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Close Shave

October 22, 2013

When I was in high-school, we had very firm rules on how long our hair could be.  If it touched the collar in back, detention.  If it went so far past the ears, detention.  It’s not like we had people running around with rulers (that was a different era), but I saw plenty of people get warned that they had to cut hair or show up after school until they did.

This one (courtesy of Reason Mag) does confuse me a bit:

About 250 pupils walked out of a Pembrokeshire school to protest against a teenager being removed from lessons after shaving his head for charity.

Rhys Johnson, 14, raised cash for cancer research after a third relative was diagnosed with the disease.

But he ended up being taught in isolation at Milford Haven School after it said he broke its haircut rules.

Look, the school has rules, and the article says the called home to say the kid would be isolated if he shaved his head.  It’s not that he was thrown out of school, just effectively put in a form of detention until his hair grows back.  It’s dumb, but I’m not sure it’s outrageous.  Curious, yes.  Outrageous, probably not.

But still, I have to wonder what possesses a school to identify a shaved head as a violation, especially since there’s a good chance that a medical issue could result in a bald head.  I’m not even talking cancer, but that’s a possibility.  If I had to guess, there’s some gang or class reasons for the school making the rule.  Regardless, when a school issues something like this in response:

“At Milford Haven School we believe it is important to maintain high standards in every aspect of school life, including uniform and appearance.”

The statement added: “While this morning’s demonstration by some pupils was disappointing and ill-advised, lessons for the vast majority of pupils continued as normal.”

Pembrokeshire Council said it was confident that the “vast majority of parents will support the school in its efforts to raise academic standards and implement school rules”.

I wonder whether the people making the rules know why they’re actually making them.

I actually admire the kid for going through, knowing that it would cause him trouble (but not school time) because he cared about a cause more than he did about dumb rules.  I can’t see where I’d have needed to grow a ponytail in high-school that would put me in after-school, and probably would have raised long-term issues.  Okay, I did have a ponytail in college, but the only issues that caused were along the lines of me looking goofy.  Anyway, the kid knew the consequences, and he was willing to accept them for a cause, and I’d be interested in seeing more first-world kids going through that thought process.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 22, 2013 10:15 am

    The recent school shooting in Sparks, Nevada was accompanied in the article by the note that the school disallowed the wearing of clothing containing red or blue, the rival gang colors.

    It seemed an attempt to address a problem from the exact wrong end. The situation you describe strikes me in a similar way, and produces an odd result if not as tragic.

    ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

    • October 22, 2013 2:00 pm

      I actually know plenty of schools that ban obvious gang colors, which is why the baseball cap took off so fast. That was ostensibly to protect students on the way to/from school. I agree it’s attempting to solve the wrong problem.

      I would bet the “no shaved head” policy started in a similar way, but I can’t tell from the geographic location.

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