I once again find myself torn on an issue of grave national importance: hugs.
The hugs were out of control at West Sylvan Middle School.
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It was, Couch said, a virus of hugs.
So the principal banned hugs on the school campus in late February.
The campus of nearly 600 seventh- and eighth-graders joined a growing list of schools nationwide that have halted hugs as well as other behaviors deemed detrimental to teaching and learning.
On the one hand, I understand that things can get a little out of control from time to time in junior high. When the Super Ball factory closed in our city, thousands and thousands of the big rubber balls ended up on every campus in the city. Walking the blacktop at recess was like trying to cross between trenches on the Western Front. Eyes were blackened and lips split with frightening regularity. In response to this very real, acute problem, the school did what it had to do: it banned Super Balls. Banning Super Balls as a general rule is silly, but it made sense. So I can understand why you might want to ban hugs if they’d really gotten out of control.
On the other hand, it’s hugs. Maybe they need to be banned, but the ban should be relaxed after a few weeks, with an admonition to the kids not to let things get out of control again. That’s what responsible educators do: they teach lessons about what’s appropriate and inappropriate.
Hugging is — at least almost always — appropriate. The crazy-interferes-with-school-grand-hugging-virus might not be. So kill the virus, then let life resume as normal. If it gets out of control again, have another temporary ban. But just as the Georgia legislature gives me hope (see the post below), so this Principal gives me hope:
Couch, who has been principal at West Sylvan for seven years and a school administer for two decades, can perhaps look forward to the day of hugging normalcy.
But in the meantime, she concluded her memo to school colleagues by saying she’d treated the hugging in schools like a computer with a virus.
“If any of you have any ideas about how to reboot so that we can come back to it appropriately, I would sure love to hear from you.”
Hope. It’s a rare and delicate thing.