|Illustration by Trịnh Lập|
A few days ago, I encountered an old classmate from high school.
I haven’t seen her since we graduated more than 20 years ago.
Despite the passing of time, she looked much the same - young with chestnut hair and platinum highlights.
These days, she works in the public relations industry.
With her chestnut hair and platinum highlights, she was considered a disobedient student at high school and was criticised by teachers because the school banned hair dye - we had to keep our original colour.
Seeing her success, I believe that people’s clothing style and hair colour at school does not decide whether they will become good or bad people later on and does not affect our lives or our career.
Recently, a short clip has been spread on social networks of a teacher at a high school in Vĩnh Phúc Province cutting a female student’s hair in front of other students because she dyed her hair with highlights, which is against the school’s regulations.
Later, after receiving opinions from the school’s management board, the teacher apologised. She and the student hugged each other in forgiveness, however, many people are still angry with the teacher’s action.
The mother of a junior secondary school student in Đống Đa District in Hà Nội, who wished to remain anonymous, said: "Standing on the teaching platform, in an education environment where every day at school should be a happy day, whatever the reason, the teacher's action is critical and unacceptable".
Phạm Thị Minh Anh, a clerical worker in HCM City’s District 1, said: "This is an outrageous action, a serious violation of teacher ethics. The teacher did not respect the students’ honour, and her behaviour was inappropriate.”
An important factor in education is listening and understanding so that teachers can find a subtle, flexible and effective way of teaching students.
“Even if students violate the school’s rules, teachers should not be rigid," she said. "They need to have a way to let students know they are not right and should change. Students can learn from experience, and teachers retain their prestige and show their love for students. This is completely in the hands of the teachers.”
However, many others agreed with the teacher’s work.
Đoàn Thanh Tuấn, a father in Hà Nội, said that if teachers did not have strict action, students would be disobedient and could have bad behaviour when they grew up.
“My daughter is a 10th grader, and I never let her dye her hair or varnish her nails when going to school," he said. "She can do it when she has a job and supports herself. When at school, students must follow the school’s rules.”
“If a student opposes the school’s regulations, how will they behave in the community?”
He argues that parents should also enforce rules at home to ensure their students become good adults in later life.
Nguyễn Thị Xuân An, the teacher at a junior secondary school in Đông Anh District in Hà Nội, said parents should believe in teachers and understand that all things teachers do start from their love for students.
“The school not only teaches knowledge but also teaches students to become good people,” she said.
Nguyễn Tùng Lâm, deputy chairman of the Việt Nam Psychology and Education Association and chairman of the Đinh Tiên Hoàng High School’s Education Council, said that when teachers want to keep rules, they must find suitable action and measures.
“Cutting a student's hair in front of the class is quite violent and should not be done in an educational environment,” he said.
Confirming that the school’s regulations aimed at educating students, not punishing or sullying them, Lâm said that from the case, all teachers should learn from experience.
“Students of high school age are in the process of psychological change," he said. "They have hobbies and need to show their personality. They want to express themselves and be recognised by others. This is a normal process of human psychological development and should be respected instead of criticised,”
“Teachers must control their emotions, have great patience to listen, sympathise and be tolerant with students.”
Such rules against hair dye are not unique to Việt Nam - a California-based Catholic school states on its website that hair cannot be of any extreme cut, style or colour.
Other Catholic schools across the States and worldwide also state that they require students and staff to have “natural,” “undyed” hair.
Most schools in India, Malaysia, and Indonesia do not allow students to dye their hair, according to the website https://kintegraresearch.com/.
In my opinion, it's not fair to judge children who dye their hair with light colours or dress improperly, and they shouldn't be treated as abnormal students.
I do not encourage teachers to cut students' hair in front of the class as a measure to keep discipline, but I think that suitable measures should be taken to help students better their personalities and form good attitudes to life. — VNS