You have no doubt heard that many schools have banned hugging and other public displays of affection among students. Administrators say that such touching is disruptive to the learning process and has the potential to lead to sexual harassment issues. But on the opposite end of the “no touching is good touching” school of thought are the administrators at the Parley Primary School in the UK. There, students are not only encouraged to get all touchy feely with one another, they are required to do it on a daily basis.
The six-year-olds who attend this school spend fifteen minutes each day giving each other massages. Now, these massages aren’t the deep-tissue kind that you might receive from a professional masseuse, but rather a gentle touching of heads, shoulder and backs. Maryanne Pike, the school’s headteacher, says this program of “positive touch and clothed peer massage” calms the students and gives them a respect for one another’s bodies.
Not surprisingly, many parents are outraged over this “idiotic nonsense from a bunch of trendies.” One parent wonders how the school can justify massages when they aren’t even letting the kids out for recess and some good old fashioned fresh air.
But according to teacher Christine Barstow, the program has been so popular with the six-year-olds that they intend to expand it to the entire student body, which is comprised of students aged four to nine. In a letter sent home to parents, she writes:
“Studies have shown that when children massage each other they become calmer, concentrate better and have more confidence. They learn to respect themselves and other children and communicate more readily with children they might not normally play with.”
I know there have been studies that show massages are helpful in calming kids, especially those with ADHD. In that respect, I can kind of see what they are trying to do here. But while idea of kids gently carressing each other in a kind and loving way is kind of sweet, the idea that they are required to do it as part of their daily curriculum at school feels all kinds of wrong to me. Just as no child should be prohibited from touching a friend, neither should they be required to do so.
Image: are you my rik/Flickr
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