Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: That's Inappropriate!

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  • Sacha,

    I am still puzzled how the kneeling fits into it. What millenium is this school living in?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16996 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    Instead of the sort of uniform that can only be tested by getting teenage girls to kneel in front of you, how about changing the uniform requirement for girls to trousers?

    Wow - that was quick!

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3012 posts Report Reply

  • linger,

    What you shouldn’t do is have male friends, and be the sort of person who feels more comfortable around men than women

    Which, if used as definition, merely proves that many men are sluts?
    Trivial point: yes, according to stereotype, and …so what?
    Serious point: “slut” is a gender-biassed term, and any normative use should be dismissed on grounds of sexism. Official normative use, such as by teachers, therefore goes against workplace regulations. (See blog title.)

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 931 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart,

    What you shouldn’t do is have male friends, and be the sort of person who feels more comfortable around men than women. Being comfortable around boys, socialising with them, making them laugh, having the same interests – that’s what will make you a slut.

    In other words, it's because talking to and spending time with men actually means you're making yourself sexually available, because it's not possible that you could just have similar interests. Eugh.

    The last time the three of us got together, we ended up discussing some of the things my teachers had said to me, and whether or not they were Appropriate.

    I had one teacher who lent me most of Diana Gabaldon's books. When I was fourteen. I don't think it was inappropriate, because I would have got the books out of the public library if she hadn't, but it occured later that everyone else might have not had quite the same view.

    Amherst, MA • Since Nov 2006 • 2093 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Ms King’s language was injudicious, but it is worth noting she did not call Amethyst a slut. She told her she looked like one. There is a difference.

    If she is guilty of anything, it is probably of caring. Her words sound like those of a teacher stretched to the end of her tether trying to get through to a pupil who does not want to listen.

    That's not only a concern troll, but should be causing heart murmurs at Fairfax HQ. I don't think the Employment Court would be willing to split that particular hair if a senior manager told a female cadet she wasn't actually the kind of ho who could suck a bowling ball through a straw, she just looked like one. Meeting the rolling maul of deadlines required to put a newspaper to bed six days a week, fifty-two week a year, is damn stressful too. But you expect you senior management to be professional adults. Don't you?

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12073 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher,

    There seems to be a weird assumption that the only way to deal with a girl who violates the school dress code is to call her a slut.

    There are, actually, other ways of dealing with such issues that don't involve adults making dramatic sexual comments about teenage girls.

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1878 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Robyn Gallagher,

    There are, actually, other ways of dealing with such issues that don’t involve adults making dramatic sexual comments about teenage girls.

    As I said in my PAR piece this week (on another bullying teacher), the Education Ministry’s own Is My Child A Bully? tip sheet has some useful hints:

    Your child may be having social or emotional problems they find hard to handle. Some children may feel pressured to take part in bullying to be accepted or so they don’t get bullied themselves.

    {…} * Talk to your child about better ways to handle situations where they may act aggressively. For example, ask for help if they get frustrated, walking away to cool down, respect others and being tolerant of people who are different.

    Praise appropriate behaviour

    When you see your teen or child getting on well with others, or keeping calm when they don’t like something, let them know how well they are doing. You might have to look really closely at first ­but recognising and praising good behaviour is important.

    Talk to the school

    Talk to your child’s teacher about the problem and ask them for advice. When you and the school work together, you are much more likely to be able to resolve the problem.

    If you know about bullying, tell the school, even if your child is not involved. This shows your child that you and others are serious about stopping bullying.

    Schools are expected to treat bullying as the serious matter it is. The National Administration Guidelines (NAGs) state that schools must “provide a safe physical and emotional environment for students”. The New Zealand Curriculum and Wellbeing and Belonging (in Te Whariki) both include managing self and relating to others as key competencies.

    (Emphasis added. Italics not in original. CR)

    It seems to me that dealing with truculent, obtuse students is 90% of a dean’s job; if Ms. King can’t handle it without the kind of vulgar language that would land a student or parent in very deep shit if s/he directed it at a teacher, then you’ve got to wonder where the professional support is.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12073 posts Report Reply

  • Pete,

    I think that the kneeling thing had something to do with judging skirt length – if kneeling down the skirt should touch the ground? It’s been so long since I wore a skirt..

    It should be pointed out that the girl in question is called Amethyst and I feel that this, at least, is appropriate

    Since Apr 2008 • 91 posts Report Reply

  • John Russell,

    This persons job involves having short-skirted schoolgirls kneel before them? Presumably on command? Their job. Their actual job?

    Huh.

    Auckland • Since Aug 2008 • 17 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark,

    Appalling. The whole bloody thing is appalling. To make such comments to a child is completely inappropriate, and from a teacher, ridiculously unprofessional. And then making her skirt length an issue when there are obviously other stuff the school, and parents, need to be looking at in the first place. Like, if she's missing class, why so? And if she is getting in fights, why would that be? And to suggest that the teacher in question was simply equipping her for life? What a very laughable excuse for poor teaching strategies. Breaking the uniform code is not a reason to make comment on a child's appearance.
    If the young woman is, as the DomPost editorial suggests, heading in the wrong direction, then telling her she looks like a slut isn't helping her. It hinders her perception of self. And as educators, we should be looking at how we can broaden a child's horizons, not limit them.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3123 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Jackie Clark,

    Breaking the uniform code is not a reason to make comment on a child’s appearance.

    Indeed – I don’t think anyone is suggesting a school doesn’t have the right to set and enforce uniform standards. (You might think said standard is as ri-donk-u-lously dated as changing into formal dress for dinner at eight sharp, but that’s another argument.)

    But, as I’ve said more than once elsewhere, Ms. King is supposed to be the adult in this scenario. (I’d also note that teacher unions have been ringing alarm bells about verbal abuse and intimidation of their members by parents and students for years; and three years ago the Government required all schools to have anti-bullying strategies in place to be monitored by the ERO.)

    I have enormous respect for people like you, Jackie – not least because I couldn’t do it for a more than a week without turning into the love child of Mrs Sweary and Mr. Stabby. Alleged adults shit me off more than enough, thanks. I make no apologies for expecting a hell of a lot from teachers: What they do matters, and most of them step up admirably.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12073 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Just when I thought that the New Zealand media couldn't surprise me anymore, here's an editorial actually using the phrase "if she is guilty of anything, it is probably of caring". Unwitting self-parody at its best.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7412 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Con-Troll freak outs...
    ...at last a place in society for T.A.
    No, not Transactional Analysis,
    but Trolls Anonymous!

    Having followed, and read, the link to Wikipedia's Troll page, I have had to
    confront a sobering truth...

    ...My name is Ian, and I am,
    by definition, a Troll!

    Guilty of manipulating words,
    posting off-topic and attempting to
    elicit or provoke emotional responses
    all while indulging my frivolous propensities...

    ... stop me before I troll again!

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 5169 posts Report Reply

  • B Jones,

    Thank you for saying this, Emma. I've struggled to find appropriate things to say about my alma mater, and an appropriate place to say them, but you've nailed it. Suffice to say things have actually improved since my time there. Back in the 90s there was nowhere to complain.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 819 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    Tangential relevance: why is Brian Edwards so bad at arguing on the internet? The 'ask my feminist daughter and granddaughter, although I won't actually be asking them myself!' thing? I couldn't even rustle up enough energy to tell him how idiotic that sounded.

    There's an awful lot of 'kids these days are cee-razy, amirite, so you gotta get through to them any way you can!' stuff floating about around this issue, and it makes me tired. 1. They aren't any more crazy than they used to be. 2. As sane people have said, teachers should address behaviour without abusing children with loaded insults. Because teachers are the ADULTS in the situation. Apparently.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3665 posts Report Reply

  • Xeno, in reply to linger,

    Which, if used as definition, merely proves that many men are sluts?

    Rumbled.

    Since Oct 2008 • 25 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Danielle,

    The appeal to dubious authority is a logical fallacy that shouldn’t pass muster in any decently run high school debate team.

    I’ve also got to note the irony that I’ve heard Judy Callingham – Edwards’ partner in life and business – talk with considerable eloquence, and some anger, about how hard her generation of media women had to fight against casual and pervasive newsroom sexism. You know, things like the concept that objecting to a running commentary on your clothes and make-up and tits doesn’t make you a “humourless man-hating feminist” (and probably a dyke to boot).

    I hope I’d be told to fuck off if I walked into a professional meeting at Callingham & Edwards, then suggested I’d be more interested in receiving media training from someone who looked a tad less “slutty”. OTOH, Ms. Callingham might swoon at the prospect of enormous amounts of costly media training required to make such a troglodyte fit to go out in public. :)

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12073 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    We don't really know the full context, only what has been reported, so we should be suspicious. Personally, I think this whole thing show up how stupid uniforms are and how they get in the way of good teacher student relationships. These parents seem unusual in that they seem entirely happy with their 14 year old's attitudes and behaviour (I 've yet to find any other parents who are). NZ research also shows that boys tend to push boundaries in behaviour and girls do it through uniform.

    But the slut comment is something else, whatever the context. My good friend at school was already unhappy as a 14 year old and slut comments directed to her (from students not staff) pushed her into severe depression. Words wound.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 2169 posts Report Reply

  • Isabel Hitchings, in reply to Jackie Clark,

    If the young woman is, as the DomPost editorial suggests, heading in the wrong direction, then telling her she looks like a slut isn't helping her. It hinders her perception of self. And as educators, we should be looking at how we can broaden a child's horizons, not limit them.

    Beautifully put (as usual) Jackie. As I was reading I was thinking of my adolescent self and how many time I took the "If you think that's what I am, that's what I'll be" route.

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2007 • 706 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Wow - that was quick!

    Most schools have trousers as an alternative uniform for girls. I'm talking about getting rid of the skirt completely and forcing the all girls to wear trousers all the time. Seeing as the skirts are the problem.

    Tangential relevance: why is Brian Edwards so bad at arguing on the internet?

    This and his hideous column on Nayan Woods' death would seem to indicate that he's reached a level of curmudgeonliness where he genuinely hates young people.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4378 posts Report Reply

  • Andre Alessi,

    Brian Edwards' post on the matter genuinely dumbfounded me. Gobs were smacked.

    I didn't even realise we were still living in the 50's. I know I did a few hallucinogenics in my early twenties, but really, to get the date wrong by sixty years? I must remember to thank my dealer the next time he's out of jail.

    Devonport, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 864 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    These parents seem unusual in that they seem entirely happy with their 14 year old's attitudes and behaviour

    In the initial article on this, Amethyst's mother openly acknowledged that there were problems with her behaviour. On this issue, however, her parents have been unconditionally supportive of her. Which might just increase their chances of getting through to her on an issue which is actually important. Because yes, uniform? Really really isn't.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4378 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Emma Hart,

    This and his hideous column on Nayan Woods' death would seem to indicate that he's reached a level of curmudgeonliness where he genuinely hates young people.

    The fact-free man-splaining of Emma and Duncan Woods, who behaved with extraordinary grace and dignity in the face of a tragedy I can't get my head around, was beyond "inappropriate". While I loved Emma's lethal take-down of Michael Laws, she shouldn't have had to do the fact-check on the SST's behalf.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12073 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    the girl in question is called Amethyst

    I am going to rename my son Topaz Zirconia.

    (Although, why is 'Amethyst' awful and 'Ruby' acceptable?)

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3665 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Tangential relevance: why is Brian Edwards so bad at arguing on the internet?

    I likewise was appalled by that post. And the followup defences of it.

    I'm watching series 1 of Mad Men at the moment - it would have fitted in well to the way men in that show treat women.

    Someone there linked to this post by the young woman in question. Clearly she's got a bit more to her than the length of her skirt.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6227 posts Report Reply

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