Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Hair like Jesus wore it

As a Pre-K teacher, I am intimately, passionately aware of the need for rules and procedures. A classroom absent rules and procedures is filled instead with chaos, confusion and high blood pressure. Rules and procedures are our friends. But as with real friends, quality trumps quantity. Particularly with the younger set, the fewer rules you attempt to establish the better: Don't hurt each other, keep it to a dull roar, and if you really must play with your wiener, please go do it in the bathroom. I went to a workshop once that suggested boiling it down even further, to just one succinct rule: You can do anything you want, as long as it doesn't cause trouble. I thought of this today, when I heard about Taylor Pugh and his terribly troublesome hair.

Taylor Pugh's hair has earned him several weeks of in-school suspension. As you can plainly see, Taylor's hair has been very, very bad. It is not following the rules. That's because where Taylor goes to school, just outside Dallas in a place called 1947, students are expected "to adhere to the code of conduct." And his hair is not adhering. The district categorizes Taylor's hair as "distracting" and therefore disruptive to the learning environment. I am not making this up.

I couldn't agree more that hair can be distracting, disruptive and downright annoying. Several of my little girls wear so many beads and barrettes that my room sounds like Tito Puente's percussion section. I also have a little girl with flowing blond hair so enchanting that some of my boys will stroke it during class or tug it in line. And you should see the ruckus when the boy who normally wears tiny plaits shows up with his hair loose, which turns out to be a fabulously fluffy fro. Even I can't keep my hands out of that! I'm 45 and hair even distracts me. So I suppose we should just borrow some hair nets from the lunch ladies and get back to work. We can't have these four-year-olds distracted from the rigorous academics of Pre-K.

A school board member asked if Taylor's "parents value his education more than they value a 4-year-old’s decision to make his own grooming choices?” If you ask me, they do. It's just that their definition of education, like their son, doesn't fit inside a tidy prefab box. It appears they include radical concepts like thinking for oneself and challenging antiquated ideas that don't make sense. They also seem to be including the lesson of generosity and love, since Taylor plans to eventually donate his long locks to a charity that makes wigs for cancer patients.

Meanwhile, what is this school teaching Taylor?

PS, Hey Taylor, I like your hair. It's pretty, and I bet it's really quiet, too.


bloorondo said...

Suspension isn't as bad as execution. It is Texas, you know.

Susan said...

Give him time. You know what happens to kids who won't conform.

Anita DeCianni Brown said...

Love it Sue! Poor Taylor ~ for living in such a district, that is.

Anonymous said...

I would take my kids hair somewhere it would be appreciated, like West Sand Lake Elementary

Nurse To Be said...

Always love your blog, Susan. Poor Taylor, and poor sweet Lamya! Thanks for highlighting this story...I hadn't heard anything about it. Stephanie

Anonymous said...

Hey Susan,
Alex (Lillian) from class here. Love this piece! I especially like your repetition of phrases, with slight changes to transition into new points. One of my favorite moves. Also great use of style and humor. I'll be back for more!