There are many things children cannot do at certain Australian schools.
One school outlawed hugging. Another prohibited singing Christmas carols. Another has removed the word “black” from “ba ba black sheep.” And now -- clapping has been banned.
Elanora Heights Public School, a primary school in Sydney, is instructing students to “punch the air, pull excited faces and wriggle about on the spot,” instead of slapping their hands together — all with a teacher’s permission, of course.
“The practice has been adopted to respect members of our school community who are sensitive to noise,” the school wrote in a July 18 newsletter. “When you attend an assembly, teachers will prompt the audience to conduct a silent cheer if it is needed.
“Teachers have also found the silent cheers to be a great way to expend children’s energy and reduce fidgeting,” the newsletter continued.
A New South Wales Education Department spokesman told The Educator magazine the clapping ban is only in place for school-wide assemblies, not all school events like plays, concerts or sporting events.
The spokesman also said the school consulted the Parents and Citizens group, similar to an American parent-teacher association, which supports the decision.
NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli said the school instituted the policy to support a faculty member with a hearing disability.
Australian schools have offered some interesting alternatives to more traditional ways of cheering or playing or displaying any kind of emotion.
Instead of hugs, one principle suggested high fives or a “knuckle handshake.”
Teachers at a prestigious all-girls school have been asked to replace terms like, “girls,” “ladies” or “women” with gender neutral terms like “students,” when addressing pupils to be considerate of nonbinary gendered students.
The bans have drawn outrage from some who say they feel the schools are overreaching in policing behavior.
“I am all for diversity and making sure that our younger generation understand exactly what is going on within the community, but to implement something like this, it’s just ridiculous,” Sunday Mail newspaper editor Peter Gleeson told a local television station.
Australian radio host Chris Smith called the new rules, “deplorable.”
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