries have been removed from classrooms in southern California schools after a parent complained about a child reading the definition for “oral sex”.
Merriam Webster’s 10th edition, which has been used for the past few years in fourth and fifth grade classrooms (for children aged nine to 10) in Menifee Union school district, has been pulled from shelves over fears that the “sexually graphic” entry is “just not age appropriate”, according to the area’s local paper.
The dictionary’s online definition of the term is “oral stimulation of the genitals”. “It’s hard to sit and read the dictionary, but we’ll be looking to find other things of a graphic nature,” district spokeswoman Betti Cadmus told the paper.
While some parents have praised the move Ă˘â‚¬â€ś “[it's] a prestigious dictionary that’s used in the Riverside County spelling bee, but I also imagine there are words in there of concern,” said Randy Freeman Ă˘â‚¬â€ś others have raised concerns. “It is not such a bad thing for a kid to have the wherewithal to go and look up a word he may have even heard on the playground,” father Jason Rogers told local press. “You have to draw the line somewhere. What are they going to do next, pull encyclopaedias because they list parts of the human anatomy like the penis and vagina?”
It seems in this case, it’s not all dictionaries, just dictionaries that are not heavily censored to remove all references to anything that might be even slightly sexual in nature. It’s quite amazing, especially given that the definition of oral sex given is pretty straight forward and bland, saying exactly what it is without any graphic description at all. Still, some felt that the very acknowledgment that it existed negated the value of the dictionary.
So what if a 5th grader hears that word and wonders what it is? I suppose they’ll just have to ask their schoolyard friends or hit up a search engine. Yeah, I’m sure that will result in a much less graphic description.
Finally, taking the cake is New York City, which has proposed banning almost any word that seems negative, is associated with upper versus lower classes, might disturb someone, is divisive, refers to something scary, might be sad or is otherwise not absolutely politically neutral in every way:
The words are apparently to be banned from standardized tests specifically, but since those are what usually dictates how subjects are taught and what is put into text books, it’s likely to extend into the general curriculum. This apparently is part of a larger policy to reduce the use of terms that might “distract” some of the schools students.
50 words banned from NYC school tests
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — You’ve heard of banned books? Get ready for banned words.
The city Department of Education is aiming to get 50 words removed from some city-issued standardized tests, and some of them are real head-scratchers.
Among the off-limits terms: “politics,” “poverty,” and “religion.”
The reasoning: The words might be distracting to segments of the city’s diverse student population.
Here is the complete list of words:
Abuse (physical, sexual, emotional, or psychological)
Alcohol (beer and liquor), tobacco, or drugs
Birthday celebrations (and birthdays)
Cancer (and other diseases)
Catastrophes/disasters (tsunamis and hurricanes)
Children dealing with serious issues
Cigarettes (and other smoking paraphernalia)
Computers in the home (acceptable in a school or library setting)
Death and disease
Expensive gifts, vacations, and prizes
Gambling involving money
Homes with swimming pools
In-depth discussions of sports that require prior knowledge
Loss of employment
Occult topics (i.e. fortune-telling)
Religious holidays and festivals (including but not limited to Christmas, Yom Kippur, and Ramadan)
Television and video games (excessive use)
Traumatic material (including material that may be particularly upsetting such as animal shelters)
Vermin (rats and roaches)
War and bloodshed
Weapons (guns, knives, etc.)
Witchcraft, sorcery, etc.
This story has gotten so much attention that it’s likely that this will be reversed, because it’s so stupid! For one thing, it’s ridiculous to pretend that the world does not have unpleasant and controversial things in it. If you do, you’ve sheltering students to the point where they are being done an enormous disservice.
A number of subjects would be all but impossible to teach. I’m hard pressed to think of how it would even be possible to write a standardized test on history at all. Some of the most important events in history, which changed the way nations existed and resulted in revolutions were wars. You’d have a hard time explaining the 1960′s without mentioning the Vietnam War or the 20th century in general while ignoring World War I and II. It would be impossible to talk about the Great Depression, since poverty and homelessness can’t be discussed. Banning alcohol means prohibition is a topic that can’t be discussed. If you can’t talk about hunting, a very large portion of the life of Native Americans and early settlers is out, but I suppose you can’t really talk about them much anyway, because there was often violent conflict and oppression involved. Most of the 1800′s in the United States is out, since the Civil War, slavery and other taboo issues were big factors in history. The colonization of the US would have to be further restricted because many early settlers were tobacco farmers.
Biology would not fare much better. You can’t discuss death, so that would make it very difficult to describe life cycles or how the biosphere recycles material from dead organisms. With violence and hunting banned, any discussion of predators or food chain is impossible. Not being able to discuss disease cuts out a huge area as does the ban on anything related to sex. If you can’t discuss bodily functions, then philology and medical-related topics are impossible. The inclusion of evolution is not surprising, but assures that absolutely nothing important about biology can be taught.
Beyond that, you can’t teach much about computer technology or development if you have to pretend that a private user is never involved. Civics and government-related classes are out. I suppose you can still teach math, although you’d have to be very careful with any word problems or you might offend someone.
What A NYC Text Book Might Look Like:
Note: I hope I did not offend anyone with my use of red. Next time I’ll use purple so it does not seem so traumatic and confrontational.
This entry was posted on Saturday, March 31st, 2012 at 1:35 pm and is filed under Bad Science, Culture, Education, History, Just LAME, Misc, Politics. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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