Thursday, January 23, 2020

Everyday Ethics: Chewing Gum. Thanks Coach Pete Carroll

This semester, I came into four new sections of Moral Issues, a required Religious Studies course, with a strong focus on the written and the unwritten curriculum. While the former is prescribed—predetermined ethical matters, questions and dilemmas—the latter is what the text book might not cover. I see the unwritten curriculum as matters of right are wrong that that might not require a vote,  pertain to a political party or pass into law.  Regardless, they are worth discussing and and considering in a formal setting. Therefore, once a week I present a topic that I call "Every day Ethics/Social Norms and Mores." 
I want to thank the University of Connecticut's women's basketball coach, Geno Aureimma for speaking so directly to my first topic of import: Body Language. I asked my students Why should we care?. What messages are we communicating when we give "poor body language." What does "good body language look like." I then referenced an interview clip that went viral and planted the original seed for me.

Not knowing how these teenagers would respond, Coach Auriemma declared “We put a huge premium on body language, and if your body language is bad, you will never get in the game. Ever,” he said. “I don't care how good you are.” You can watch it here.

The first thing I heard from a student was "I love it." I wanted to hug him that very moment. 
I thought about this week's topic throughout the NFL season thanks to the example provided by the head coach of the Seattle Seahawks, Pete Carroll. Coach Carroll is known for his positivity, for being the oldest head coach in the League and for chewing gum.

Students are not allowed to chew gum at school. This rule is broken on a daily basis. Why is forbidden? What's the big deal? Is it?

I shared with my students three resources.
1. The Emily Post Institute. I thought Miss Manners would frown upon gum chewing. Quite the contrary. Granted, this advice is for adults and in the work setting. Context is everything.
2. The Educator's Room:  Students found us harsh...but I have to say, we are too often the ones scraping it from under the desk.
3. The Etiquette Guide: We agreed that this resource was the most helpful in terms of not only what to do but how to do it.
As we drew the conversation to a close, one student asked "What do you think Ms. Stricherz?" I love when they ask—because they often don't. I asked my students if they think people chew gum to gain a sense of confidence. I have often felt that a person chewing gum, in the way that perhaps Pete Carroll does, is trying to be cool, to give the perception that he or she has some sort of power. I have felt that way myself; I do not approve. I have yet to see my question and concern in writing. Should I add it to to the curriculum?!

We concluded this session with Seahawk's Quarterback Russell Wilson dressed up as his coach for Halloween. Requisite white leather shoes, 'Hawks colors, headset and of course gum included.

More unwritten curriculum to write....

Photo Credits
Pete chewing gum

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