September 28, 2006

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Concord Publisher's Note: Nobody puts Baby in a corner
By†Dan Szczesny

This is the story of a repressive adult administration, unable to see beyond the barriers of class, gender and age. Instead of actually having a conversation with their children, these adults simply see a form of expression they do not understand, immediately fear nonexistent consequences, and lay down the law. Itís easier to forbid your teenagers from doing...anything...than actually trying to work with them and find a middle ground.

In other words, itís easier to treat your kids like children than the young adults they are becoming. But itís reallynot easier, as Concord High School administrators are learning the hard way.

Recently, there has been an uprising of sorts, and itís the kind of rebellion that would make Johnny Castle or Ren McCormack proud. If you are a teacher or school administrator who grew up in the 1980s, you ought to recognize those names. If not, you may be in the wrong business.

Of course the fact that nearly 150 students walked out of a Concord High School dance last week to protest a ďno grindingĒ dancing rule is serious business, but havenít we learned anything from Footloose or Dirty Dancing? Or Elvis grinding his hips? Or the Fox Trot being banned? Or flappers?

I use pop culture references to illustrate the preposterous, Machiavellian clamp down committed by the high school administrators recently to eliminate what they see as an overtly sexual style of dancing that has become popular in schools around the country called grinding. Students see it as a form of expression. School administrators see it as offensive.

So, what was the school administrationís answer? Pretty much the same as itís always been Ė overreaction to a non-problem that escalated into a national joke (our city made it to Leno) and even further split the gap between teachers and students. After the walk-out protest (which involved no violence and had the kids dancing and playing music in a local park, which apparently school administrators feel is safer than having them at the school) administrators have decided to postpone Concordís homecoming dance.

In the meantime, the story has been reprinted all over the country, with news stations and media outlets sending camera crews, basically to report on those New England Rubes who wonít let their kids dance. Cotton Mather would be proud.

This isnít the first time the school tried to intervene. Last year, administrators met with the student senate and drafted a ďdance memo of understanding.Ē No, Iím not making that up. In it, both sides agreed that students should use their best judgment on whether or not a certain kind of dancing is appropriate.

It was a lazy intervention at best that failed miserably both in terms of enforcement and in terms of being taken seriously by the student body. Real change requires real understanding, not an iron fist. The school administrationís blind march to grind the grinding into oblivion will only result in resentment at best from the student body. At worst, itís just a move toward further alienating the very teens who will no longer be able to trust their supposed role models.


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