3.19.2012

Myth of socialization, silent lunch at public school

Food not the worst part of school lunch / Chidorian
When I first read about a no-talking during lunch policy at some schools, I thought it must be an urban legend. The idea of a silent lunch period seemed too unreasonable. The lunch period is one of the few times during the day when school children are allowed to socialize, right?

By definition, to socialize is

1. To place under government or group ownership or control.
2. To make fit for companionship with others; make sociable.
3. To convert or adapt to the needs of society. 

Now that doesn't sound very fun. By that definition, silent lunches are, indeed, socializing.
As I said, though, I didn't think schools would actually make children spend their lunch break in silence. My first search for confirmation turned up the following.

Silent lunch for punishment: At the G. James Gholson Middle School in Maryland, silence keeps the kids in line and under control. Students who were still talking were made to stand against the wall "to calm them down." (Keeping Discipline In-House. American Renaissance News, 2009).

No talking during breakfast: The Nellie Stone Community School in Minneapolis expects children to eat breakfast in silence and lunch with quiet voices and stay seated at all times (Breakfast and Lunch Program. NSJ, 2009).

No talking in the restroom: The author's son was reprimanded for talking in the restroom. Why no talking allowed in the restroom? Because it makes the students take longer in there. (Are 'No Talking' Rules in School Unreasonable? Associated Content, 2007).

No talking, assigned seats, race to eat: The author's children are unable to finish their lunches under duress. (No Time for School Lunch. Divine Caloline).

Silence for safety: The St. Rose of Lima School in Rhode Island instituded a no talking during lunch policy after three choking incidents in the cafeteria (Rhode Island school bans talking at lunch. NCTimes.com, 2007).

Silence for a "quiet and welcoming" atmosphere: Howard Junior Public School in Toronto instituted a 20-minute silent indoor lunch period (School's no-talk lunch period leaves folks speechless. ScrippsNews, 2006)

Alas, the silent lunch policy does exist and I imagine I could find more examples if I had not lost my appetite.

Another look at the socialization myth
A-Z Education: Quiet Please

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