Tag Archives: equality

Coat Ban

Did you know Canada Goose winter coats have been banned at a school in the U.K?  Moncler and Pyrenex coats have also been banned at Woodchurch High School in Wirral, England.  According to this article: “It is not because kids are stupid, lose things or steal off each other…Rather it is because of inequality.”

Canada Goose Jackets

Checking Prices

The Canada Goose website advertises youth parkas starting from $350 up to $750.  Moncler has coats for teen boys (12-14) that are upwards of $1000. Pyrenex jackets are the cheapest of the three ranging from $200-350 for children’s jackets.

What is the priority?

When I have looked for a winter jacket for myself or for my kid – I go with one priority, to find something that will provide warmth for our winters without breaking the bank.  Canada Goose, Moncler and Pyrenex may be wonderfully warm coats, but there are other, cheaper brands that are also sufficiently warm by my experience.  Thus, I struggle to understand why anyone would spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on a single item of clothing especially for a child who would outgrow that item even if they don’t wear it out, lose it or otherwise wreck it?

Does name brand matter?

Over the years there are many brands that have held the spot light and thus been in high demand: Nike, Polo, Levi, Gucci, Ralph Lauren, Prada, Tommy Hilfiger, Sketchers, Aeropostale, Abercrombie & Fitch and so on.  For some, sporting these names helps to establish the individual as someone who is ‘cool’.  The problem is that the popularity of a brand can influence the price tag making it harder for everyone to afford and thus reinforcing the difference between those who have and those who don’t.

“Poverty Shaming”

In a time when wealth provides a sense of status and entitlement and when people are famous essentially because they have money, those who are unable to ‘keep up with the Jones’ (or perhaps the Kardashians) are looked down upon and can thus become targets of bullying.  In essence, while status is associated with wearing the ‘right’ brands, stigma is associated with the absence of such brands.  The assumption is that if you don’t have those brands it is because your family is poor and can’t afford them.

“Wealth Shaming”

One Facebook post complained that banning expensive, name brand coats is the equivalent of ‘wealth shaming’ – making people feel bad because they have money and can buy (really) nice things.  All of this, however, depends upon seeing the brands you wear as a means to define who you are.  Is this really the ideal we should teach in a school?

What do you think?

How important is what a student wears?  Should schools ignore those ways in which students  define one another based on clothing?  Or should the classroom and playground stress character and other qualities allowing young people to define themselves beyond what they wear?  Is limiting the brands students can wear a way to achieve this ideal? We want to hear from you.

Thrive! A living manual for families uses the tools of social media and food and fellowship to facilitate conversation about the blessings and challenges of being family today.  Check out http://stpaulstrinity.org/?page_id=2100 for more information or visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ThriveFamiliesManual/

 

#DayOfTheGirl

An old, popular rhyme says: “Sugar and spice and all that’s nice; That’s what little girls are made of” while “Frogs and snails and puppy-dog tails; That’s what little boys are made of”.  A version of this rhyme is found in The Baby’s Opera by Walter Crane (circa 1877) highlighting how deeply embedded into culture is our social understanding of the difference between the genders.

What is normal?

A woman stands in a courtroom,  ready to take responsibility for a parking ticket after leaving a car parked outside of her house to care for her infant son on oxygen before picking up her other children at school.  It is a struggle for her to stand because three days prior she was shot in the leg, an innocent bystander trying to get home from work at night.  The bits and pieces of her story are relayed to the Judge who is impressed by the strength of this women.

At one point the Judge turns to Inspector Quinn and asks him how he feels about this woman.  Inspector Quinn responds: “Your Honour, she’s more of a man than I could ever be…”

“Sugar and spice and everything nice” doesn’t leave a lot of room for females to be strong.  It doesn’t leave space for females to be smart, athletic, or willing to play with frogs and snails or anything else that might get their hands dirty.  “Sugar and spice and everything nice” relegates women to the role of being nice which doesn’t always fit with taking charge, fighting back or working to change the system.  Efforts to live beyond “sugar and spice and everything nice”, require females to embrace a kind of manhood that stands in contradiction to the expectations of society.

#DefyNormal

As we celebrate #InternationalDayoftheGirl and #DayOfTheGirl females of all ages are sharing ways in which they have lived outside of the norm of “sugar and spice and everything nice”.  Women and girls are proving, time and time again, that we are strong, smart and capable.  As one Tweet proclaims: “Feminism isn’t about making women stronger, women are already strong.  It’s about changing the way the world perceives that strength.”

Work still to do

Despite the many girls and women who #DefyNormal, we still have a long way to go before females can be truly celebrated and honoured for living out their gifts regardless of whether these reflect the ideal of ‘sugar and spice and everything nice’.  Recent reports suggest:

And so we continue to need #InternationalDayoftheGirl and #DayOfTheGirl to remind us of the strides we have made, the role models which continue to #DefyNormal and the work that still needs to be done.

Embracing who we are

In the meantime, families can celebrate every member for being who they are regardless of whether or not they accurately reflect what boys and girls are made of.  When children know there is nothing wrong with girls who are made of frogs and snails and puppy-dog tails and boys who are made of sugar and spice and everything nice, then we open the door to accept that all children have gifts and are free to live these out in whatever ways makes sense to them.  It is then that children will know they no longer have to #DefyNormal simply to be.

Thrive! A living manual for families uses the tools of social media and food and fellowship to facilitate conversation about the blessings and challenges of being family today.  Check out http://stpaulstrinity.org/?page_id=2100 for more information or visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ThriveFamiliesManual/

Cellphones in the Classroom

With the election of Doug Ford and the Progressive Conservative party in Ontario last week, questions now arise as to how this group will live into the promises that were made.  Educators  are among those who are particularly anxious about the implications given that promises included the repealing of the updated sexual-health curriculum, scrapping of “discovery” math and “fixing” standardised testing.  He also promised to ban cellphones in all primary and secondary classrooms to “maximize learning time”.

Telephones vs. Cellphones

Do you remember those days when the privacy of a telephone conversation was limited to the length of the chord?  Some of us have even heard of that time when a phone call required an operator and/or involved a party line.  Today, cellphones are used for far more than telephone calls.  Cellphones take pictures, play video and music, provide connectivity to the Internet, access to social media, apps for a large variety of functions and more.  They can act as a credit card, a ticket to a movie, and a lifeline to family and friends.  For today’s young people, cellphones are a vital tool for life.

Cellphones in the classroom

Mention the promise to ban cellphones in the classroom in my house and the response is incredulity.  My partner is an elementary school teacher who emphatically states that cellphones are the great equalizer for those schools, students and classrooms who do not have ready access to other forms of technology.  My teenager admonishes the suggestion by emphasising how often cellphones are used in classrooms for vital research and/or for participation in questionnaires (through an app called ‘Kahoot’ which enables anonymous participation and thus facilitates conversation).

In fact, cellphones have become so integral to the learning process that school boards have chosen to simply limit access to programs and activities that might distract students including Facebook, Instagram, Netflix, and Snapchat.  Videos that are deemed inappropriate are also blocked.  Ultimately this creates space for students to maximize their resources for learning with a single hand-held device.  If these were to be banned in classrooms, what would be offered to replace these?

Yes they can be a distraction

It would be naïve to suggest that cellphones are never a distraction.  Of course, realistically, students found ways to be distracted in class long before cellphones.  We used pencils and paper to write notes to each other.  These were important tools for learning and still are today.  No one would suggest taking these away.

What do you think?

Do your children have cellphones?  How are these used?  To what extent are you aware of the possibilities cellphones create in regards to learning?  Would you support a ban on cellphones in all elementary and secondary classrooms?  Why or why not?

Thrive! A living manual for families uses the tools of social media and food and fellowship to facilitate conversation about the blessings and challenges of being family today.  Check out http://stpaulstrinity.org/?page_id=2100 for more information or visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ThriveFamiliesManual/

Gender Neutral Dress Codes

I noticed the headline in my newsfeed: “School bans boys from wearing shorts, tells them to wear skirts”.  Yes, you read that correctly, you can check out the link for yourself here.

What are dress codes?

Generally speaking, dress codes are the standards established by an individual school and/or school board to define expectations about what clothing is appropriate for those attending.  It is common for dress codes to include stipulations about text and images on shirts or sweaters and define what length or style of clothing might be too risqué for the classroom.  Recently, such stipulations have been criticised as being far stricter for females than males because of society’s tendency to define female dress as ‘distracting’ for males.  I discussed this in response to complaints at Essex District High School in this post.

Gender Neutral

One of the ways to move beyond such criticisms is to seek to make dress code policies gender neutral – in other words, to establish the exact same standards for males as for females.  The challenge with this, however, is that the fashion trends differ by gender.  Boys tend not to wear short shorts or have to worry about their shirts revealing their bra straps, while girls know how to pull up their pants.

Uniforms

These are less of an issue for boarding schools or Catholic high schools in Ontario where uniforms are the norm.  (Note: Having taught in a Catholic school, I do remember having to instruct many male students to pull up their pants and tell female students to roll down their skirts after having rolled them up at the waist to make the required skirts shorter).

There are a variety of advantages to uniforms particularly when these come from a single source and are thus the same for each person.  It then becomes possible to define what people are expected to wear every day with little variation.  For Chiltern Edge Secondary School in Oxfordshire, that means trousers or skirts with shirts, ties and blazers, an appropriate uniform for those expected to end up in high powered business positions.

What do you think?

Is this gender neutral gone too far?  Would you allow your son to wear a skirt in order to feel cooler in the hot summer months?  Is it OK for females to wear trousers in the cold winter months?  Are these the same thing?  Why or why not?  For more reflection on gender neutrality check this post on the latest heir to the royal throne.

Thrive! A living manual for families uses the tools of social media and food and fellowship to facilitate conversation about the blessings and challenges of being family today.  Check out http://stpaulstrinity.org/?page_id=2100 for more information or visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ThriveFamiliesManual/

Feminism in 2018

It’s a boy!

News from the UK today has announced that Prince William and Kate Middleton have welcomed a baby boy to the royal family.  This child is the third for the couple and will be greeted by big brother George and big sister Charlotte.  News outlets have confirmed that this child is fifth in line for the throne behind his grandfather, father and siblings.

Shifting rules.

In 2013, before Prince George was born, the Succession to the Crown Act of 2013 was passed which ensured that a female royal can maintain her place in line to the throne.  Prior to this, the new prince would have moved ahead of Princess Charlotte in succession simply be virtue of the fact he is male and she is female.

I wonder if anyone will argue that this is reverse discrimination.  This poor boy has lost the privilege that should have been rightfully his as has been the tradition for centuries.  On some level it doesn’t seem fair that he has been born to a time when the rules changed and required that his sister’s place be honoured in the same way that a male child should be honoured.

The struggle continues for many

Feminism is defined as the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes.  All things being equal, gender shouldn’t matter when determining who is fit for the throne.  The same could and repeatedly should be said about any job.  According to a 2018 Global News report, however, a mere 3% of CEOs in Canada are women and 26% of our MPs are female.  We still have a long way to go to ensure that women in Canada have equal opportunities to their male counterparts.

What can families do?

Consider what equality looks like in our homes.  Do we have different expectations for males than females?  How are chores allocated?  In what ways do parents model equality?  To what extent do we perpetuate gender stereotypes by our actions?  In what ways do our expectations and behaviours demonstrate every person has different gifts and should be encouraged to use those gifts in whatever ways reflects who they are regardless of gender?

Conversation is always important and creates a framework from which we can explore the nature of gender through the eyes of all in our families.  What would it take to begin that conversation?

Thrive! A living manual for families uses the tools of social media and food and fellowship to facilitate conversation about the blessings and challenges of being family today.  Check out http://stpaulstrinity.org/?page_id=2100 for more information or visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ThriveFamiliesManual/