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Teacher combs her student’s hair, ignites heated debate

Jayne Matthews Hopson | 1/9/2015, 6 a.m.
Blogger Vernessa Cole posted before and after photos of a little girl’s hair to illustrate a post about a teacher ...
Blogger Vernessa Cole posted before and after photos of a little girl’s hair to illustrate a post about a teacher who became so distressed by the condition of a student’s unkempt appearance, she decided to comb, brush, remove lint and neatly braid the child’s hair.

•“I think the attention should be on why this child isn’t getting proper grooming at home, not condemning the person who helped her.”

•“OK, posting the photos may have been out of line. But, last time I checked teachers didn’t permission to care”

•“When you enroll your child in school most of the time parents sign a wavier giving permission for photographs to be taken of activities and other events during the term. As parents we give the school permission to care for our children’s health and wellness, which in my opinion includes the psychological, social and mental wellbeing. Making a student’s hair neat and presentable certainly seems to qualify for attending to a child’s emotional wellness.”

Here are my comments published on Facebook on the post: To me, the teacher’s actions are a perfect example of old school education. My late mother taught third grade at a school around the corner from our home. I remember her mending, washing and ironing clothes we outgrew and taking them to class on picture day, field trip and special assembly days. She put the clothes, along with a few of those small black dime store combs in a brown A&P supermarket sack. She’d bring the bag back home empty, neatly folded and store it away for next time. She never really talked about why she did this. But, as one who years later worked in school administration I think she recognized the connection between learning and the need for students to feel good about their appearance at school.

Jayne Matthews Hopson writes about educational matters because in the words of Epictetus, former slave and Greek Stoic philosopher, “only the educated are free.”