In the past few days the landscape of education has changed. Teachers, always put on pedestals and considered omnipotent, have been granted the right, or have just taken it upon themselves, to take matters in their own hands. Literally.
A female science teacher had chided two of her pupils for showing up to class without showing a modicum of decency. Berating them from behind her full face veil, the teacher told them off for not sporting any kind of veil. Standing up for their rights, or just doing what their parents told them to do, the girls did not give in to this bullying. But the teacher had more than razor sharp words in store for them. Scissors to be exact. Without compunction she cut off their long hair to ensure they would not walk around enticing anyone with their female wiles and beauty. They are both ten years old.
If you think this is just the work of one deranged woman who feels teacher knows best, you probably have not heard the minister of education condoning minor corporal punishment in schools. Nothing wrong with a smack, whack or general crack of a minor whip to get some knowledge into those subversive youngsters seems to be the general thought.
All that nonsense that children deserve to be in a safe environment in schools is of course humbug. We all know that all they are interested in is lurid indecency, that they spend their time plotting mischief and are generally guilty of all and nothing the moment they show up in their little uniforms. High time that teachers were given the proper tools to teach.
It made me think though, being an editor involves teaching in a way. You know, if I stretch the definition a bit. Some of the writers I work with are quite young, and they do ask me questions about articles. Come to think of it, most writers are younger than I am.
So, this morning as I packed my bag, I added a few extra things to make sure we would have a productive day at work. Shears, scissors, assorted lengths of rope and of course a straight razor. Feeling like a cross between Mrs Lovett and Sweeney Todd I wished the collective office a chipper good morning which receive puzzled frowns in return. I am normally not very talkative at the start of a day, so my good mood was an anomaly that was met with a general trepidation.
Undeterred I set about my day, with one eye on my bag of goodies and another on the clock. And yes, our art and culture reporter was late! Mumbling about traffic he slid behind his desk, having no idea that the world was about to crash down around his ears. Well, at least his hair.
Looking at him sternly from above my glasses I pointed to the clock. The surprise on his face would have been funny at an earlier date, but times have changed, even if he did not know it yet. After a quick rummage I walked over to his desk, accompanied by a metal clanking of the instruments in my hand. I am not a complete tyrant, yet, so I offered him a choice – the beard or the hair.
Since he just sat there I decided to be merciful and just give him a quick trim. Sadly I have no artistic talents when it comes to grooming, so he probably would have been less traumatised than he ended up being by his new do if I would have shaved his head completely, but hey, he should have been on time.
And that was just the start of the day. As the other editors were informed of what had gone on by the rest of the frantically whispering reporters, they quickly saw the merit of shaving and saving their voices. They too let my instruments do the talking and the swish of falling hair and the raspy sound of beards being obliterated were heard around the premises all through the day.
Personally I shaved the head of that pesky girl that keeps coming up with pitches I had not thought of before, I de-bearded the earnest young reporter who writes in flawless English, making my job obsolete, and tied up my boss for most of the day because she indicated that maybe she did not agree with my new strategy.
There is a flaw in this new approach though, once shorn it takes some time before the same punishment can be inflicted again. Not to worry though, I have a full weekend ahead to design a system of whacks with the cane I sport since someone stuck out their leg and I fell down the stairs.
Nobody can tell me I am a foreigner who does not know how to assimilate.