Students Choose Holding Hands As Punishment for Fighting
Two male students got into a fight at Westood High School in Mesa, Arizona. The principal decided to give these students an option – either get suspended or hold hands for one hour in front of other students. Both students chose to hold hands and forgo the suspension. Sounds innocent enough. However, during the one hour punishment, fellow students laughed at them, mocked them and called them names. Students took pictures and placed them on social media sites.
Point: These two boys fought on school grounds. The principal tried to think of a creative alternative other than the easy 2 days of suspension and missed school time. While unconventional, I am sure the principal wanted to teach a lesson that runs contrary to violence, aggression and fighting. He decided holding hands would fit the bill. He presented the options to the students and gave them the choice. The principal did not “force” them to hold hands, the students chose it. The principal nor the two boys could foresee how immature the other students would act.
Counterpoint: Even though the students “chose” this form of punishment, it was cruel and unusual punishment. Some say it invited taunting and teasing. Some say that two males holding hands is not an appropriate form of punishment because it offends gay individuals and sends the wrong message. In addition, the principal should have run this punishment by the school board before-hand and he should have forseen how this whole incident would play itself out in these modern times.
Author’s Perspective: To be honest, I don’t know if this was good leadership that showed creativity or poor leadership that lacked insensitivity. What sparked my interest in this story is what happened next: 1) The school board began talking about firing the principal. 2) In response, the students showed their unity for their principal by (get this) holding hands to create a massive human link of support. They even made t-shirts for the protest that read, “Keep Calm – Hold Hands.” Using irony and metaphor to make such a powerful point is genius. Here is their point – you don’t fire someone based on one controversial decision. Stop burning people at the stake because they tried something outside the box. For if you do, only leaders without imagination or courage will remain!
1) What is your opinion about how the principal handled this incident? If you were the principal, what would you have done?
2) If you disagree with the punishment of the principal, do you think he should have been fired?
3) Do you feel the principal had good intentions or did he deliberately do this to humiliate them?
4) Maybe the punishment wasn’t the problem. Maybe the problem was the students’ response to the punishment. What level of blame should the student body take for teasing and harassing the boys?
5) If this is a learning point, what did you learn from this entire incident?