It cannot be gainsaid that our palaverous –– some say grandiloquent –– Minister of Education is addicted to controversy. At best, he inspires discussion; at worst, he telegraphs mixed messages.
His latest published convolution is his remarks on the breaching of the school’s dress code and his wish that principals would think thrice –– nay, not at all –– about sending students home for it, as there were more important matters to deal with.
Mr Ronald Jones’ tortuous representation would move retiring principal Matthew Farley to express his grave difficulty in separating Mr Jones the politician from Mr Jones the Minister of Education.
Uniform dress codes have always been strict by nature, and are meant to instil discipline and an appreciation for deportment order among our very young minds. And while sending a student home for noncompliance may seem extreme to some of our commentators, such punishment is hardly pronounced unless several warnings have been issued before and ignored.
But at any rate, parents who are responsible for their children’s deportment and conduct know what the rules of dress are, and cannot be held any less liable than their offending charges –– which is not to deny that some students leave their homes in proper order, but transform their attire to the virtual salacious and indecent as far as current trends go.
Mr Jones will not be without his supporting principals and significant others that the breaching of unform guidelines is no good enough reason for suspending children and “depriving” them of their education. But to whose benefit is it if our young minds are moulded to accept that the breaking of rules in respect of their formal appearance is insignificant –– and more so when it is conveniently juxtaposed against the value of learning?
Consider this obnoxious approach to uniform acknowledgement infiltrating the Barbados Defence Force and the Royal Barbados Police Force through minds that were once able to ignore a dress code with impunity, or at the most suffer a gentle pat on the wrist. This disagreeable level of indiscipline cannot augur well for our next generation.
Yesteryear, children were taught and encouraged to respect and care for their school uniforms, to be proud of them, and to understand the consequences of not doing so. This was when teachers were left to teach, and politicians stayed mostly in the hustings. Nurturing our young minds in anything else but good habits is setting up our communities for improper public conduct by our youth.
Buoyed by a misbelief that children today are now more naturally mature in thinking and decision making, some parents, guardians, counsellors and politicians expose our charges to all manner of ill-suited thought and by no means well argued pronouncements on their behalf. This can only lead to confusing our young ones as to their true role and purpose, and expectations in their own development.
And it does not help that the leaders among us will seek escape in the notion that the growing disorder among our children is just a fad, and that like many things in vogue will fade away. The truth is more and more children are being misled –– for all the “advances” in education and career counselling.
We take no comfort in the declaration of former United States president Harry Truman, typical politician that he was, who offered the “best way” we could mould our children: “Find out what they want and then advise them to do it.”
It seems we have a fetish for adopting the worst of habits we can snatch out of America!