Frightened to touch – is that good for your class?

Combine  the ideas in  David Brook’s address to the Commonwealth Club of California, Harlow’s research on the rhesus monkey’s need for comforting touch,  the recognition of the need for affective touch leading to the development of special cuddleable robots for hospitalised children,   the recognition by the marketing community of the importance of touch in selling (extend it to selling a person as being caring),  the link between childhood experiences of touch and adolescent social and emotional development, and the link between physical aggression and touch deprivation including touch in adolescence.  Stir in a dose of any of the films of primates de-escalating tense situations, or doing “group bonding activities”.  Add awareness of the busy family using electronics to babysit, and of  families where non-aggressive, non-sexual touch is rare for less socially accepted reasons.

What does this  say about the no-touch approach in school?  What are the effects of the policy being stronger  after the children are 8 years old, and its being stronger for men in teaching?

Entirely apart from the failure to use a strong reinforcer (oxytocin release) with known links to opinion change, calming, and later cooperative behaviour;  and ignoring the chance to help children at risk of later developmental problems –

I see an unintended lesson:  teachers, especially men, are perverts, who must be prevented from molesting you by rules against their touching you.  Another blow to the social status of teachers.

All rather sad, really.  I’m sure the fashion will change eventually, but at the moment – so sad.

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