The Sunday Natter: a school or a prison?

Hello lovelies! In today’s Sunday Natter post it’s going to be a real personal view, and will more than likely turn into a small ranting debate in a subject (no pun intended) that I’ve wanted to discuss for a while.

Now, I’m not exactly old. Being 22 I’m still in my prime but my dire school days seem so long ago now and the changes that have taken place since I slobbed through the week days in a basic white shirt and a graffiti’d planner only shows my age with force. With my not-so little cousin starting her very first day at high school last week and all the rules and regulations she expressed to me in preparation, it got me thinking. Are schools really doing what’s best for a child or are they severely restricting their right to freedom and creativity as they grow and develop? Gone are the simple days of rolling into school still half sleepy but managing to move class to class, studying, gaining experience and expertise, hanging out with friends and having that little sideline of enjoyment that goes along with, what is most definitely, the easiest time in your young life. What used to be an ordinary school is now a college or an academy, and the roles are reversed from plain headteacher to full blown principal!

A school’s purpose is to educate, to advise and guide as a child reaches adolescence. Whether it be a state school or a private school, parents send their child to school every day knowing, and hoping they are going to benefit in the long run so why do I feel children are being stripped of self-initiative and disallowed to learn at their own pace? Admittedly, I didn’t go to the poshest of schools, it was pretty laid back and poorly run but there were set principles and people came out successful and proud without the added worry of constantly being on edge in fear of doing something wrong. Never was it as tough as it seems to be now. I wore makeup, jewellery and £1 false nails from Bodycare (cue cringing at that extremely bad chav stage), I ate pizza and cookies in the canteen and was allowed to quietly chat during a lesson but the way I perceived performance and learning and built up knowledge of not only the curriculum but real life problems were not the slightest bit affected by that.

Some of the super strict, and often over the top requirements attached to school criteria these days are, in my opinion, damn right ridiculous. Requiring a balanced and smart system with a no-nonsense attitude is understandably the correct direction to take when dealing with so many hormonal children and of course there has to be a group of directive commandments to ensure safety and maintain control but when is it just a step too far

I suppose it isn’t my place to comment on behavioural policies in a school, I’ve been a first hand witness to just how terrible one individual can be and am aware the only solution has to be a stern punishment but some of said punishments happen for the most bizarre and harsh reasons and I think that’s where the limit is reached. Getting put into detention for forgetting your pencil. Having police on site watching your every move. Being told to get a bigger bag if your satchel is too small. Then there’s the orders of unnecessary must do’s; take your outdoor coat off as soon as you enter the building, do not allow your shoes to be above the ankle (doesn’t matter if it’s awful wintery weather and you need your wellie boots), make sure you train your bladder to work during suitable teacher times and break and lunchtime, wear only black socks and black shoes with absolutely no marking, logo or diamante on them as it will cause so much sheer terror, have your water in a see through bottle so we can make sure we can trust you, and so on and so on.

Then there’s the major downfall that grinds on me, horrifies me and has me worrying about girls’ future vision of themselves and those around them every time I hear about it. Absolutely no skirts above the knee, no jewellery, no nail varnish, no skinny trousers so your body is shapeless. No unusual haircuts, no unnatural colouring of the hair, nothing more than a simple hairstyle. WHY are they sexualising children and policing their bodies? It shouldn’t be encouraged to teach girls they have to look a certain way to deserve respect and keep the crude and degrading remarks away. It’s unacceptable and I honestly think an alternative change needs to happen so we don’t make girls public property and protect them rather than reinforce the struggles of this sexualising society. Not only that, students are made to feel scrutinised and humiliated. They are aggressively robbed of personal choice and self-expression. It’s almost certain that adolescents experiment through life stages and trends, yet they can’t do that in a place they spend 90% of their hard working time. Forcing someone to look a certain way, depriving them of any contribution and taking advantage of the vulnerability of children is so wrong. I’ve known pure upset from the aggressiveness of meeting standards without any other factor taken on board. What happens if there are medical issues, religious issues, or financial issues that stop you from obeying every single policy or procedure? Being sent home and/or directly objectifying children for something that isn’t necessarily their fault could even almost be classed as cruel bullying.

School’s claim they desire to create a powerful environment free of cynicism and are unwilling to put limits on what young people can achieve, so why don’t they focus on this side of things instead of fussing around what every single person looks like as if this will have a huge impact? Treating children like inmates means they aren’t able to chill out in the one place they have the potential to strive. Albeit school isn’t about having fun, but for a child to enjoy the process of a school day, they do have to have a spring in their step. I’m certainly glad I no longer have to endure school as I doubt I’d feel at ease with everything I’d have to obstruct and give away!

What are your thoughts?

Bridie x

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