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Skirts for the boys? – Gender Neutral School Uniforms

St. Brigid’s National School in Greystones has decided that from September “gender neutral school uniforms” will be introduced, which means that boys will be allowed to wear skirts and girls are allowed to wear trousers.

The change was “entirely student-led” the school says and after a trigger from the students, the school checked with the parents and then decided to go ahead with the change.

On Facebook (and probably in society) this approach is praised by some and ridiculed by others.

In my opinion, it is loooong overdue to allow girls to ditch the nonsensical skirts in cold Ireland. In fact, I think everyone should be allowed to wear whatever they want, but that might still be a step to far.

Growing up in Germany where school uniforms don’t exist, I still find it odd that schools in Ireland still have school uniforms in 2019. I had many discussions with friends about this topic and understand that the opinion is that a school uniforms reduces the pressure and competition for students to wear “cool” clothes, but uniforms are part of adult life and I think we should give our kids the chance to live their individuality as long as they are in school.

The new approach in the National School in Greystones is at least a little step in the right direction. People panic about boys suddenly wearing skirts and – you know what – this is stupid argument! I would bet money on the fact that it is extremely unlikely that any of the boys will suddenly wear skirts, but why did it take until 2019 to let the girls wear trousers if they wish to? It is time to change!

However, there is still a problem in my eyes: Why do schools force kids to wear ties? Pupils in St. Brigid’s National School have to wear green ties, no matter if they are boys or girls. Can we PLEASE simplify the uniforms and make them child compatible.

www.rte.ie/news/ireland/2019/0620/1056436-st-brigids-national-school-greystones/

www.independent.ie/irish-news/education/weve-had-a-few-negative-calls-wicklow-school-on-decision-to-introduce-genderneutral-uniform-policy-38238725.html

Gaeltacht not viable!? Is that really a surprise?

As a foreigner, I don’t speak Irish and have never learned it in school. I did make an attempt many years ago to learn it and bought a book and a few cassette tapes (it is THAT long ago!), but I don’t think I made it beyond the first lesson.

Why did I want to learn it? Well, if you move to a country where there is a different language than your own, you at least make an attempt and in addition there is this romanticised idea that it will come in handy somewhere.

But then you realise that ONLY English is needed in Ireland and that apart from some politically inspired publications, there is not even a proper newspaper available in Irish, which is a clear indication to me that the language has been given up.

Is it a terrible thing to give up language that is not useful anymore? Not at all! Otherwise we would all talk in Shakespearian English. Languages change and move, disappear and appear and even if there is history of a language, it does not mean that it HAS to be kept alive. On the other hand, there is NOTHING wrong with keeping it alive if there is sufficient interest and if people want to use it.

The “Oireachtas Standing Joint Committee on the Irish Language, the Gaeltacht and the Islands” was now told last Wednesday by Dr Brian Ó Curnáin from the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies that the number of Irish speakers is decreasing, that young people’s competence in the language even in the Gaeltacht is declining and that the Gaeltacht in its current state is not viable.

This has been reported by RTE.ie here.

It can’t really come as a surprise! Money is spent on Gaeltacht and on Irish language initiatives and the forced language teaching in Irish schools is still in place. But all this seems (to a non-involved observer) more like state-prescribed or forced programmes and not at all like genuine enthusiasm for the Irish language.

It seems that the language enthusiasm in Wales (for Welsh) is much bigger than in Ireland (for Gaelic). And considering that Welsh only became official language of Wales in 2011, that is some achievement. I am not sure what exactly was done in Wales to get there, but the system used in Ireland is clearly failing, so now the strategy needs to be changed OR maybe it should be considered to let Irish die?

Sugar Drink Tax? Another nonsensical idea of our government!

Taxes are raised in Ireland (and most other countries) not to regulate something or to improve something directly related to the taxed item, but for the state to make money. But now our government wants to introduce a tax on Sugar-containing drinks to fight obesity.

Well, first of all, I can’t imagine that it will have the slightest impact on obesity. If you buy a bottle of coke for EUR 2 today, then the 20% or 40c increase won’t stop tooo many people from buying that bottle. And if you buy a non-branded 2l bottle of sugar-containing soft drink for maybe 55 or 75 cent then the new price would be 66 cent or 90 cent respectively. Does anybody really think an increase of 11 or 15 cent will change the buying behaviour significantly. Nonsense! Obesity will not be affected in the slightest by these increases.

The only area where it could have an impact is in a pub or restaurant where you already pay a very high EUR 3 or more for a small bottle of soft drink. If the 20% increase would apply there than that is a 60 cent surcharge despite the fact that the tiny 0.2 l bottle has much less of an obesity effect than the 11 cent more expensive 2 litre bottle. Odd!

Another interesting aspect is a comparison to other taxes: If Sugar Drink tax is raised to fight obesity, then Motor tax and fuel tax should be used to improve the roads or even better to improve public transport, but it isn’t directly tied to either. It also should maybe help to reduce accidents, especially fatal ones. But that is not the case. Alcohol tax (duties) should be used to reduce alcoholism, but that is not the case. Instead it is just pocketed by the state.

Actually if a Sugar Drink Tax will be introduced to fight obesity, a NEW (and additional) Alcohol Drink Tax should be also introduced to fight alcohol related illnesses. Because 88 deaths per month in Ireland are DIRECTLY attributable to alcohol and over 14,000 people were admitted to the liver unit in St Vincent’s Hospital for the treatment of alcohol dependence in 2011 and every day, 1,500 beds in our hospitals are occupied by people with alcohol-related problems. In 2012 the whopping amount of EUR 1.5 billion was needed for alcohol related hospital discharges. (Statistics are from alcoholireland.ie/facts/alcohol-related-harm-facts-and-statistics/)

Why am I so much against a Sugar Drink Tax? Because most of us are well able to either limit our sugar intake or make up for it through exercise. But the government doesn’t suggest that people who are not obese do not pay the tax, instead they plan to raise the tax indiscriminately. Even if you are stick thin, you will have to pay the 20% more. That just doesn’t make sense.

School Uniforms – What a bad invention!! ….or maybe not?

In my opinion, school uniforms are TOTALLY wrong. They are mostly ugly, impractical, outdated, discriminating, freedom-robbing, outrageously expensive, a tool for intimidation and oppression and totally unnecessary.

Since school has restarted nearly two weeks ago, you see them everywhere again and it is just unbelievable how ugly most of them are. The colours, the cut, the “worn-outness” are turning them in the ugliest possible clothing for kids. It turns them to sheep in a herd instead of giving them the opportunity to become young individuals. The uniform is used to oppress them and to punish them if they don’t have the right one and it is also used for one-upmanship where some school insist on crests on their tops because they feel they are better than others. And I just can’t believe that in the 21st century, girls in Ireland are still FORCED to wear skirts. How outdated is that?

This rant all started when I saw a “my child has started school again” picture on Facebook that was posted by a friend recently, her daughter was shown in her new school uniform and it must have been the worst I ever saw. The poor little girl even had to wear a totally unnecessary tie that was to 80% covered by the ugliest “dress”-thing you could imagine. It really makes you wonder how twisted the people must be that decide how a school uniform has to look like and what idiocy made them to add a tie even for girls.

Hey, nobody wants to wear ties, not even the grown ups and they do it less and less, so why do we have to force our six year olds to wear them? And really, would you wear an excrement coloured skirt? Well, if you wouldn’t why do we make our kids to to it?

Where I grew up, uniforms didn’t exist. So we had an opportunity to be different, there were some goths in my school and some really well dressed kids and anything in between. We all had a uniform, but it was our own uniform. Not one prescribed by the school management or the principal and we used this uniform to express our individuality.

I would love a country full of self-reliant, independently thinking, individuals, not full of sheep that need a leader to follow him/her, that have ever learned to oblige all the time, to surrender their individuality and to be dismissive,

Does the school-uniform-induced brain washing support more the first or second set of characteristics?

But now comes the kicker: Maybe times have changed so dramatically, that individualism isn’t even possible anymore. Because the (very valid!!) argument of supporters of school uniforms is that the uniform takes the pressure off kids’ back to compete with each other on clothing. Maybe kids NEED uniforms, which is why they all would want to wear the same clothes from certain clothes labels. Maybe today’s generation just can’t handle individuality anymore?

But then, “No School Uniform” still works in other countries! So is this lack of individuality maybe an Irish problem?

I can’t answer that question and still find the need of school uniforms odd! ….but I can also see that they can make sense in certain contexts.

 

School is back, so the learning continues!? – Don’t be fooled!!

Now that the kids will soon be back in school, the parents breath a sigh of relief. Not only because now school is doing the child minding again for a large part of the day, but also because now their sons and daughters will get smarter again and learn lots of great stuff. But do they really?

If parents have the time and the energy, I would say that kids can learn a LOT more during the holidays than during the school year. Not more maths or chemistry, but more about life and about other cultures and maybe some hobbies.

In the Feel Good Slot of the Dublin Event Guide on 26 August, I quoted Mitch Joel, who said “I’m not going to let school get in the way of my child’s education.” and he refers to a big big problem. The problem is that the subject in school are very very limited.

There is no classes about Emotional Intelligence, a HUGELY important area if your kids will ever be in management or in a customer facing role or have ANYTHING to do with people that might feel stressed (and which job does not have that?). There are no classes about financial or business affairs. How to save, how to invest, how to start a business, how to market a product or a service or even just how to market yourself. And there are no classes about entrepreneurship, or how to deal with bad experiences or failures (your own or others) or how to stay innovative. OR and EVEN simpler: How to remain curious throughout life.

And the things that school teaches you are taught in a way that never occurs again! You don’t have to sit in a corner or at a table and come up with all great ideas yourself because you learned them by hear in weeks of hard work? No, in life you need to work with other people, you need to get/demand/invite ideas and suggestions and contributions from others and sometimes deal with harsh critique.

Maths and languages and chemistry and biology are definitely needed and probably with the exception of Irish all the current subjects make sense, but then the parent should try to find other teachers/mentors for their children to give them a chance to discover all or at least some of the other non-school-taught subjects.

So, Mitch Joel’s opinion “I’m not going to let school get in the way of my child’s education.” makes sense!

 
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