I have been manically busy studying for my degree, so it’s been a minute since I last blogged. However, today I was drawn in to a Facebook debate (seems to be Facebook’s only purpose now!). The subject matter surrounded an article regarding a wonderful young school girl in the UK, who has been disciplined by her school for her hairstyle. Now this really grinds my gears.
Firstly, the focus and moral to the entire article should have been that this young girl chose to have her beautiful locks chopped off for the sake of charity, resulting in a closely cropped style (is this not also sexist also, as boys have cropped hair?!). This caring individual simply wanted to perform a selfless act in the hopes of raising money and awareness to a subject close to her, and to millions of others. Yes, her single act of kindness will not cure cancer, we all know that. But the fact of the matter is that someone as young as this cares. A sure-sign of hope for humanity, that the next generations have not all but given up in a society that seems intent on breaking individuals.
Secondly, I had similar experiences during my time at school. I can readily admit that unlike this girl, my choices in hairstyle/appearance were purely for a selfish form of expression. I was hoping to find my identity, I was rebelling, I was seeking something that was missing from my life. And I was quite extreme. I had facial piercings, crazy coloured hair, outlandish hairstyles, and often I flouted the uniform rule. Now, in those circumstances I now see the need to correct some of my choices in behaviour. However, more and more often schools are making it part of their policies to control students hair styles/colour and even lengths!
Honestly, how is this allowed in a modern society? I no in many American schools uniform is not part of the requirements. Something I can final agree with in America (sorry!!). In the UK it is something we are forced to adhere to from relatively early on in our school journeys. I am not by any means saying that uniforms are a problem, I actually understand its purpose when you consider the issues ‘non-uniform’ attire brings to the table i.e bullying, competitiveness, peer pressure to have the best of the best etc. But uniform in my eyes only constitutes clothing. By no means should an educational institution have the right to decide how an individual being should wear their hair.
Anyway, back to the Facebook debate. I was obliged to view some comments, and even added my own 2 pence worth out of sheer frustration. Upon which I received a comment that ‘children must learn to conform’. This statement unexpectedly hit me like a ton of bricks and riled me to my core. At what point was it decided that all children must conform?! Conform to what precisely?! This in my humble opinion was a very generalised, blanket statement.
Now do not get me wrong – I work in early years education – I more than understand the needs for structure, rules and for children to understand that they are to be followed for a reason. As responsible adults our job is to teach them those reasons, to enable them to grow and understand why. However, is it not also our job to enrich children’s lives with the information and skills to make their own unique choices? Are we not supposed to grow and develop into forward-thinking, ambitious, successful and creative beings who are able to live with freedom of thought? It baffles me that ‘conformity’ is now what is expected. I actually despise the word. It robs individuals of identity.
Just to clarify my thoughts a little more, I am not saying 5 year old’s should be given the freedom to go to the hair salon and do as they wish. I’m hoping people use their logic and understand I’m more so speaking of those young adolescents who are coming into their own at 13 or 14 and are seeking ways to express themselves. They are already forced into a standardised school system for potentially 16 years, made to learn exactly the same curriculum as their peers, before being sent off into the real world and expected know what to work as the rest of their lives. Why in the world are we forcing everyone to fit into this imaginary little box that ‘society’ deems as the correct way to be.
Rather than celebrating and encouraging children to be unique, think creatively an outside of the box, we are instead stifling them, teaching them that ‘you must all look, act and dress the same’, is this North Korea?
What is it that about individuality that frightens society so much? More importantly, when did we hand over our rights to choose to the school bodies?
Perhaps these schools should spend some time examining their policies relating to bullying rather than conformity?
I would love to hear other opinions and experiences on this matter.