Tag Archives: school

Keeping school out of the kids’ hair

Is it just me, or are schools getting completely out of hand, becoming more and more intrusive with each and every passing day?

There are a couple of stories floating around that have caused me to start wondering about that.

In the most disturbing one of those a California district has apparently hired a firm to monitor their students’ use of social media, nominally in an attempt to keep an eye for a series of problems and behavioral issues (after all, they have to make it sound like they are acting on their students’ best interest), but in practice intruding on their students lives beyond the classroom. The thing is that while keeping kids safe is a worthy goal (bullying and suicide are pressing issues), I don’t like the way schools are intruding on the kids’ lives outside of school. Call me old-fashioned, but as far as I’m concerned that’s what parents are supposed to be for, though at the same time I do realize that too many parents are too busy to care, and more than happy to have the schools step in. The problem is that there doesn’t seem to be a way for parents (or students) to opt out of that kind of monitoring (not that I would trust a school to respect such a decision to opt out).

The second story is more circumscribed. It is about a little girl who was told by her school that her dreads were unacceptable, and whose father decided to yank her out of that particular school instead (good for him). Setting aside the racism such a policy entails (afros were also explicitly forbidden), there is the fact that some of these policies focusing on the kids hairstyles that are written into many schools’ dress codes fail to take into account that, unlike clothes, hairstyles cannot necessarily be done and undone on a whim. Children may be able to change their clothes as soon as they get home, but they can neither uncut nor redye their hair in a similar fashion, and dreads are not exactly a hairstyle that can be changed in a matter of minutes. That means that by regulating hairstyles in the classroom schools are intruding in their students’ lives long after they’ve left the premises, and it is there that I feel that they have crossed the line.

Yes, a dress code can be a good idea, at least up to a point, but there is a problem when it comes to their definition of dress. Regulate clothes? Sure, kids can change those as soon as they get home. Require some standards of hygiene? Fair enough (as long as you make some accommodations for those students whose situation does not allow them to comply, and do it in a way that does not stigmatize those students), but leave the kids’ hairstyles out of it.

After all, as important as school may be in a child’s life, it is the parents job to parent that child, and schools should really learn when to get out of their students’ hair.

On Reading as a Writer

Okay, so I have been blogging about what I read under the heading of ‘reading as a writer’ for almost two months now, but up until now I haven’t really stopped to explain what I mean by that.

As I have said more than once, I am an avid reader, some times writer and full-time misfit… and the order of those statements does matter. You see, being a reader is, almost by definition a preamble to becoming a writer (being a misfit, on the other hand, is just a bonus), but one of the things I have noticed in the last few years is that there is a considerable difference in how I approach what I read nowadays. When I was a kid I used to read just for the fun of it, that was easy enough. When I was in college I was forced to look at the scholarly aspect of things, and truth be told that one pretty much squeezed all the joy out of the experience. Reading became a chore… one I didn’t particularly care for. Yes, I had one great teacher that made me appreciate whatever it was that we were studying –a cantankerous old bastard who insisted on handwritten papers and actually cared deeply about each and every one of his students– but unfortunately he was the exception, not the norm. Still, he was there, and that kept me from becoming disenchanted with literature altogether. That was stage two. Stage three kind of crept up on me and it was born out of a combination of two different factors. After stage two I had gone back to reading just for the joy of it, and I was finally free to explore my own interests, but at the same time I had already discovered fanfiction. Continue reading On Reading as a Writer