School uniforms and religion

Pub philosopher is annoyed at religious challenges to school uniforms:

Yet another schoolgirl has found religion and is taking advantage of the current climate in which the authorities flinch in the face of religious demands. Following the example of Muslim and Christian pupils, a Sikh girl is invoking her rights in an attempt to overturn a perfectly reasonable school uniform rule.

I disagree with him. Firstly, this is not about a school uniform, it’s about a school’s policy on jewellery (more on this later).

Secondly, rules enforcing a school uniform are not “perfectly reasonable”. The reasons given for school uniforms — that they promote a school identity and prevent people getting jealous of others’ more expensive or more fashionable clothes — apply equally as well to the nation as a whole, but if the government attempted to make all adults wear a national uniform, they would get kicked out by the voters at the next election, and rightly so.

Thirdly, the school’s jewellery policy, this:

The only two forms of jewellery that girls were allowed to wear in school were a wrist watch and one pair of plain metal stud earrings.

seems hard to justify on principled grounds. If wrist jewellery is OK if it tells the time, what’s objectionable about wrist jewellery that doesn’t tell the time? If a girl’s wrist watch stops working, must she then take it off? If studs on ear piercings are OK, why not studs on other piercings? No doubt the reply to this last question would amount to “other piercing are unconventional and not so much a part of mainstream culture as ear piercings”; this is an entirely reasonable answer if you see the purpose of schools as making people into obedient, rule-following worker drones for the system, but less so if you think that education should create active, inquiring, flexible, intelligent minds able to cope with the challenges of the 21st century.

I don’t object to kids coming to school wearing any clothes or with any jewellery (or anything else) they like, unless it disrupts their or others education. The one thing I would object to is them coming to school with the attitude that they don’t want to learn, and if they did they should either have the attitude beaten out of them, or be expelled.

What I do find objectionable is religious groups attempting to use their religion as a reason not to obey rules. It’s like they are saying “we’re a religion, so the rules shouldn’t apply to us”, as if believing a load of superstitious nonsense somehow makes them superior people. If they were instead saying “this is a stupid rule, no-one should have to obey it”, I would have more sympathy with them.

This entry was posted in Britain, education, religion and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to School uniforms and religion

  1. Jennie says:

    “What I do find objectionable is religious groups attempting to use their religion as a reason not to obey rules. It’s like they are saying “we’re a religion, so the rules shouldn’t apply to us”, as if believing a load of superstitious nonsense somehow makes them superior people. If they were instead saying “this is a stupid rule, no-one should have to obey it”, I would have more sympathy with them.”

    Agreed

  2. elementaryteacher says:

    I think you have not thought of the safety considerations regarding jewelry (American spelling). We restrict gold jewelry because it often gets lost or stolen at school when it is removed by the child for others to try on, OR removed for P.E., OR just broken and the like at school. At our school, all necklaces are forbidden, and earrings may consist of small studs or very small loops (discouraged) so that earrings don’t get ripped out of ears either in sport, in changing, or by other kids….. Gold rings and bracelets are forbidden for the same reasons–we don’t want expensive jewelery lost or damaged at school. We would not have any problem with a plastic, or other non-noise-making item. If it disturbed class, we’d ask the student to remove it, and return it to them at the end of the day. We no longer allow watches to be worn until Grade Four, as most of the younger students wearing them just play with them all the time, let them beep in class, and often lose them.

    Remember that most rules were made originally for a REASONABLE reason, such as a solution to a problem.

    Eileen
    Dedicated Elementary Teacher Overseas
    elementaryteacher.wordpress.com

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s