Sun | Sep 20, 2020

Letter of the Day | School rules should evolve but maintain ethical values

Published:Saturday | August 8, 2020 | 12:18 AM


I read Peter Espeut’s article on discipline in schools, and he has some very valid points.

I went to high school in Jamaica for about six years (I repeated fifth form to get more GCE subjects). We had so many rules in school, I could hardly keep up. Some of these rules were valid, like no jewellery. Our uniforms, on the other hand, were ridiculous – long, dark-coloured skirts and wool berets, wool pants and wool blazers for the boys. But we were so busy allowing the ‘coloniser’ to define our values, we would not, or could not, figure out what worked best for us.

We, as students, complied with all of this, despite the number of detentions, but it was later changed. We evolved to lighter-coloured fabrics and no headgear, and the boys did not have to look like they lived in London.

There is no way, decades later, with the media preaching individuality, that young people are going to comply with certain rules unless they make sense. So school rules need to evolve again and again while maintaining core and ethical values.

In this current case in the media, the school needs to preach cleanliness and not ban ‘natural hairstyles’ because it is assumed that braids and locks equate to being unclean. This assumption is actually teaching African-Jamaican kids that certain ‘natural hairstyles’ have a negative connotation. Is this why in this time, we have so many people, including schoolchildren, ‘bleaching’ their skins?

There is a need for discipline that is indicative across the country. There must be school rules, but please, let’s keep evaluating these rules as time goes on.

Football coaches have been saying often that while they instil discipline in their youth players, they also give them respect to in turn be respected. Have some of our teachers and adults lost that ability?