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I 'wid' Farley

Now that the hems are down, the weave is out and the correct leather shoes have been laced and polished I want to say without any reservation that I am in Matthew Farley’s corner.

I also want to say: “Train up a child in the way it should go and when it is old is shall not depart.”

That relates to “she” too.

My disappointment was not at all with the children of the Gradon Sealy Secondary School and the way they were dressed. Actually when you look at it they dress like the majority of students from the other secondary schools. So what is the problem?

The problem is there are many Barbadians who do not know right from wrong and many principals who seem not to have the testicular-fortitude or backbone to take the stance Farley took.

“What is he sending them home to do?” “What does the uniform have to do with learning?” How come no other principal is this over-zealous?” “We can’t be asking our children to think and then making unreasonable demands of them,” were just some of the issues raised and I guess with some merit.

Nonetheless, we again seem to be failing to see the bigger picture. We are so modern and liberal and new-age in our thinking that order and everything else which has worked well for us in the past we are willing to lay aside for the label “developing”.

In every age children will try to bend the rules either intentionally or inadvertently. What is fashionable will always appeal us. In every era the school uniform will fall victim to the popular or current fashion – mini, maxi, tight, straight, flare, low-waist, baggy, rolled sleeves, buffed shirt, skinny pants, bell bottoms, close bottoms and those are just the ones I know about.

The reality is that school is a place of learning, it is not a cat-walk. Teachers have a hard enough job already without the added stress of a uniform that singles out or elevates some as privileged and others as underprivileged.

Many parents suffer from the ostrich syndrome.

I am not sure why we think that children just go to school and move from class to class trying to gather as much knowledge as they can. When the cats are away the mice still play.

But we want our children fashionable for school. All we are doing is teaching them how to disrespect law and order. Farley is interested in training of children because he knows full well it is not just about the length of a uniform, it is about respect and understanding.

Every day I see children dressing on the road, just yesterday I saw a child from The St. Michael School alight from an SUV along Marine Gap with his shirt tail flying – an adult was driving the vehicle.

Instead, publicly we debate whether Principal Farley did the right thing. My concern is what more could he have done?

After literally begging children to wear the correct uniform he took the necessary measures. When we are disrespectful to the laws of our work places we are warned and fired. When we are disrespectful to the laws of the land we are warned and imprisoned. Farley does not have those options.

Because the other principals have not spoken out about the length of uniforms of the students at the institutions they manage does not mean that the Gradon Sealy Principal is wrong.

We sweep certain issues under the carpet and get offended when they are talked about, but the reality is that a certain calibre of student is sent to the Gradon Sealy Secondary School. A calibre of student that does not necessarily fit our society’s ideal of six CXCs, associate degree, UWI graduate and an office job.

What we are failing to see is that a growing number of people have less and less respect for uniforms and what they represent. Police, paramedics, firefighters, soldiers, customs and immigration officers all are disrespected because we no longer care anything about uniforms. Lest we forget, we go the fetes in them.

The last week of debate about right and wrong has done nothing more than given another generation licence to disrespect authority.

We are called to train up our children in the way they must go, not to allow them to do whatever they want because it really doesn’t matter.

We need to stop failing our children and then trying to rationalise it.

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