Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Written on the Body

"Has anyone else noticed that the kids have been doing an excessive amount of writing and drawing on themselves?" a colleague asked at our team meeting today. "Should we be concerned?"

The truth is, I had noticed, and I am mildly concerned. This dermography is not at the top of my list of worries about my students, but it's there, and I was glad to have the opportunity to grapple with it among other educators. The assistant principal was at our meeting, too. "Do we have a policy?" I asked. "If not, should we?"

I confess to an extreme bias here. I hate to have any markings on me, and likewise, I abhor tattoos. In my childhood they were limited to the biceps of a few ex-serviceman dads of my friends, but the explosion of ink in the last 15 years is unfathomable (and a little sickening) to me. BUT... I have learned to be very discreet about my opinion, because so many people have tattoos, both obvious and hidden.

There is no policy about writing on yourself, and at our meeting we briefly wondered if there should be. Is it just self-expression? Is it any worse than doodling on paper? Is the ink dangerous? One teacher offered that in middle school, she marked all over herself in gel pen, and it was her parents who put the kibosh on that.

I agree that it should be a parenting decision, but I wonder what some will think when their children come home all marked up. "When did you do that?" they might ask.

And if their children should reply, "Oh, in English class," I wouldn't fault those parents for questioning me.

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