Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Students' Haircut

Few weeks ago a fellow teacher had posted the following picture on Facebook and it suddenly became an issue. He managed to takedown the picture but by then it has become a topic of debate on social media. The matter reached Education Ministry, who later notified on Facebook that they were investigating the case.

Many of the people engaged in the debate on social media then had not seen the picture including myself, yet there were endless comments against the teacher. Many shared their personal stories and of their children who had to suffer similar experiences.

Today, someone uploaded the picture on Facebook with an open letter to the teacher and all of a sudden it went viral. To many it's a breaking news because they didn't know when the issue actually surfaced. The picture is shared on various groups and pages on Facebook and so far it has gathered hundreds of comments, mostly condemning the teacher.
The Picture on the Facebook. 
Just by looking at one picture so many people have dictated the whole biography of the teacher and if there is anyone victimized in this case it's the teacher who in his entire career was never so much appreciated like he is insulted and condemned for one act, which may not be his doing.

The issue on haircut in school has a long controversial history; if your look from outside the school you would strongly argue on the connection between education and hair, but from inside the school we know hair talks about the child, and changing hairstyle is a sign of changing character. However, short hair is not necessarily proper hair, which is therefore a topic of a timeless debate.

But in this issue, the children in the picture are very small and at this age in rural schools they hardly care about their hairstyle- if you have been to such a school you will understand. And often school staff and teachers become barbers and help give kids brush cutting. They aren't wearing school uniform, which suggest it's on a weekend. On weekends rural school usually help clean their children; give them haircut, and cut their nails. Perhaps this picture was taken on one such day before their actual hair cutting session. The barbers must have had fun with these children on Saturday afternoon but after that their hair would be cut to the minimum length appropriate for children to care for. The question of demoralization, trauma, and physiological implication seem far fetched in this case.

Posting the picture on Facebook was something many people felt inappropriate. It's very true in the western context. It's a serious offence there because people mind being publicised without their consent.  But here in Bhutan do we really mind? There are thousands of tourist snapping ugly shots of our people and are published in blogs and magazines but no one seem to mind. How suddenly so many people became so conscious about privacy? Do these children mind being on Facebook? Do they even know there is something called Facebook? If there is anything they are concerned about, it may be a new pair of shoes, a set of notebooks, decent food, and a good life ahead. And if you wish to be a partner in giving them a good life, join the teacher you have condemned and know the job he's doing.

I am not defending a fellow teacher, I have taught in a rural school and lived with such children and I know that sort of fun we have with our children. The picture in the limelight seems very harmless. But my perspective could be driven of my ignorance because I haven't studied or lived outside Bhutan. You could choose to differ but please don't condemn the teacher so badly just by looking at a picture, at least wait to know the story behind the picture.

**The identity of the boys are hidden not because I thought it's important but because some good friends advised me to and I respect their views.

22 comments:

  1. Seriously? C'mon! The image is disturbing. I am totally against it.
    Even if it was for fun, this is totally demeaning. Just because they are kids does not mean they have the right to such act. Definitely, the government needs to look into the matter.

    Concerned.

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  2. I thought you were going to share your view. What do you think? Is it ok for a teacher to do this?

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  4. I would say that there won't be any such issue if we the STD were allowed to keep hair as there are no problem in that I think.....
    But why can't that happen?

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  6. Passu,

    Firstly I condemned the act of teacher and then posting on FB. I did suggested him to remove the picture immediately from the FB and I believe he did after strong reactions from the people.

    Secondly, I still believe that those children deserve the respect and uploading the pictures again and again is also an act of violation of dignity and privacy of those innocent children.

    So, I do request you to remove the pictures from your Blog or atleast maintain the privacy either through covering the identity.

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  7. I don't think it's also right for you to post the picture on the blog without asking for due permission from the subject or atleast cover their identity like Lekey Wangdi mentioned.

    These boys deserve respect.And as for the hair, this is a common sight in rural schools in Bhutan, Childs' rights are violated. I hope the concerned Ministry look into it.

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  8. i don't see anything new, because once upon a time I have myself gone through the same process... On many occasions I have had my hair cut like the one in the pic....and i think our teachers does it for many reasons..... ( which i will explain on my blog later) But now things have changed,, Teachers get sued for merely disciplining kids.... I think teacher who did do not deserve to be condemned, right away. he will have his own reasons to justify.....as for education ministry investigating on the case, I think they have more home work serious than this to be done........

    Please respect teachers!!!!! They know best about loving and caring their students!!!!!!

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  9. Passu,

    Thanks for taking the suggestion positively.

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  10. This is a common strategy that schools use when the students fails to cut their hair short even after repeated reminders.

    I am against posting the pictures of the boys on the social website like the facebook but I would not condemn the teacher or agree with the Ministry of Education looking into the case and serve the teacher with any punishment. because of the the following reasons:
    1. I dont know the teacher, but i am sure he must be someone who got posted in a rural area right after his training; so my guess would be he is as innocent as the five boys who would give no damn about their pictures being posted. Thus, MoE should create certain awareness among the teachers on certain things that they cant do to the students. This is particularly required with more and more people getting conscious about human right issues, Child rights, Gender, Fundamental rights etc. etc. As such, this kind of things done in good spirit unnecessarily gets blown out of proportion because people on the social sites jump on given an opportunity. Some always look out for what to throw out for discussion or what status to put;
    2. Everyone seems to agree and share certain experiences. Thats right, it happens in every school and i guess MoE had no problem with it, am sure they would not have any problem with the present case if not for some people who created all the fuss citing a lot of reasons putting the poor teacher on spotlight for something that he has done with a good intend. and
    3, When i was in Punakha Higher Secondary school, teachers open and read all the letters that students received. This was never a problem, may be its because there was no facebook or twitter those days (2001). Atleast the present case is not as bad as that. So, does the teacher deserve to be even questioned?
    Therefore, I would like to presume the teacher to be innocent and would assume that MoE would may be at the most, inform that teacher that what he had done (posting the pictures on the facebook) is not right, instead of that they are investigating the case. Investigating is too strong a word for that matter. Whats there to investigate. Everyone knows who the teacher is; all of us know what he has done and the teacher did not do that in secrecy. Come on people, lets be rationale and not point fingers to a teacher for such an petty issue.

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  11. It should not be a serious matter. Despite the myriad plea made by the teacher, students mite not have heeded the words which resulted in frustration. But I believe no teacher intends on defaming their students. It is good to be cruel sometimes to discipline students.

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  12. Looked forward to reading your view. Read it. Thank you. Have nothing to say. You already know my view.

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  13. At least give a decent haircut through it can be brush cutting. The ones in the picture looks like paddy harvested fields...not very decent. Children, as they grow up learn to express by way of hairstyle, fashionable clothes and body language. From that perspective, hairstyle given in the picture is quite demeaning. If they were shown with nice brush cutting, they would have really looked cute and adorable.

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  14. I completely agree with you Passu sir. I know the teacher who posed the picture and he is a really funny guy. so i too can say that the intention behind his post of the picture may not be of demoralizing the children or something else...but it must have be just part of fun we do have in our everyday life. Hair cutting isn't a big issues as school do have such vocational clubs where the students who needs haircut, its been done by those barber club. I guess just looking at the picture and reacting on it one side is just not an end and protest again the that particular teacher and others teacher too who are drag in too. SO i guess our people need to have wider part of studying and looking at things. Sir you did have thought carefully and written the article in best way la.

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  15. Nice perspective and a valid point in fact. However what i have read it in facebook was that it was as a Punishment for some miscreant.
    Forgive me if i am wronng. Yes I do respect my fellow teachers, yet i am totally against such acts!...
    Thanks..

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  16. so sad to see those picture and the way students are treated

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  17. so sad to see those picture and the way students are treated

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  19. I honestly DON'T think this is what the teacher deserves. As a student, my trust for teachers till now is absolute. I find it more of playfulness from the teachers side as we always have and what to say, once my teacher command me even to stand upside down on my head and I followed which of course was little sickening but, today I could remember only him as far my childhood teachers are concerned. For me, This teacher who just had some fun with his boys is not something to be condemned but to give a good laugh because these boys would also remember their humorous teacher someday.

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  20. Thanks for the comments. We cannot deny that it's something wrong, but I disagree to agree with certain hifi concepts some are demanding when we haven't yet taken care of some basic human need, and worse the fact that the teacher is badly judged for one picture is disheartening.

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  21. But all the same,seriously I condemn such act imposed on such tiny little kids! We teachers should wear out hearts to school too!Not hang it on a peg at home, saved for our own kids only! (My opinion)

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  22. Agree Chador, if we are to love our job, if we are to live happily, if we are going to be come teacher we must take our hearts in our pockets to school.

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