Dunce Move ... Blocking persons with tattoos from working as teachers ridiculous

September 02, 2016
File A woman receives a neck tattoo in Copenhagen, Denmark.
File Senator Ruel Reid, Minister of Education.

Dunce Move

... Blocking persons with tattoos from working as teachers ridiculous

Sometimes I wonder if I am living in the twilight zone. I woke up this week and heard some stories about school administrators being urged not to hire teachers with tattoos.

According to reports, Education Minister Ruel Reid urged school administrators to closely scrutinise persons applying for teaching positions before hiring them.

"Principals are being urged to look at the way potential teachers dress, and whether they have tattoos before hiring them," a report on Radio Jamaica said.

"You have to put them in a simulated way to see how they would respond to your difficult students; the emotional intelligence that they possess; how they dress; no tattoo all over their bodies," the minister said.

I get the part about emotional intelligence, having gone through an experience last year when my teenage son had to endure some of his teachers' lack of emotional intelligence as he tried to come to grips with the tragic passing of his mom.


Emotional intelligence


They treated him like he was the worst person in the world, when all he needed was some understanding. He was angry and confused, but typecast as a misbehaving child, which didn't help. So, yes, we need more teachers with developed emotional intelligence.

I also get the part - to a point - about how teachers dress. Every workplace has a dress code of some sort so, hey, if that is what it is, it is what it is.

But how does having tattoos exclude one from getting a job that they are qualified for? I have never seen a teacher whose entire body is covered by tattoos, but I have seen people with tattoos who are teachers. I am not a fan of 'tats', but I get why some people have them.

I have friends who have 'tats' as tributes to their moms, a loved one who has died, to celebrate the birth of a child, and so on. I know people who have had an entire arm decorated in tribute to people who have been inspirations in their lives; people who have helped them achieve their full potential.

So, based on what the minister of education is saying, these people would be excluded from being employed as teachers?

If this is the case, then, are we saying we would not employ someone who is a gifted teacher just because he or she has some tattoos? If this is what the minister is saying then, I would suggest that this is not only discriminatory, but absolutely mind-numbingly ridiculous.


Common sense


But then, this country has never been known to be a bastion of reason and common sense. In a time when many people see teaching as a profession of last resort, you would think we would be trying to get as many of the really good ones into the classroom to help our kids build a proper educational foundation.

What we seem to be choosing to do is to further alienate people in a society where so many others have already been marginalised.

From where I sit, that is just not smart.

It's why sometimes I think I am living in the twilight zone because the decisions that are being made in the so-called interest of our children have no basis in logic. They seem to be made on a whim depending on who we like or don't like.

And that is just a loony kind of way to go about trying to build a smarter nation.

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