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A challenge for schools

Preamble

Critical thinking is far more important for a good education than is the learning of hundreds of facts which will help students to pass exams at the end of their schooling but the vast majority of which will never be used again. In Western societies our curricula tend to push more and more information into the school years at the expense of critical thinking, effective use of our language, and exercises which will help us survive into later life. If a proverb about giving fish or teaching fishing comes to mind it's quite intentional. We don't have to look far to see examples of where some critical thinking could change the world around us. How many have looked at Western Australia's "Fuelwatch" website and complained about significant price rises, but not noticed the glaring evidence of resale price maintenance? How many of us ditched signatures on credit cards because the banks were telling us that a farcical 4-digit PIN was more secure, or there was little risk of allowing thieves to waft a stolen card a few times and rack up multiple $100 entries? These, and many other issues, need the willingness of others to deal with them effectively. By way of contrast, here's an issue where we can do our own critical thinking, including decision making and research, both of which bring educational benefits, so please take the challenge seriously, and ask questions which arise from the answers to other questions. See how far you can go towards getting to the root of the issue, and then ask yourself what's stopping you doing something positive about it.

Background summary

For a number of centuries up to, and including, the first half of the 20th, society deemed that men should wear trousers and women should wear dresses. During WWII it was necessary to have women working in factories, and, for safety reasons, they wore trousers. In the 1950s and 60s women who wore trousers for everyday tasks were frowned on and told not to wear men's clothing. Deuteronomy 22:5 was often quoted, out of context of course. It's now common to see women in trousers/slacks. Women pushed strongly for equality of the genders, but as the push wasn't reciprocated it really turned out to be a push for women to have the rights reserved for men without men having the rights reserved for women.

In recent times temperatures have been rising in various parts of the world, and boys in the UK and Europe, required to wear trousers to school even on a hot day, and not being allowed to wear shorts, have turned to wearing school skirts to make a point. If there were genuine equality across the genders that wouldn't have been a noteworthy issue, but it continues to be so.

With the rise of LGBTI communities, and some children being considered to have gender dysphoria, Education Departments in Australia and the UK - and probably more - have moved towards gender neutrality in school uniform descriptions. That is one step towards gender equality for the male half of the population, but the language still screams "boys don't wear skirts." That's because the thinking behind the move is to allow boys who feel more closely aligned with femininity to express themselves openly as girls. I can't help wondering how many boys would feel very much at home with their assigned gender if they had actual gender equality in decisions such as clothing and activities. Persistently being told "you're a boy/man, so stop wearing girls'/womens' clothing" will have a drag on all but the strongest, and even they will be limited.

The real reasons behind opposition to men and boys wearing skirts are rarely canvassed. Please read www.men-in-skirts.org/skirtsinAus.html for some eye-opening, and mind-provoking, thoughts on this issue.


The challenge