Uniformity And Conformity In School Culture

The remarks by Nokwanda Khuzwayo concerning pupils’ culture at schools (Mercury, November 23) provide insight into the decline of discipline in schools.

Khuzwayo argues that teachers have no right to “disrespect” what a particular culture upholds and adduces hair length as an example. Negotiation and compromise on an individual basis, Khuzwayo asserts, should be the way to handle cultural differences.

Obviously, some leeway has to be provided where critical religious obligations may apply. But essentially school discipline is premised on uniformity and conformity. One cannot condone dreadlocks for one pupil and prescribe short back and sides for another.

All properly established schools have school rules and an ethos to uphold. If an applicant for enrollment finds that he or she cannot abide by a school’s code of conduct, then that applicant should move on and find a school that is compatible or compliant with his or her culture.

Excessive democratisation and liberalisation in schools has undermined and, in many cases, crippled disciplinary parameters. Conformity and uniformity in the formative years of life is necessary in producing order in society. The reason there is social malaise and meltdown nowadays is because discipline has been eroded and neglected in homes. The products of those “homes” and their “anything goes” attitudes then expect toleration and latitude in schools.

Unless pupils respect and accept the conformity and uniformity that should underpin school discipline, schools can toss their codes of conduct in the bin.

Sent into The Mercury and published,  25 November 2017.

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