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Day: January 15, 2013

Why are schools trying to turn children into robots?

Did you hear about the girl who was put into isolation for having pink tips in her hair? It is a story that is all too common and one that really gets me hot under the collar. It has been a while since I was boarding school buses and going to a compulsory education establishment day in, day out but one thing I do remember is back then I seemed to have a bit more latitude with how I looked. Not that I ever had crazy hair or anything but others did and there wasn’t too much hassle.

I know the old Al Murray saying, ‘Rules is Rules’ but on the flip side what is the role of a school? Is it to educate the young of today and get them ready for the world or is it to educate the young of today and go whatever it takes to get the best exam results possible? I argue the former and part of that is nurturing youngsters individuality and creativity. My old High School is now a College apparently so I had a look at their website and had a look at their aims for students:

Our aims are those of the Island Innovation Trust. We are committed to:

• Ensure all students achieve to their full potential.
• Encourage all students to have strong aspirations for their future.
• Promote health, welfare and safety of all students.
• Develop a learning environment which promotes:
• Independent learning
• High expectations
• Creativity
• Individuality
• Enjoyment
• Practical learning opportunities
• Enterprise

Then I looked at their uniform policy and what students are not allowed to do:

The following items are NOT allowed:

 Denim, leather or suede (or similar looking materials) coats/jackets or multicoloured outdoor clothes
 Shorts, leggings or skinny fit trousers (except PE shorts worn for lessons)
 Canvas leisure shoes, deck shoes or boots
 Trainers, (only to be used in PE)
 Cloth Badges on indoor or outdoor clothes
 Inappropriate makeup
 No jewellery to be worn, except a watch and one earring up to 5mm in each ear.
 No other piercings are allowed.
 Hair must be worn in an appropriate style.
 No extreme styling or designs of hair or eyebrows e.g. lines, intricate patterns. Only hair of one natural colour allowed and no false nails or coloured nail varnish is allowed.

Something didn’t add up. They want to encourage creativity and individuality but look at some of the restrictions students are faced with. Look I am fine with students having a uniform mainly because if students could wear what they wanted it could easily lead to bullying with people looking down on kids who wore non-fashionable clothes etc. but what is wrong with people showing individuality through hair colour?

Also not listed here but hooded tops are not allowed and students wearing them will not be allowed into the school. I mean are we for real? Have we got to the stage where we want to stifle the youth of today to such a dramatic degree? Imagine spending 16 years of your life not being allowed to experiment with your hair or being nurtured to explore your own identity? I know not everyone explores there own identity through hair colour or piercings or whatever but that is a huge part of growing up.

Does having pink dye really change anyone’s learning environment? If a girl has pink tips will the rest of the class spend lessons designing their own hair colour schemes or designs? In the article the school in question doesn’t even allow shaved heads. Carisbrooke College says that hair must be worn in an appropriate style but as a teenager I grew my hair long. Would that be appropriate or not? When I grew my hair was is distracting for other people?

I’d love to see young people encouraged by schools to explore every aspect about who they are because we are all different. School is not just about exam results but about preparing the youth of today for life after compulsory education. Growing up is hard enough without young people having their individuality and creativity straitjacketed.

When I was a lad I didn’t like school uniform. I mean who honestly did? I did see the logic behind it though but a line has to be drawn somewhere to allow young people the chance to express themselves. I hope schools can sort this out as at the moment I see a lot of people being engineered to get good exam results but good exam results doesn’t automatically mean they grow up well and balanced. At some point schools have to understand that exam results are not the be all and end all and that nurturing young people to explore themselves is just as important part of the whole educational process.

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