Don’t raise ill-disciplined adults

2017-08-01 06:00

The decision by Wynberg Boys’ School to insist that one of its learners conform to the school’s regulations when it comes to hairstyle has sparked off a debate on social media on whether it is racism or discipline.

If the rules apply across the board to all children of all races, then the rule should not be seen as racist. If the style “stepping” can be done on all types of hair, from what I hear, then it has nothing to do with hair texture or custom. The question that we should be asking is: Would permitting this style of hairdo veer the school towards allowing children to indulge in fashion when it comes to school dress codes? If the school does allow its learners to indulge in fashion in school attire, it could open up the flood gates to other styles. This could eventually lead to changing the entire attire.

If the aim of uniformity is to guard against subtle but damaging fashion competition and to institute discipline, then there might be merit in stipulating what is acceptable and what is not when it comes to school dress code.

I recall listening to an American psychology professor talking about a vitamin that our children are not getting, which is the cause of so much ill-discipline amongst our children and youth. He called it vitamin N for “No”.

About 25 years ago a poor single mom brought her child to me, asking me to speak to him because he demanded a pair of Pepe jeans to wear to his matric exams because everyone else was going to wear it. He did not want to feel left out amongst his peers.

His mother worked in the leather industry and earned a meagre R300 a week under difficult conditions. She could not afford to buy such an expensive pair of jeans but the child was adamant.

I tried my best to instil in the young man’s mind the principle that clothes should not determine who you are and that his poor mother was struggling to keep the family alive. I am not sure whether the child took my advice, but that consultation remains very vivid in my mind ’til today.

I have never supported the trend of expensive matric balls and I am pleased that both my children agree with me that it is a waste. I know many others would disagree with me.

Failure to instil discipline from an early age will cost us dearly and make brutes of our children when they become adults. Dress code is part of discipline. Pilots and police have to be in uniform as a sign that they are in charge.

Finally, school rules should be written by governing bodies made up of parents from all races to ensure that the rules are just and equitable.

Dr EV Rapiti Kenwyn

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