A mother has lodged a police report after her 12-year-old son’s teacher cut his hair an hour before his PSLE oral exam on 16 Aug 2012. This news headline is a hot topic and many people have very different opinion. What are your views?
The mother, Madam Serene Ong, is outraged that the teacher did this just before a crucial exam, that it was done without her knowledge nor permission – and that it ruined the boy’s $60 haircut.
She claimed the teacher – Ms Belinda Cheng of Unity Primary School – also threatened to deduct marks from the boy’s exam if he refused to have his hair cut.
On Wednesday 22 Aug 2012, the school’s principal, Mrs Jasmail Singh Gill, agreed with Madam Ong that the teacher had no business cutting the boy’s hair.
But, she said, Primary 6 pupils had been warned before about sporting long hair, and Ms Belinda Cheng had the right intentions. “The teacher cut the boys’ hair as she wanted them to look neat,” said Mrs Gill.
Ms Belinda Cheng, who had also cut the hair of two other 12-year-old boys that day, had not commented on the matter so far. According to Madam Ong, the teacher apologised to her and the three pupils yesterday.
Madam Ong, 39, a sales manager, said she received a call from her son Ryan Ang at about 10am on the day of the exam. His oral exam was at 11am.
He was crying and told her that Ms Cheng, who is one of his form teachers, had cut his fringe and sideburns. He and the two other boys had been pulled up during a spot check for long hair.
“The teacher had no right to cut his hair,” said Madam Ong.
“She showed me no respect by not telling me that she was going to cut his hair beforehand,” she said. “Worse, she threatened to deduct his oral marks if he didn’t agree to let her cut his hair. It was an hour before his PSLE oral exam. What if it had affected his performance?”
She said she was so upset she made a police report and complained to the Ministry of Education that night.
She said Ryan did not dare to step out of the house for two days “because he thought he looked funny”. That’s how ‘funny’ he looks – see the picture below.
Ms Cheng, she added, had also wasted the $60 she had spent on Ryan’s hair just five days before the incident. He has been going to a hairstylist at Reds Hairdressing for several years. Madam Ong spent another $60 getting his hair restyled on Saturday.
She said the ministry told her to “forgive the teacher” and the police said she could seek legal advice. The ministry also told her on Thursday that marks would not be deducted for pupils’ appearance during the exam.
A ministry spokesman yesterday said schools may formulate their own rules based on their needs, within given guidelines for school discipline.
Several principals contacted said that students sporting unkempt hair is a common problem they face. But they felt Ms Cheng’s approach of just chopping the hair off was outdated.
“Doing this is like going back hundreds of years,” said Dr Foo Suan Fong, principal of Dunman High. His students are given a warning and a deadline to get their hair cut. If they do not do so, the school will contact their parents, whom it regards as “our education partners”.
Mrs Lee Hui Feng, principal of Nanyang Primary, held the same view. “We have to work closely with parents and reinforce the notion that their children’s personal image is very important.”
A sample of readers’ opinion show many different perspectives :
“Sign of the times…back then schools standby barbers during assembly and catch boys with long hair….cut already still have to pay the barber. Teacher should have known how pampered kids are now then to pull a stunt like this. ”
“I look at this boy’s picture and reads how his mum behaves, I suddenly have a premonition that 1 day this boy will get his hair cut in Changi Resort.” – hawker
“When I was reading this case, there are two sides of the coin. First, the mother of the boy is overreacting & definitely spoiling the boy, who will have no sense of discipline, grow to believe that money & whatever power and connection he will get his way. There is no humility.
Second, I am sure that the school would have issued circular or notes to the parents with the attire they require for attending school examinations, especially important ones like PSLE, Min. of Ed, would have issued their directive to the school . The boy either have not given that to the parents or the mother/father could not be bothered to read the circular or notes. They just cannot be bothered.
The teacher, should have told the boy to inform his mother before cutting his hair or inform the principal so that, she cover her ‘asses’ from being burnt. We have to be careful with people’s precious children these days, hairstyle cost $60.
You are right, when we are young the standard school hair cut was the ‘botak look’ or the 3 by 4 famously done by the Chinese barbers or the Hainanese barbers ( no offence to the Hainanese), I don’t want my hair to be cut by the Chinese ones or the Hainanese. I chose to have my hair cut by the Indian or Malay barbers, who knows you are a student, will cut your hair a compromise between being modern & still keeping the school hair cut standard.
Being botak was common in my time, especially those studying in the Chinese medium schools especially so the 3 by 4 hairstyle.
If We ever get our hair cut by the school, whether the teacher , discipline master , worse the school principal; we won’t dare go home, or we will get a trashing from our mother or father. Rarely, we have parents, during our time questioning the authority of the school. To get the school to call the parents to school, unless for school awards, one is really in deep shit!
Kids are spoil today & some parents ( not all) are making it very difficult for the school to educate & teach the children. In this case, the mother looks like she is not angry for ruining the hair cut of the boy ( after all the hair will grow back fast) but she HAD SPENT $60 AT REDS to cut the hair. The boy as one comment here, will be cutting his hair F.O.C. at Boy’s Home first, then Changi Resort or Maybe Buangkok Lodge . F.O.C.
The teacher is at fault, the parents is at fault, and that idiotic Mrs. Bayi Principal is at fault too, for not standing on the side of the teacher. The principla is encouraging indiscipline…If were I was that teacher, I RESIGN!” – halsey02
“Although I don’t agree with the forceful cut of hair by the teacher, but it seems that the mother has made a big fuss over nothing. During my school time, being dragged to the barber and get a crew cut was just too common and nobody made a fuss over it because, when you just ignored warnings, you would the respective cut. I remembered one of the year, all the guys in my guys, just decided to have botak hair cut eventually just to make it a trend and avoid people from laughing on those who kena botak hair cut! ”
Goh Meng Seng
Some more humourous perspectives include :
“This kind of haircut at $60? What a waste of good money.” – BuiKia
“Singapore’s newest legendary mother and son – Serene Ong and Ryan Ang” – Alvinology.com
Dear readers, what’s your take on this ‘teacher cuts hair, mother reports to police’ episode? The Living Guru believes that everyone is entitled to his/her opinion but we all should also learn from each other’s perspectives.
If The Living Guru were the boy’s mum, the priority will be to use the episode to teach the son the right values. If The Living Guru were the teacher, priority will be to act within permissible standards if image standards were fallen short of. If The Living Guru were the principal, the important thing is to make a stand on what is right from a value perspective. So far, it appears the principal has merely commented on procedures on what the teacher could have followed.
The authorities and parties involved do not appear to have commented on whether :
But The Living Guru is not the mum, the teacher, not the principal. We do not have full facts of the situation and cannot pass accurate judgement. But we learn from observing things around us. From this, we learn that importance of education – it is not just learning knowledge from school textbooks – it’s imparting the correct values to the future generation and it must have the moral authority to do so. The $60 haircut may be ruined, but the lessons behind are worth far more, if one were to look beyond the school rules and legalities.
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