Along with the dunce cap and printed textbooks, it appears the raised hand will be added to the growing heap of outdated school classroom necessities. This in an effort, according to Jezebel, to avoid Hermione Granger types to dominate classroom discussion.
For generations, the raised hand has been used to signal polite and knowledgeable classroom participation; “raise your hands if you know the answer,” was the firm refrain of an educator at the very top of her classroom management game.
Which is why it comes as a surprise to see news that the raised hand, at least in one elementary school, has been banned.
Teachers at the Burlington Junior School in the U.K. will no longer call on the raised and waving hand. Rather, they’ll wait for students to signal with a more subtle thumbs-up, according to the Daily Mail. The raised thumb, held low on the desk should promote a calmer and more inclusive learning environment. Head teacher, Cheryl Adams, defended the raised-arm ban:
‘Some children are always keen to raise their hand and others are more reticent,’ she explained. ‘Hands up can sometimes be more of a distraction for young children.
‘It can put them off because they have to put their ideas forward in a forceful way. You normally get half a dozen who will regularly put up their hand and another half a dozen who will never put their hand up.
Some parents scoffed at the ban, saying the time teachers and administrators spent deciding whether it would be a good idea could have been better used on educating the kids. However, I can’t imagine the new policy took that much time from the school day to discuss and implement.
In fact, I get what the teachers are going for and it’s a pretty good idea. While the raised hand served confident students well, there is an element to it keeps the teacher from having an accurate understanding of what the kids are understanding. If one kid raises her hand and gives the correct answer, does that mean the whole class understands? Or just that kid? Are the others not raising their hands because they’re too shy or because they’re baffled?
With the thumbs-up approach, the teacher asks the question. Those who know the answer raise their thumbs, without having to be brave or having to worry that they are the classroom Hermione. The teacher doesn’t have to guess whether others know the answer but just don’t want to be called on.
The raised hand strategy makes demonstrating an understanding of the question optional. Thumb signals demonstrate right away who gets what. I think it’s kind of great. And the less showy side of it speaks to my inner-second-grade self.
Would you be sad to see the raised hand banned?