Go away, give me a chance to miss you: Do candle restrictions cause kids to rebel against them?

Sometimes a tired candle needs just a small caffeine hit to get that flame burning again. That teacher should be able to go to the staff room and use the vending machine to get herself a soft drink, right? Wrong. Why? “Because it’s setting a bad example for the kids”.

Personally, I think it’s setting a bad example for kids to be dishonest. To pretend that we don’t, on occasion, enjoy sugary treats and the odd afternoon nap and other small “naughty” indulgences.


November 1, 2006: Treats! by Matt McGee on Flickr under CC BY-ND 2.0

After all, did prohibition stop people from drinking alcohol? Ah, nope! Many would argue that by taking things away from people, in fact, they only want it more. That fences and barriers just encourage children to rebel against the restrictions.

(This is certainly what is implied in the lyrics of Pink’s song, “Leave me alone (I’m lonely)” which inspired the title for this post.)

Is it our job to teach about health and wellbeing? Absolutely. We have certain responsibilities. We are accountable.

But, as Cook, Pachler & Bachmair (2011) put it, “schools are on the one hand a moulding feature of social and individual life; on the other, they are undergoing a transformation as a result of changes in the world at large towards individualisation, mobility and convergence.” (p 181).

So, I don’t think a well-rounded education, which reflects this transformation,  would involve the encouragement of children to bury their heads in the sand; to avoid any possible exposure to “negative influences”.

There are also conservative thinkers who advocate for the banning of certain books. Any books that attempt to deal with controversial affairs. Issues that we would rather our children not know about.


Against Banned Books (Please Spread This Pic & The Text) by florian.b on Flickr under CC BY-NC 2.0

Instead of attempting to navigate the blurry lines and complexities of moderation and balance, we instead inflict blanket bans and rob youth of an education for the real world.

Here I would argue that these decisions are more selfish than altruistic.

We aren’t “protecting” young people. We just don’t want to have to shoulder the responsibility of addressing and dealing with topics that make us uncomfortable. We want to keep our candle light small and manageable.

But these are the very subjects, and objects, that go viral through social media and popular culture because young people are desperately searching for an arena where they can ask their questions, speak their mind, explore the world around them freely. To discover their truth. Without censorship.


Vitruvian by Mr.Enjoy on Flickr under CC BY 2.0

How do you shine a high beam light on an idea? Promote its absence from the curriculum, rather  than its inclusion. The frenzy created by the “not knowing” will guarantee its popularity.

Want to, instead, show students where to look without telling them what to see?

Then don’t hide things. In fact, don’t hide anything.


Cook, J., Pachler, N. & Bachmair, B. (2011). Ubiquitous mobility with mobile phones: A cultural ecology for mobile learning. E-Learning and Digital Media 8(3), 181-195.

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  1. I can relate to this post as I am about to write a collection policy for my school library. I’ve been worrying about the “challenged materials” section of the policy. I believe that a collection must represent all students within a school. Being new in the position of teacher librarian, I have been slowly going through the collection in the library to get a general feel for it. I can see some holes in the collection. For example, while going through the Junior Fiction section I have found picture books that cover ethnicity, but I have not seen any books on the topics of same sex parents or blended families. I feel that in the past these would have been put in the “too hard to explain basket” and left off the shelf. While I strongly believe these topics should be part of the collection, I feel as though I will need to brace myself for the barrage of disapproval, not just from parents but perhaps even some staff members. I guess that is the beauty of policies. They are there to help me deal with and guide me through challenges that prevent children from having a voice and being represented and as you have said, “discover their truth”!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Leese68, thank you for your comment. As you say, forewarned is forearmed, and studying your Masters will no doubt have given you plenty of research-backed material to fall back on if challenged. The students, who read those books and develop a conscience, or become better informed, or decide to fight against an equality, will thank you for being inclusive in your policy. If not literally, you’ll still be able to see them shine and know that it was because of you.


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