Ban on Raising Hands Gets ‘Thumbs Up’ From Me

I remember how frustrating it was to have to raise my hand before I could speak in class.  The teacher took what felt like an eternity to pick me.

First I would go for the conventional right arm raised high, complete with perfect posture and enthusiastic eye contact.  But then my arm grew tired.

Plan B was to swap arms, this time using the left, but with the same steely determination to get chosen.  But after a while, my arm would again become tired.

Finally I would go for the two arm job.  My right arm would be raised with my left used as support behind the elbow, propping it up in the hope that I could last until my name would eventually get the call.

And then, after all that, I would remain overlooked and reluctantly gave up the fight and threw in the towel.

And that was just to ask permission to go to the bathroom …

As you may have guessed I’m not a fan of raised hands.  It amazed me at Uni during tutorials how civil a lesson can be when raising hands was replaced by two simple unspoken rules – wait your turn and don’t interject.

That’s why I’m dumbfounded that a simple change like replacing hand raising with the far less strenuous “thumbs-up” motion, could me met with so much criticism:

Pupils at Burlington Junior School in Bridlington, East Yorks, have been asked to adopt the new hand signal to create a more relaxed classroom.

The children – aged eight and nine – have now been told to get the teachers attention by giving a thumbs up while cupping their hand.

But parents at the 360-pupil school have blasted the decision as “daft” after it was introduced at the beginning of this school year and say the clidren look like The Fonz, from the television comedy Happy Days.

Dad-of-three Dave Campleman, 44, who has two children at the school, said: “I thought it was a joke at first. It’s daft. I can’t see the logic in it.

“Fair enough if it was across the board, but I’ve not heard of any other schools doing it.

The driving instructor added: “I think it’s a bit pointless, it’s not benefiting their education – they could focus on other things.

“Kids are used to putting their hands up, it is natural for them. Being told to do something different just confuses them.

“I am just bemused by it. I think they should go back to the old way of putting your hand up in class.”

And teachers at the pupil school have even taken to putting up signs to discourage kids from raising their hand.

In one poster campaign plastered on the walls of classrooms, a thick red cross can be seen through an image of a raised arm to discourage children from using the old method.

Next to it is an image of a pupil doing a thumbs up aimed at helping pupils get to grips with the change.

Another parent, who has a son in the class but didn’t want to be named, said: “It is going to make the class look like they are all imitating the Fonz from Happy Days.

“On a serious note when these kids go up to secondary school next year they could be a laughing stock because all the other children will be putting up their hands.

“I think there should have been more consultation from the school with the parents over this and perhaps a trial first before an outright ban.

“I can’t really see it making the classroom more relaxed – they are young, excitable kids and putting up your thumb instead of your arm isn’t going to change that.”

It’s amazing how a simple change can create such angst.  I think the signs are a light-hearted send up of the stereotypical rigid school rule.  It’s not as if children are going to be punished for accidentally raising their hands.

As for the kids becoming a laughing-stock in High School, one might be surprised to know that children aren’t stupid.  Treat them like mature young adults and you may be in for a pleasant surprise.



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