Maria’s Midweek Mindfulness Moments

With the holiday season tucked behind us, it’s generally a time to focus on the New Year ahead. With lots of interesting things to look forward to in the next few months, I am practising staying on track, mindfully. And, once in a while something unexpected pops up that cannot be ignored.

When I read articles like the one in the link below I believe it is really important that we collectively object to the upholding of rules that do not serve.

Just before schools broke up for the Christmas holidays, a school in Brighton insisted that pupils could only wear coats with the school logo due to “safety and equality” reasons. Many schools in the UK have school uniforms and policies that go with them but unfortunately for the children of this particular school, the head teacher, despite the plummeting temperatures, enforced the policy to the letter, favouring the ‘official’ school coat above coats that actually kept the children warm.

The school representative initially argued that the purpose of the uniform was to ‘poverty proof’ the school so that kids don’t show up in the flashy, more expensive garb, which might cause embarrassment to the poorer children. Despite the fact that the policy was redacted it clearly demonstrates a common problem.

When communities decided to make rules it was a way to help everyone understand a framework for living together. 

I thought about writing a mild-mannered piece pointing out this fact and to gently challenge the school’s decision but that is not authentic. Instead, I’m going for an unashamed rant, so if you’re not in the mood for a rant, skip to the end now!

I felt outrage at the myopic management of a straightforward task, and disgusted that the decision makers hid behind ‘the policy’ as an excuse for their inappropriate and inhumane treatment.

So let us analyse the idea that a school can use a coat to ‘poverty proof’.

  • Do children not talk to each other or go on social media therefore already knowing who is richer than who?
  • Do we not live in a society where there are haves and have-nots, and is this not perpetuated by the mainstream?
  • Does the school really believe it treats all children fairly and equally? Is that even possible given that there is very little training on the unconscious bias?
  • Do the parents have any voice? Are they not equal members of the community?

If the school wanted to uphold such a ridiculous rule in freezing weather, the compassionate humane thing to do would be to have a stock of regulation coats to lend out and ask the parents to make a donation to charity for the loan! Or don’t we want to model compassion and humanity within a community?

RULES ARE MEANT TO SERVE LIFE. When people serve the rules no matter what the cost to our fellow community members it is clear that what is important has been replaced by bureaucracy.

Read the full article here:

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/brighton-school-bans-children-high-street-coat-brands-style-fashion-smart-patcham-high-a8108141.html

Here are some comments about the decision on Reddit:

https://www.reddit.com/r/unitedkingdom/comments/7j9772/pupils_walk_to_school_in_cold_with_no_coat_after/

My learning

I deeply regret some of the stupid rules that I upheld with my children when they were little because I now see the absolute futility. I now know that there are far better ways of teaching and sharing self-discipline, self-respect, and care for others.

Question

Have you ever upheld a rule even when it caused unnecessary upset or suffering?

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