Mindfulness?

So this showed up on @burnoutprof on Instagram. It’s from the Broward Teachers Union. I assume that’s Broward County, Florida, but I could be wrong. Apparently a teacher was accused of assault and arrested. Here’s what it said:

Just today, I have been reminded once again that ANY kind of touching of a student, no matter how natural or instinctive it may be, can lead to you being charged with assault and arrested.

During a mindfulness exercise this week,

Okay hang on. Mindfulness exercise? What the hell does that even mean? Why are we worried about mindfulness in public school? Shouldn’t the main concern be learning? Now we have to talk about mindfulness? Mindfulness is one of those things that means ten different things to ten different people. Anyway, it goes on.

During a mindfulness exercise this week, one of our members guided a student to walk in the correct direction by placing a hand on his arm. Today, two police officers came to the school and arrested the teacher who is being charged with assault.

Obviously I wasn’t there, so I don’t know any specifics. If anyone wants to share more information, please do in the Comments. The point is, I don’t know what “placing a hand” means. Is this gently leading, or did the teacher yank the kid the right way because the kid was being an obnoxious asshole? I don’t know. The wording suggests this was not forceful.

I have said it before and will continue to repeat myself as often as necessary; keep your hands from ever touching a student in any way, no matter how kind or loving your actions may be. In this litigious society, no one is safe from being charged with a crime for those actions.

Wow. Like I said, I don’t know exactly what happened, and I personally don’t touch people I don’t know for exactly this reason. I also don’t really like people. A long time ago, I was in Alcoholics Anonymous for a while. For lots of reasons, it wasn’t a good fit, and I left. One thing I always hated was that, at the end of a meeting, everyone would join hands and say the Our Father.

That’s when I’d go outside. I’d stick around to chat with people afterward, but I never took part in the joining hands and praying. I didn’t believe in a higher power or god or prayer, and I don’t like to touch people I don’t know or be touched. It’s just a personal thing.

I also didn’t go around hugging people before leaving. That’s another big thing with AA folks, the hugging. I got confronted about this kind of thing numerous times, and nobody liked my answers: I’m an atheist, I don’t pray, I don’t like touching or being touched, and I’m allowed to feel that way. Mostly I was told I wasn’t turning my will “over to the care of god.”

Of course I wasn’t. I’m an atheist. But this apparently meant that I would never recover. Well I did. More specifically, I realized I had nothing to recover from because I wasn’t an alcoholic. I was just drinking too much too often. Nowadays I don’t do that, and I’m fine. I’m sure they’d disagree, but let’s get back to Broward Teachers Union.

Is it a shame that this teacher got charged with assault? Probably. Again, I don’t know any specifics. My point is, touch is an intensely personal matter, and nobody has any idea what anyone’s reaction will be to it. Is it a shame that a teacher can’t comfort an upset or frightened child with a hug? Again, probably. But something I keep trying to remind myself is that you never know what someone else’s story is.

Conversely, I’m willing to believe an assault charge was probably unwarranted. It’s likely an issue that could have been dealt with as a discussion. If anything, where currently in a culture where it’s much safer if we all just keep our hands to ourselves. It’s an act of self preservation at this point.

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