After reading and thinking about recent comments on this blog and another, I am increasingly horrified by the revelations that many principals in DISD are jumping on the fad bandwagon and requiring teachers to shake every child’s hand (or even to shake hands with most kids) before the child enters a classroom.
I am not horrified as a teacher; I am horrified as a parent. I don’t want my child forced to touch any adult.
Think about it this way: when adults who have power over a child reach out to shake a child’s hand, in almost all cases the child will oblige whether they want to or not because they feel they have to be polite and compliant.
Psychologically, that’s bullying and intimidation. An adult in power over children who initiates contact forces children to ignore their natural (healthy) inclination to maintain a zone of personal space. Requiring teachers to initiate handshakes forces children to touch people they may not want to touch. Why is this being allowed?
Handshaking between equals or peers is one thing, but this TFA/charter school/Michelle Rhee (who put duct tape over a child’s mouth) wave of required handshaking is frankly wrong. It’s just as wrong as putting duct tape over a child’s mouth.
It also has a sinister undertone of dominance. Petty tyrants (and just plain sociopaths) use the handshaking ritual to make other people uncomfortable or feel subordinated; the sociopaths do this on purpose by shoving their hands out at people they believe to be beneath them in stature or power. However, an adult at least has the freedom to decline.
Children, though, especially in a school setting, feel powerless to decline. And once we’ve taught them to submit to unwanted touching, they truly have become powerless.
As a parent, I also don’t want my child to have increased exposure to the germs that have gathered on a teacher’s hand. And if every teacher a child sees in a day forces a handshake, that’s exponentially more germs. It’s completely unsanitary.
I’m sure I speak for most parents when I say to DISD administrators, “Don’t make my child touch you.”
I don’t care who you are or what you think you are “teaching” children. Don’t make them touch you.
I feel especially troubled when I think about how students with sensory issues, autism, intellectual disabilities and past experiences with sexual abuse must feel when cornered by a teacher who has themselves been cornered into this by a principal.
NO ONE in DISD administration should be mandating that teachers initiate physical contact with any child. To do so is either ignorant or deviant. To do so exploits children for that administrator’s personal gain.
What’s next? Required hugs or sidelines-inspired slaps on the backside? I mean, why not? What’s the difference?
Mike Miles needs to put an end to this weird, possibly deviant, definitely unsanitary fad immediately. No child should have to touch an adult to please an adult. Adults with dominance issues need to work those out somewhere else, but not on my child.
I’m also horrified that a teacher has to be the one to point this out to the DISD superintendent and principals and EDs who didn’t or couldn’t think this through. Inexcusable.