January 27, 2014 by Katia
Yesterday we celebrated Family Literacy Day here in Canada. Literacy is about the love of learning. This post I wrote back in September for the late MamaPop is about those who stand in its way.
Aaah, first week of school… Choose your favorite sappy cliché and insert here. I’m gonna go with – they grow so fast. *sigh-ish*
Last week my older son started attending Junior Kindergarten at the same school he’ll be going to in a couple of years. All week long I’d been asked the same standard parenty questions: How was your son’s first day at school? How did he like it? How did you feel? Welp. Wanna know how I really feel? After reading a couple of ‘return to school’ stories which circulated the interwebs last week, I feel like we, parents, should maybe consider updating the protocol of first-week-in-school-appropriate-questions to include: Did anyone crush your child’s dream yet? No? Well, how about their self esteem then?
Last week Fox23 News reported that a Tulsa, Oklahoma father, Terrance Parker, pulled his 7-year-old daughter, Tiana, a straight A student, out of Deborah Brown Community School, the charter school she was attending, due to an ongoing argument about her hairstyle failing to comply with the school’s dress code which states:
“Hairstyles such as dreadlocks, afros, mohawks, and other faddish styles are unacceptable.”
The school feels that could distract from the respectful and serious atmosphere it strives for – quotes Fox. When asked for her interpretation on what prompted the events, the 7-year-old was crying in front of the cameras. They didn’t like my dreads, she finally managed to reply. *full-on-for-reals-deep-sigh*
Now let’s get over the fact that this is Fox (23) News and talk about a couple of concerns. Firstly, according to this school (and probably a few others) HAIR is part of the DRESS code. Because hey, let’s ignore the fact that yours truly has been trying to undress her head for the last
thirty something twenty three years but failed miserably because hair is NOT a clothing item, and pretend that it is! Because wouldn’t it be much easier then to claim that the way someone’s hair grows naturally, like oh I don’t know, say an afro for example, is actually a choice and your hair can, therefore, be easily taken off and removed per school’s wish? Kinda like someone’s sexuality, right? I bet the dress code covers unacceptable, distracting sexualities as well.
Secondly, OMG guys, did you know that the way someone’s hair behaves naturally could actually be deemed disrespectful? Like an afro. That’s disrespectful. What about my own frizz? Isn’t frizz like a synonym for ‘unacceptable’ in the hair world? OMGOMGOMG, I’m breaking a rule! I don’t want people at work to think that my hair is being disrespectful! *tries to undress her head once again, fails, turns to mirror* Shit, hair, we’re screwed. *turns to you* What if I pulled my hair up, so it’s out of my face? What if I pulled it into tidy little braids so I could see your face and you could see mine, would that be better? What if I added a pink bow to make it look even nicer?
Oh shit, never mind.
As if that wasn’t enough I then stumbled upon this post titled Dear Teacher, Please Don’t Crush My Son’s Dreams and it’s essentially about the same. Educators, not hair, behaving badly. In this post a fellow blogger mom talks about how her son’s speech project on the subject ‘what do you want to be when you grow up’ got graded an F for his choice of profession. Following the example of his successful mom, who is making a living blogging, the 9-year-old boy explained in detail how he planned to become a Youtuber. His hard work and sincerity in sharing his v-logging dream were dismissed because “Youtuber is not a real job, young man!”.
Our kids and us live in an era of TED Talks and TV shows like Glee, which encourage diversity and creativity. We share this era with so many of our kids’ caring, enlightened and dedicated educators, yet some seem to cling to an archaic perception which glories conformity and conformism as the educational system’s main value whether it means having the same hairstyle as “everyone”, regardless of the fact that there is no such thing as a monolithic “everyone” anymore, or having the same profession as “everyone”.
Last week I’ve sent my son to his future school for the first time. My usually extroverted firecracker 4-year-old wrapped himself around my leg and made it clear he wasn’t going to let go. As the school doors were opening to take in the steady stream of his excited and anxious peers, I urged him to follow his teacher, worried that they would lose sight of each other as he got distracted. I saw him turn to me with a question mark in his eyes, flustered, not himself, fighting off tears. And I wasn’t allowed to follow. For safety reasons. I had to abide by the rules. I had to assume that his safety – physical and emotional is in the hands of school now. I had to accept the rules and assume that the purpose of rules is to protect him and I did. I’m glad I didn’t read the stories about Tiana and the 9-year-old boy that day.
It’s been almost five months since I originally published this post. I’m glad to report my son has a wonderful teacher. How about your children?