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December 14th, 2006:

Teachers, schools and the evils of hugging

Some say that erring on the side of caution is the best and only good policy.

Some also say that those in the teaching gig are big on good policy and short on good sense.
Here’s a story about a good student in a school in the east end of Ottawa where good policy is high on the charts and good sense is extinct.

She’s Popular. Lots of interests outside the class. The teachers like her. Good grades.
In short – no problems and little to worry about.

This teen had a really bad congestive cold for a couple of weeks and her parents found a good remedy – Cold FX – man, it really seemed to work. So, the concerned parents followed the directions on the bottle and sent some of the tablets with the teen to school.

Turns out that was VERY bad idea. Somewhere on the same scale as Hannibal Lecter bad.
The first clue came when a condescending message was left on the kid’s Mum’s cell – a vice-principal (remember them?) sniffingly informing the mom of the need for a doctor’s or parent’s note needed in to allow the teen to take a pill at school.

Fair enough – gotta make sure that the rascals aren’t sneaking crystal meth or crack onto the premises, eh?

(Aside – Though the Dad ( a good friend of this meek author) was told by one of the teachers a few months prior that the biggest problem at the school were the girls who wore midriff baring shirts. That was it. The worst he had to offer. No blades. No powder. No harassment. Nuthin.

It was seriously considered that the kid should be moved to a school that more closely reflected urban reality.)

So – the kid gets called to the office and is lectured on the above.

Mom and Dad’s fault for sure. After all, they should have read up on this stuff and clued in that the 21st century Puritan reality was in play.

Their bad.

But that’s not good enough – her locker and backpack are rifled through in search of the elusive stash. The rent-a-cop (er, Vice Principal) et al standing to the side waiting fore the moment of Glory when it is discovered that this 13 year old is the REAL criminal mastermind behind 9/11!

Remember I said that the kid is really not a problem. Popular. Good grades. Good heart. No freaky issues. All’s well. Etc.

That was Wednesday.

Now, this kid likes to hug her friends – boys or girls, it doesn’t matter. She likes to hug. This kid doesn’t need ecstasy to feel warm and cuddly. Her friends are dear and she likes to show it. Her parents think this is better than hitting her friends.

Turns out that hugging is a crime.

John Lennon would be barfing if he heard this.

So – the VP or some teacher on duty sees her hugging a friend, warnings are given. The kid sees nothing wrong with her actions and is sent to the office yet again. She comes by this rebelliousness naturally as her Dad was constantly in trouble with the Man. A real bad ass.

Did I mention that only the week before, her naive Mom and Dad sat in the home room of the school hearing about what a great kid their daughter was. How big a help she was around the class. How well she has caught onto French in immersion.

And so on.

Wow. If only they knew that their saintly offspring was not only guilty of possession of an over the counter cold medication containing ginseng BUT she was also found culpable of *gasp* HUGGING HER FRIENDS!


This meek author has had his issues with those of the teaching profession over the years. And, eerily enough, I turned out to be a very productive member of the community called Canada and with degrees out the ying-yang and kids and staff and… wow… howthehelldidthathappen?

The thing is – and I say the following with apologies to my sister and sister in law who are teachers – the vast majority of the school administrators I have met and by default the teachers as well (I estimate the number to be about 200) possess qualities that are, let’s say, annoying? No – how about pretentious…. hmmm give me sec – I’m searching for the term.

I can name at most 6 of them who had a positive influence on my development. Most just went through the motions or worse, actively tried to prevent me from reaching my potential because (gasp again), I was a helluva lot smarter and wittier than they.

Many, many of those so-called “teachers” I have crossed paths with over the years are not at all comfortable in adult situations and feel the need to compensate for this feeling of isolation by lording superior over those folks that they can easily lord over.

The kids.

Here is the irony in the situation I have described above.

The day after this teen is reamed out for hugging, she and her classmates are sent to a day session on how to defend oneself.

Fine. Yes. It is a weird world out there sometimes and this is not a problem.

But isn’t it a little odd that in a 24 hour span she is told on the one hand that showing your friendship in a physical way is taboo but are strongly encouraged to “not hold anything back” and beat the crap out of the guy in the padded suit?

Suddenly home schooling seems to be a saner path.