Schools majoring in the minor

September 09, 2016

Schools majoring in the minor

Three-year-old Zavier Assam is reportedly being denied entry into the Hopefield Prep School because the school or its vice principal apparently has a problem with his hair, or more specifically, how he wears his hair.

The problem has been building towards this flash-point since June when the youngster's mother, Dr. Penelope Amritt, applied to have him registered at the school. Amritt reported that when she "put in a picture of my three-year-old boy" the vice-principal said 'he can't come to the school with his hair like that, it has to be cut'."

She describes her child's hair like this: "Just below their ears, curly and it is let out in a little afro".

The vice-principal, she said, argued that she feels that boys should cut their hair because it's untidy and dirty.

The school has since come out in support of the vice-principal saying the child wearing his hair in that manner is not consistent with the school's policy.


reserve comment


"Whilst we are disturbed by several allegations made publicly, we reserve comment upon them and assure the public that Hopefield's teachers and administration have always been committed to doing their best for our students, and continues so to do," the school said in a press release.

Notwithstanding that statement from the school, the stance is still discriminatory.

Here's why.

Even though the school's position is consistent with what the vice principal articulated, that she reportedly also said "she feels" that the boy should cut his hair suggests a clear bias.

When I was going to prep school afros were in but we also had Caucasian boys in school who had long curly hair. It didn't affect anyone and it certainly didn't affect their ability to learn. In the newspaper report I read, the vice principal, according to the frustrated parent, also asked why the child would want to have his hair like that.

Again bias.

Last week at Calabar's orientation the vice principal told the boys there that they all had to have the same hair style. Low cut to the point of being nearly bald. I think she mentioned something like 'think army'. I remember standing there thinking, "Why?"


individual expression


Kids are already required to wear uniforms, and that's okay, but hair can sometimes be a form of individual expression; a symbol of difference because while everyone will look the same while at school, in reality they are all different. They come from different backgrounds and have different likes and dislikes. They could also be from cultures and have vastly different ambitions.

The great irony of it all is that after school days are over, society then turns around and tells them that if they want to succeed they have to think outside the box. But how is that even possible when all their school lives they are told that they have to look the same and be the same.

Yes, schools have rules but rules don't always make sense which is why they can be changed.

Most times these rules are made by people who want to impose their biases on everyone. If the rules about hair made any sense then girls attending co-ed schools would have to cut their hair in the same style too if they were to conform to uniformity.

Uniformity is good when you are dealing with machines, but kids are people and people are different.

Schools needs to focus instead on finding creative ways of teaching our children to read, write, and to think critically. Kids need to start becoming more aware of the creative forces building inside and how to bring those forces to the surface.

These are not the dark ages. Children don't need to look the same, think the same and be the same to be good students. It is the difference in each individual that will make each a shining light in their own way.

We need to remember that these are kids in school, not the army.

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