While there are many things banned in schools worldwide that should rightly be restricted, many feel that schools are taking regulations too far these days and banning things that can help kids build relationships, have fun, learn, and understand how to function in the real world. They may just have a point. As you read through this list, you'll see more than a few knee-jerk reactions by schools to problems that could have been solved in much more logical and meaningful ways, as well as a few things most of us can't imagine our school days without. More than being surprising, many of these bans are downright ridiculous and draw attention away from far more pressing educational issues.
- high fives. Another school in Fort Worth banned hugs and hand-holding. They're not alone. Schools around the nation and the world are following suit. Schools defend their decisions by stating that the bans help ensure nothing inappropriate goes on (whether between students or between teachers and students) and reduces their chances of being caught up in a lawsuit. Kids and their parents aren't entirely convinced, and many have circulated petitions, staged protests, and quite vocally made their opposition to the bans clear to school administrators.
- sexually suggestive dancing, but schools aren't just outlawing those kinds of moves. While silly, it actually isn't that surprising. Ridiculous dance bans are nothing new, with "The Twist" being banned by Buffalo in 1962 and all fad dances being off-limits at BYU around the same time. It seems not much has changed. In 1996, many schools banned "the Macarena" for being "too provocative." While the lyrics do reference sex, it's unlikely that many elementary school kids even noticed. Remember the Hokey Pokey? Kids may not be able to do this dance anymore either, as religious officials have said it promotes anti-Catholic feelings (again, unlikely that anyone, let alone kids, would relate the two). Dancing is apparently so objectionable that in New York, the word itself is banned from standardized tests.
- in the U.S., the U.K., and Australia have outlawed the use of red ink when grading papers, stating that the color is too "confrontational" and "threatening." School officials state that students feel demoralized when they see a sea of red on their papers (somehow other colors are less off-putting?). But many aren't buying the reasoning, stating that children need to learn from their mistakes and be able to maintain self-esteem in the midst of criticism if they're to make it in the real world.
- spicy Cheetos have been targeted especially hard, even jokingly being called the "red menace"). While the bans may help some kids eat healthier, many feel it doesn't actually help kids develop good food habits (some studies have found that junk food bans have little impact and may actually encourage kids to binge at home). Many are instead arguing for limitations on junk food, not outright bans, so that students can learn moderation, a skill that will help them navigate real-life food choices. Of course, in typical knee-jerk style, schools are taking bans far beyond the cafeteria and not allowing school groups to run bake sales, often where a majority of their funding comes from.
- unhealthy treats that come with them, a more measured approach that some schools are embracing.
- dodgeball, which has been banned from many schools for years because it has been deemed unsafe. While dodgeball is an understandable activity to ban, tag and other team sports are far more questionable, and many critics believe that kids shouldn't be discouraged from engaging in any physical activity. Schools point to injuries suffered by students as the reason for the ban, but few statistics exist that point to increased levels of accidents justifying these bans.
- bullying and because they believe students will use the networks inappropriately. Yet social networks have a lot to offer students and teachers, especially sites like YouTube that are loaded with educational content. Additionally, many educators believe that it's critical to teach students how to use social networks responsibly, as misuse can have serious long-term effects when it comes time to apply for jobs or college.
- some cases, even students who travel with parents to school on bikes have been told they can no longer do so, greatly angering parents and cycling groups.
- allergies and safety are solid reasons for limiting what foods can be brought into schools, but like many other things on this list, schools have taken things far beyond what many parents and students consider reasonable. One Chicago-area school has gone so far as to ban lunches brought from home altogether, forcing students to eat cafeteria food, a policy which has forced many kids to go hungry as they do not wish to eat what the cafeteria is serving or don't have the money to pay for school-bought lunches every day. And kids can forget about treats for birthdays brought from home, as nearly all schools now ban home-cooked goods due to worries about allergies. (It's worth noting that food allergy groups don't support allergy-based bans, as they believe kids need to learn to manage their allergies in the real world.)
- students aren't happy about the ban, saying they still have to carry the same stuff to class, but now have no way to easily do so. Additionally, the students say it is almost impossible to make it to class on time when they have to stop at their lockers, which are often not close to their classes, between each hour.
(Today's guest blog comes from Rosa at Online College Courses. This trackback is not an endorsement of the product)