Rules are rules no matter what the situation may be, and we are all taught from a young age to follow those rules without complaint or objection. But what happens when we don’t agree with the rules? Or when the rules have poor justification behind them? These are the questions I began asking myself a few years ago about the “no hat” policy at WCI.
Of course there are several arguments as to why hats should not be allowed in school, but in my opinion, the reasoning behind them is not particularly convincing. I am often told by teachers and other staff members that the main reason hats are banned is for student safety. This explanation seems a bit questionable to me given the fact that two thirds of public schools in the Kitchener-Waterloo region allow their students to wear hats. The safety of students is obviously a major concern, but if the majority of high schools currently allow hats, they must not be a very serious threat.
In the past, hats have also been used to promote gangs and conceal contraband. These two issues are definitely not something to joke about, but in this day and age, students can find any number of different ways to hide illicit material or advertise violence if they feel so inclined. To put the situation into context, the Record recently reported that the Kitchener-Waterloo region has been considered one of the safest areas in all of Canada. This revelation suggests that although hats may be a concern in certain regions with high crime rates, Kitchener-Waterloo is simply not one of those regions.
Hats are also considered a “distraction” when it comes to participation in the classroom, but how is a hat different from any other article of clothing? I suppose administration could be worried about students fooling around with their hats in class and not paying attention to what’s being taught, but at the same time, if schools are really that concerned about distraction, why are cellphones not banned? A study from 2010 by the Pew Research Center reported that 58% of students send or receive text messages during class. While this is an American study, it is not hard to see similar evidence in our classrooms. Since 2010, the popularity of cellphones has only increased, so imagine what that number looks like nowadays.
Another point which is commonly proposed in the argument against hats is etiquette. Traditionally, it has been considered polite to remove hats upon entering any building. However, as time has passed, this school of thought has become less and less common. I believe that as long as hats are removed for the national anthem and any other formal occasion, they should be allowed in academic facilities.
I suppose the point I am stressing is: why not allow hats? What do we really have to lose?
At the end of the day, the “no hat” rule will undoubtedly vary from school to school. My general belief is that hats should be allowed, but with certain restrictions. I am certainly not saying that WCI should allow students to wear hats 100% of the time, but why not around the halls and at lunch? Even if hats continue to be banned from classrooms, allowing them during other school hours is always an idea.