Sunday, September 23, 2012

Abolish Education: School Uniforms and Other Forms of Institutional Bullying

Another aspect of education that I find harsh is school uniforms. To be honest I just don't see the point. All the arguments in favour of school uniforms just seem really vacuous. For a start smartness is just a matter of personal opinion. Why should one group of peoples idea of smartness be imposed on another? It's just pointless bullying really. I've heard stories of children being sent home from school for wearing the wrong colour socks. Just silly. How shallow is it to even care what another person is wearing. Can't we just let children go to school in whatever they feel comfortable in.

The only argument that appears to be in favour of uniforms is the idea that it prevents bullying. The argument being that if everyone's dressed the same no one can be picked on for not having the coolest clothes or whatever. However, this is a bit like saying that if everyone was white there'd be no racism 'cause everyone would look the same. Surely if children are being bullied at school because of the clothes they're wearing the problem is the 'bullying' not the 'clothes'. Bringing in a dress code doesn't cure the bullying, if fact, in many ways it just means that the teachers are doing the bullying instead of the children. Admonishing a child because they're not wearing the right colour trousers? Really? Is this really how teachers should be spending their time.

This last point brings me nicely to the wider issue here, and that's the lack of respect children get in general. It's often said that children don't respect adults, but it's actually the other way round. It's children that don't get the respect they deserve in our society. We've had women's rights and rights for other groups that have been repressed in the past, but never children rights. If we're gonna move forward as a society this really has to change.

Some people reading this may feel I'm overreacting a little and that accusing teachers of 'bullying' their pupils is a little beyond the pale. However, you've only got to look at the way children are spoken to, by both their parents and teachers, to see that this is pretty much the case;

"Look me in the eye when I'm talking to you," "Sit up straight," "How dare you answer me back and question my authority?" All sentences uttered to children on a regular basis, but can you imagine anyone ever speaking  to another adult like this? Even in strict working environments adults aren't spoken to like this. In fact, if bosses spoke to their employees the way adults speak to children they'd be taken to a tribunal.

Why do we think adults have the right to speak to children like this? We're expected to use reason and communication when dealing with other adults, without resorting to the use of force and aggression. Yet when we deal with children it's commonly accepted that we can just tell them what to do, and if they have the nerve to question our judgement then we have perfect recourse to shout and scream at them as much as we want. Well, I'm sorry, I don't agree with this. And it is bullying.

Why should a child have to "stand up straight" when a teacher enters a classroom? Why should they "only speak when spoken to"? Do teachers have more value than children?

Children are human beings, they have minds, they can be reasoned with. I think their opinions should be as valued as ours.

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