Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Go to School Naked

            One of my many pastimes is to point out ridiculous rules and regulations that can only exist because whoever was in authority to make rules obviously didn't take them to their logical conclusions. I certainly don’t expect the proceeding rant to alter anyone’s views significantly, but if one reader turns into a rule-maker later in life, I certainly hope they will remember at least part of the opinions stated here.
            Before I can make my statements, we must first agree on several points. Is the picture of an action the same as having that action committed? I would say yes, for the most part, or no photos would be allowed in court cases. This logic is also why child porn is illegal. A picture of illegal firearms found at a crime scene presented to a judge would be considered the same as handing the firearms to the judge for him or her to examine. This is, of course, assuming that there have been no alterations to the picture since it was taken. Next, do we assume that written words should be treated the same way spoken words are? Again, I would say yes as long as the proviso that they are not altered is met. The very reason we (humans, not Europeans or Americans) created a written language was to effectively speak to others without needing to make any audible noise or be in their presence at the time the message was received. If those two prerequisites have been satiated, let’s continue. If they haven’t been, please leave a comment telling me why they aren’t. I love reading dissenting opinions with legitimate reasoning behind them more than reading those of people who agree with me. A brief discussion on this topic with a member of the school staff has shown that the administration does not believe photos are the same as actions.
            Our yearbooks came out recently, and I would approximate about half the photos, excluding the headshot class photos, contained either a student breaking dress code or participating in an activity that would be deemed against school rules like texting. This leads me to ask two questions: Why was this yearbook allowed to be published when it contained what would be considered too lewd or evil in public in photographic form? and why weren't the students who took the photos punished for assembling such a yearbook since they spent a large amount of time using school computers to compile pictures of girls in Nike shorts, shirtless guys playing ultimate Frisbee, and students with their phones out in class?
            The school system has created rules by fiat that obviously have no beneficial effect on the student body. If not allowing students to expose parts of their body, a body that in no way is owned by the school system, in ways that aren’t even against the laws authorized by the country is supposed to in some way make school a more congenial learning environment, it is nullified by allowing the students to dress how they want outside of school since they are still students until they graduate, and it is again nullified by allowing those students to be free from dress code when participating in physical activities. Basically, the school says gorgeous legs are only a distraction to guys if the guys aren’t in PE at the time. Right, because that’s exactly how hormones work. I won’t even start on how athletic uniforms are exempt from dress code regulations; everyone knows more fantasies happen at the sight of a cheerleader skirt than at the sight of last season’s Abercrombie jean shorts.
            We now move on to literature. I've read Beloved for English, and the book is rife with graphic scenes of rape, violence, and language. However, if I chose to have a casual conversation with a friend in class about his or her sexual encounter last night (I’m straight edge so it wouldn’t be me we were talking about), we would be reprimanded. It isn’t any different than what we’re required to put in our minds by the school. The only difference is that the words are being spoken and not written. Apparently what a teenager can be required to read and be tested on he or she is not allowed to repeat, even to the teacher who required the teenager to read the material in the first place.
            The preceding statements leave the establishment with two logical choices: enforce strict rules pertaining to what every student can read, listen to, act like, and wear until they graduate or remove the rules that aren’t even legitimately enforced in the first place. If they do nothing, the establishment appears unintelligent on several levels because they can’t even consistently decide on what is a transgression and what is not. My hope is that the generation after my own steers them toward the side of more freedom, because I’m done with high school tomorrow, and I wouldn't want to be part of the bloodshed if they tried to limit the freedoms of youthful spirits.

I am not condoning lascivious or perverse speech or attire. Personally, I'm very conservative in  my language and clothing except for general bathroom humor and a propensity for tank tops. There just is no reason for someone else to dictate how others should live.

-Jason Rossiter

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  1. I enjoyed reading this and am as much a fan of the school bureaucracy as your are. My high school goes further than yours (at least based on what you mentioned) by outlawing flip-flops and torn jeans and making students wear ID badges at all times.

    With that said, I would say there are a few reasons why there are rules to prevent people from going into class shirtless or in short shorts/skirts. With teenage hormones raging, exposure of the body can distract students from their professor while a lesson is being taught. Having others around you with exposed skin during the lesson increases the risk of distraction more than something you saw last night at a football game. I would argue that eliminating this distraction in the classroom is NOT "nullified by allowing students to dress how they want outside of school" like you suggest because students do not have the opportunity to listen and learn from their professor while outside of class.

    You argue that the school "says gorgeous legs are only a distraction to guys if the guys aren’t in PE at the time." I think that the school recognizes that gorgeous legs can distract guys at all times, but the school wants to eliminate that distraction in the classroom and recognizes that eliminating that distraction outside the classroom -- even at school sponsored events -- is unfeasible. This would explain why the rule doesn't exist or isn't enforced outside of class. In addition, eliminating that distraction outside of the classroom has less benefit than eliminating that distraction in the class room (see above paragraph).

    I agree with you on your point about discussions between friends as long as the discussion is not so loud that other students will hear it even if they don't want to.

    I agree with Matt's assertion in the FB comments that sometimes administrators make rules to deflect criticism from others. These rules often don't make sense and aren't enforced. Administrators also makes rules as a reaction to one time events in which students found loopholes in rules. The resulting rule is necessary for maybe a month but then remains on the books for many years.

    To recap, I dislike the school bureaucracy but understand its rules about exposing too much skin in class (not rules against flip flops). I don't think those same rules should be applied at school events (e.g. football games), and I think there is a difference between enforcing those rules in class as opposed to out of class.

    end rant.

  2. I cannot begin to comprehend what pain one must suffer if they can't wear ripped clothing or flip flops since both of those make up the majority of my wardrobe.

    The problem with your own statement about exposed skin being a distraction is that it is not always ruled out within class. Cheerleaders wear skirts that can make them appear to more naked than if they actually were so while, for us, anything - even something in extremely unattractive patterns or colors - that isn't the uniform of a school group and stops above the knee is technically against school policy. So, even in the classroom, the rules aren't upheld.

    For your response pertaining to legs being allowed in PE classes, I would believe that anything hormone stimulating in the PE setting would be a larger distraction. If we may speak crudely for a moment, when a standard teenage male is adorned with gym shorts and sees a beautiful girl in almost nonexistent shorts, it would cause him to instantly think about nothing but old people and dead puppies or face humiliation for the affects on the male body that are visible from such stimulus. While in a classroom setting, everyone is seated and free from embarrassment at such an event. The administration should enforce the dress code more strictly in PE situations than classroom situations if they truly care for a more disciplined and smoothly flowing class atmosphere.

    I hope I didn't lose you with that; please FB me if I befuddled you. -Jason Rossiter

  3. I agree that teachers do not always enforce dress code. When of my teachers actually told us that he told the principal that he would never enforce dress code. Our principal told him that she understood (because of potential sexual harassment charges). I am just saying that I see the rationale for the dress code and that enforcing them in the classroom would have some merits (not that those rules are always enforced).

    I don't see the correlation between stimulation in PE class and a worse classroom learning environment. Even if there is a correlation, I think the correlation is greater between in class stimulation and a worse learning environment (greater distraction from the lesson). Therefore, it would make more sense to enforce dress code in class (real class) rather than in PE class. Or at least, this is the line of logic I think the school is taking (not that its right). But then the school should enforce dress code in class (which we agree it doesn't always do).

    I think we can agree that the actions of a school's bureaucracy often don't make sense.

    Enjoyed the conversation. - Aaryaman