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Student suspended for his Pastafari faith





c'tair
Quote:

A student has been suspended from school in America for coming to class dressed as a pirate.

But the disciplinary action has provoked controversy because the student says that the ban violates his rights, as the pirate costume is part of his religion.

Bryan Killian says that he follows the Pastafarian religion, and that as a crucial part of his faith, he must wear 'full pirate regalia' as prescribed in the holy texts of Pastafarianism.

The school, however, say that his pirate garb was disruptive.


Source: http://www.metro.co.uk/weird/43272-student-punished-for-spaghetti-beliefs#ixzz1NbyhM6n0

What do you think about this issue?
I think it's total BS. If they accept crosses, burkas and whatnot, they should accept the disciples of His Noodliness. The student should be able to sue the school for taking away his constitutional right of practicing religion and while the school may retaliate back, he would have enough money to go to a private school.
Bikerman
No, I cannot agree (maybe this is influenced by the fact I was a schoolteacher).
The child is flouting the school rules and the 'religion' angle is simply a distraction.
IF he was making a legitimate point (say, for example, that Sikh students were allowed to carry ceremonial daggers, or wear turbans) then I would probably support it. The way it is presented, however, suggests that he simply decided to be a bit of a rebel and didn't accept the consequences that such rebellion normally provokes.
Afaceinthematrix
Laws are present to keep society functioning and to protect the rights of everyone else. Everyone has the right to a good learning environment while in the schools that tax dollars pay for. So if, as the school said, he is being a distraction then his outfit has to go. So what if it is hurting his "religion"? We have laws protecting the rights of the individual to practice their religion - but not at the expense of everyone else. He can wear that at home (which he probably doesn't because I agree with Bikerman - he is just trying to be a rebel. I was just like that kid when I was in high school). But at school, he is hurting the rights of others by distracting them from getting their education.

What do you think the point of a dress code is anyways? You think it actually matters what someone wears? They will still learn the same amount anyways. That is how I thought in high school. It wasn't until after high school that I realized that I would not have learned a damn thing if the hot girls had shown up in extremely short shorts and spaghetti straps. I was too horny. Hell, I am still that way. Even today, in college, I purposely won't sit in plain view of the hot women or else my attention suffers. Wearing a pirate costume (except maybe on Halloween if the school allows students to come to school in a costume) is against dress code and is a distraction.
ocalhoun
Bikerman wrote:

IF he was making a legitimate point (say, for example, that Sikh students were allowed to carry ceremonial daggers, or wear turbans)

But who gets to decide if the point is legitimate?

I don't know about you, but I don't trust the state with the authority to decide whose religious point is legitimate and whose is not.




(Completely besides the point that the state shouldn't be in the business of trying to enforce conformity upon a rebellious child... Even if religion wasn't involved. Heck, if I were in a public school, I might do the same thing, just to protest illegitimately state-enforced conformity. The student shouldn't even need to support his case with religious arguments; it should be fine to dress as a pirate even if you're doing it just because you feel like it.*)

*This is in a public -- forced attendance -- institution.
In a private institution, or even an optional public institution, one can require that attendees consent to certain restrictions in order to attend, but if you're going to force people to attend, you can't legitimately require such things. The difference is that the state is telling him that he must not dress as a pirate during this time -- no exceptions, no opt-out, which is an abuse of state power.
Nameless
ocalhoun wrote:
The difference is that the state is telling him that he must not dress as a pirate during this time -- no exceptions, no opt-out, which is an abuse of state power.

Going to school in what probably amounts to a party costume is going to distract other students and harm their education. How is this 'enforcing conformity' any worse than stopping a student from turning up naked or blaring an air horn every three minutes? Practically speaking, you have to enforce some rules if you want the attendance to be meaningful.
ocalhoun
Nameless wrote:
ocalhoun wrote:
The difference is that the state is telling him that he must not dress as a pirate during this time -- no exceptions, no opt-out, which is an abuse of state power.

Going to school in what probably amounts to a party costume is going to distract other students and harm their education. How is this 'enforcing conformity' any worse than stopping a student from turning up naked or blaring an air horn every three minutes? Practically speaking, you have to enforce some rules if you want the attendance to be meaningful.

You can solve the problem quite easily by making attendance non-mandatory.
Once attendance is no longer mandatory, it is ethical and legitimate to have requirements for behavior in order to attend.
Bikerman
No, I disagree. Society insists that children are educated for good reason. Many children might not choose to go to school, but we do not grant full rights to children and we accept that an education is necessary, therefore we allow compulsion. I think that is correct.
Nameless
ocalhoun wrote:
You can solve the problem quite easily by making attendance non-mandatory.
Once attendance is no longer mandatory, it is ethical and legitimate to have requirements for behavior in order to attend.

That's like saying that you can solve the problem of your bum looking big in those jeans by getting a butcher's knife and hacking off lumps of flesh.

It's technically true, but not a good a idea for practical reasons.
deanhills
Sounds like a fun religion to be in

I find the Pirate Dress quite hilarious. If all children can dress up like this, I'm sure life could be much more interesting for them at school along Patch Adams lines. If it is done in the right way it could be educational. Everyone can dress according to their own beliefs. Or according to a specific theme that they get to pick. I can imagine a few magic ponies as well. Twisted Evil
ocalhoun
Bikerman wrote:
No, I disagree. Society insists that children are educated for good reason. Many children might not choose to go to school, but we do not grant full rights to children and we accept that an education is necessary, therefore we allow compulsion. I think that is correct.

Now that universal school attendance is the socially accepted norm, (and now that anti-child labor laws have been passed) I don't think that making attendance compulsory is as needed as it once was.
Very few parents would choose to have their children not be educated at all.
(Many might send them to religious schools or home-school them instead, but this happens already under the current system.)

Ideally, education would be provided free for everybody, but required of nobody.
Bikerman
I don't agree. We already have significant numbers of parent who don't really give a damn about education - I meet many of them. If you remove the requirement for school you can bet that the education of their kids would suffer.
deanhills
ocalhoun wrote:
Ideally, education would be provided free for everybody, but required of nobody.
I agree with this. Times have changed. If children have a need for being educated, they will get educated. My sister is a teacher and she is doing voluntary teaching for children from very poor homes. They can't get to regular Government schools even if they wanted to as they live in remote areas. The immediate community identified families like that (along your charter suggestion lines Smile ), then asked my sister if she could start a little school. It is now a thriving project. But wow, the misery is unbelievable! It has been a very educational experience to her as well.
Nameless
Bikerman wrote:
I don't agree. We already have significant numbers of parent who don't really give a damn about education - I meet many of them. If you remove the requirement for school you can bet that the education of their kids would suffer.

This, and the number of people who didn't care or couldn't be bothered with educating their children would probably grow somewhat after the first generation or two. Let's not forget the children themselves either, a significant percentage of whom aren't yet mature enough to want to go to school; without outside pressure from the law, the number who were sent to school but then ditched it would rise. Even the teachers are less likely to care about failing students when they know that said students will freely quit sooner or later.
deanhills
@Nameless. That sounds like a caretaker community to me. So when those guys finally get into needing to be gainfully employed, they still need to be taken care off. That to me is no way of getting people to be educated. Then rather focus all of the resources on those who do want to learn and do well, than children who don't want to go to school driving teachers crazy and taking up so much of their time and energy at the expense of students who deserve their time. All of this has to do with parents who are not parenting their children and it is unfair to put that load on the school education system.

Earlier on my sister was teaching Grade 12 kids in a high school in a biggish town in South Africa. She's a good teacher who can take lots of abuse, but she hated teaching there as the kids were just not interested in learning, as they were getting it free maybe. It's so easy. Then shortly after she decided to go for rural teaching, where black kids were walking bare feet for miles to get to the Government school she was teaching at at the time, and there was this great joy of experience with students who really wanted to learn. Sad thing is, there were many more students than class room space. So I'd rather get rid of those kids in the high school who don't really want to learn, and use those resources for kids who really want to learn.

The "drop outs" may discover one day they really need education, in which case they can work on that in whichever way society can help them with, as there are more ways of educating kids than just the Government system. There was a system in South Africa for example where one could get your school qualifications through distance learning or attending a non-Government school. There are many ways to skin a cat, but to waste scarce resources on kids who don't want to learn I think is a bad education for those kids as well.
Bikerman
A recipe for disaster as well as one which would entrench and deepen class division.
Middle-class parents normally care more about their kids education - because they come from homes where education was considered important and they have directly benefitted as a result. Some working class parents never had much education and don't see the value. They think that because they left school at 14 then there is nothing wrong with their kids doing the same.

So lets consider what would happen if you got your way and schooling was made voluntary.
Firstly you would get a disproportionate number of working class kids dropping out of education entirely. This would, as is well documented, lead to a sub-class of essentially unemployable youth. Lacking prospects and money they would quickly become completely alienated from society and drift into crime. How do we know? Because this is what already happens to many kids who drop out early. What your proposal would do is massively increase this problem. This then becomes a problem for everyone as crime rates soar and a growing under-class develops.

You think that bad parents mean that the kids should be essentially written off. I think that is immoral. You would be basically throwing those kids on the scrap heap because they were badly parented, when I believe that it is those kids who need the most help, not the least. The notion that they would later realise the value of education and go back to school is unrealistic. A tiny number may do - many of the rest will either be dealing drugs, in prison or dead.

I am also puzzled by your comparison with South Africa. The UK and US are much more advanced economies with better education systems. South Africa is still largely a developing country with a very patchy and second-rate education system. Why do you think that Western countries should seek to emulate that?
Nameless
deanhills wrote:
So I'd rather get rid of those kids in the high school who don't really want to learn, and use those resources for kids who really want to learn.

The kids who want to learn are going to learn of their own accord. They won't be as efficient at it with limited teacher access, but generally the difference is going to be small. The kids who don't want to learn are not going to learn at all without compulsory education. Even if the teachers can only stuff them moderately full of knowledge, that's a much larger difference for the same resources. Maybe it sucks to be the smart kids, but it would suck to be the smart kids even more if they grew up and found out that half of the peers are functionally illiterate.

Bikerman wrote:
Middle-class parents normally care more about their kids education - because they come from homes where education was considered important and they have directly benefitted as a result. Some working class parents never had much education and don't see the value. They think that because they left school at 14 then there is nothing wrong with their kids doing the same.

I agree with you, but I'd just like to point out that this is a terrible argument. Asserting that you can't understand the benefits of X without being forced to do X is part of what gives us wars over ... bunk beds.

People who sleep in bunk beds care about sleeping in bunk beds because they enjoy sleeping in bunk beds. Some people don't sleep in bunk beds and they don't understand the joy of sleeping in bunk beds. They think just because they sleep in single beds that they don't need bunk beds!

What if the people who sleep in single beds got their way and children were allowed to sleep in single beds? Barely anybody would sleep in bunk beds and this would be terrible because they wouldn't have the joy of sleeping in bunk beds. Even the people who do sleep in bunk beds would suffer when the others were grumpy from their bad night's sleep in single beds!

But we can't give up on people who sleep in single beds. It's not their fault they've never slept in bunk beds. These people have to be forced to sleep in bunk beds, it's the only way they can learn why they should sleep in bunk beds! Nobody who sleeps in single beds will understand why they should sleep in bunks beds unless they sleep in bunk beds.
deanhills
Nameless wrote:
deanhills wrote:
So I'd rather get rid of those kids in the high school who don't really want to learn, and use those resources for kids who really want to learn.

The kids who want to learn are going to learn of their own accord. They won't be as efficient at it with limited teacher access, but generally the difference is going to be small. The kids who don't want to learn are not going to learn at all without compulsory education. Even if the teachers can only stuff them moderately full of knowledge, that's a much larger difference for the same resources. Maybe it sucks to be the smart kids, but it would suck to be the smart kids even more if they grew up and found out that half of the peers are functionally illiterate.
Why do people always assume that it is only the bright kids who want to learn? There are many kids who aren't that bright, who really want to learn and I'm all for them being helped by teachers. I'm talking about your real rebels who genuinely don't want to go to school. The ones who disrupt the class room and absorb large amounts of resources in terms of teacher time. If the school education system wants to adopt a social worker/psychologist role as well, then why not put those children in separate class rooms? Better yet, ship them to military schools where they can be taught proper discipline and manners. Ideally though, I'd just give up on them. That in its own may have the desired affect of them wanting to learn. I.e. along reverse psychology lines.
Nameless
I was under the impression that most children disliked schoolwork not because they're rebelling against parents who want them to learn but because it's work. Work sucks for plenty of adults, and children don't even get the choice of profession or immediate reward or mentally maturation. If education wasn't compulsory, there would be far more students who won't turn up than the classroom dickhead.
Bikerman
Nameless wrote:
I agree with you, but I'd just like to point out that this is a terrible argument. Asserting that you can't understand the benefits of X without being forced to do X is part of what gives us wars over ... bunk beds.
Huh? There is nothing terrible about the argument, and your analogy is flawed. Instead of bunk-beds, try 'reading and writing' for bunk beds and 'illiteracy' for single beds. Doesn't hold up, does it?
Education is not some 'personal whim' that is just one of a number of equally good choices. It is the key to freedom. Without knowledge of choices there is no freedom.
Also note that I was not over-generalising. I didn't say that a lack of education meant that one would always be unappreciative of the merits of education - that is certainly not true and I know many 'uneducated' adults who are fanatical about their childrens education. If, however, you are the child of someone with little education, brought up on welfare on a 'sink estate', then it is more likely that you will have a pretty negative attitude to school. That is based on many years experience, rather than preconception.
Bikerman
Quote:
Why do people always assume that it is only the bright kids who want to learn? There are many kids who aren't that bright, who really want to learn and I'm all for them being helped by teachers. I'm talking about your real rebels who genuinely don't want to go to school. The ones who disrupt the class room and absorb large amounts of resources in terms of teacher time. If the school education system wants to adopt a social worker/psychologist role as well, then why not put those children in separate class rooms? Better yet, ship them to military schools where they can be taught proper discipline and manners. Ideally though, I'd just give up on them. That in its own may have the desired affect of them wanting to learn. I.e. along reverse psychology lines.

As I said, I find this immoral. If your entire childhood is spent in the company of people who devalue education then it is likely that you will do the same. Children of racists are normally racist children. Children are sponges that absorb everything around them. They are genetically programmed to believe what adults tell them - hence they accept Santa Claus unthinkingly, without even wondering how he could possibly get down the chimney when they have central heating.
Instead of exposing them to adults with a more balanced and civilised message to give, you would simply junk them.

Post edited to remove potentially offensive lines, as a result of peer-review
Bikerman.
Nameless
@ Bikerman: The bunk beds were the joke. The obvious comparison I was avoiding was religious belief.
Bikerman
Nameless wrote:
@ Bikerman: The bunk beds were the joke. The obvious comparison I was avoiding was religious belief.

Smile It is, nontheless, a point which is frequently made and which needs addressing. 'What right' goes the argument 'has the state to interfere in parenting?'. I believe it does have the right, largely because a child is not the property of the parents and the individual has certain responsibilities, as well as rights, by the very fact that they are a citizen.
ocalhoun
Bikerman wrote:
I believe it does have the right, largely because a child is not the property of the parents and the individual has certain responsibilities, as well as rights, by the very fact that they are a citizen.

Problem is, the child is not property of the state either.
I reject the notion that any* state can require 'responsibilities' of its citizens.

*Any state that is not operated on a fully consensual basis. States operated in a voluntary and fully consensual (to every individual) manner have a legitimate right to expect responsibilities from those who participate, though the maximum penalty for rejecting such responsibilities should be expulsion from the system.



Also, I'm not so sure about your 'poor classes won't send their children to school' theory...
Seems to me that most of them -- if for no other reason -- would be eager to send them off to 'free day care'. Many parents I know have looked forward to the beginning of school so that they no longer have to pay for day care and/or stay home from work to watch them.



And, lastly, I reject the 'nanny state' notion that the state should be intimately involved in providing for the welfare if its citizens. I'm of the opinion that the state should make sure that they have equal opportunity, and then let them make what they will of that opportunity.


*edit*
Oh, almost forgot. There have been some reports about posts in this topic, but it is my policy to not moderate topics that I am actively participating in, or that I have clearly taken sides in.

However, I will ask that everyone from here on make posts with care, and watch out for phrases that may be interpreted in an offensive way.
Bikerman
ocalhoun wrote:
Bikerman wrote:
I believe it does have the right, largely because a child is not the property of the parents and the individual has certain responsibilities, as well as rights, by the very fact that they are a citizen.

Problem is, the child is not property of the state either.
I reject the notion that any* state can require 'responsibilities' of its citizens.

*Any state that is not operated on a fully consensual basis. States operated in a voluntary and fully consensual (to every individual) manner have a legitimate right to expect responsibilities from those who participate, though the maximum penalty for rejecting such responsibilities should be expulsion from the system.
I'll need to split this up to deal with it in reasonable chunks. let's take this, first.

Two problems with this. A fully consensual state is an impossibility. Within any large grouping of people you will have divergent opinions and there will be some who do not accept the state position, whatever it is.
Secondly, expulsion from the system would be a death sentence, or a withdrawal of citizenship which would leave the person stateless. 'The system' includes provision of necessities, such as heat, light, a home etc. Whilst you could argue that these should be provided by the free market, the reality (certainly in Europe) is that the state has to 'oversee' any such market because, rather like the recent financial crisis, some companies in that market cannot be allowed to fail - and failing (or at least the chance of failure) is a requirement for any true market..
ocalhoun
Bikerman wrote:

Two problems with this. A fully consensual state is an impossibility. Within any large grouping of people you will have divergent opinions and there will be some who do not accept the state position, whatever it is.

True, there will always be people who reject the state position.
And I would say that there is no morally legitimate way to justify forcing them to accept that position anyway.

The only possible justification I can see is pure pragmatism, where you say 'yes, it is morally wrong, but things work better overall if we do it anyway'.
Quote:

Secondly, expulsion from the system would be a death sentence, or a withdrawal of citizenship which would leave the person stateless. 'The system' includes provision of necessities, such as heat, light, a home etc. Whilst you could argue that these should be provided by the free market, the reality (certainly in Europe) is that the state has to 'oversee' any such market because, rather like the recent financial crisis, some companies in that market cannot be allowed to fail - and failing (or at least the chance of failure) is a requirement for any true market..

Given adequate hospitable land, some tools, and some know-how, people can survive without any societal support.
Is it as good of a life? Generally not. However, I do think that people should be free to remove themselves from this deal known as a 'state' if it does not suit them. The state provides benefits as well as harm, but it should be up to each individual to decide which outweighs the other.
Bikerman
Ahh...if we are going to allow a wholesale change of society then that is different. The proposal here, though, was about existing society and whether schooling should be compulsory. Trying to impose part of one overall system on another completely different system is deeply problematic.
ocalhoun
Bikerman wrote:
Ahh...if we are going to allow a wholesale change of society then that is different. The proposal here, though, was about existing society and whether schooling should be compulsory. Trying to impose part of one overall system on another completely different system is deeply problematic.

Well, if you want to go all the way back on topic, it's about if it is right or not to prevent a believer -- of questionable sincerity -- of an odd-ball faith to practice the tenants of his faith in the same way that any other religion gets exceptions to dress codes. -- Despite any distraction that may occur.

And on that note... I demand scientific study.
I want a study done of these 5 groups of students:
1- Ordinary class that is not aware of being studied*
2- Ordinary class that is aware of being studied
3- Class conforming to school dress codes, but with a few individuals pushing the boundaries of it
4- Class with obvious religious garb of other religions present
5- Class with obvious religious garb of pastafarianism present (ie pirate costume)

I want a reasonably large study to eliminate statistical deviations, want students randomly assigned to the various classes, and then all taught the same lesson plans by the same teachers, in the same manner.

Then, I want to compare the grades of all 5 classes, and I want to see if class 5 really does much worse than the others... particularly 2,3, and 4.


That way, we could settle the dispute about if it would disrupt class or not.


*Optional. Could try to have such an unaware group for all 4 other groups, but for some it may be difficult to keep the studying a secret.
Bikerman
The problem would be that you couldn't 'blind' the test. For a proper trial you need to blind, or ideally double blind the test.
A blind test means the subjects don't know whether they are control or not.
A double blind test means that the subjects AND the experimenter doesn't know.

The other problem is in your selection of criteria. Exam results are ONE measure of a school system but surely not the only one? If exam results were the only important factor then surely we would eliminate all extra-curricular activity....
ocalhoun
Bikerman wrote:
The problem would be that you couldn't 'blind' the test. For a proper trial you need to blind, or ideally double blind the test.
A blind test means the subjects don't know whether they are control or not.
A double blind test means that the subjects AND the experimenter doesn't know.

Well, yes, I'm well aware of that. Problem is, it would be difficult in practicality to do that... especially since students in class 5 are going to wonder why the pirate is allowed to dress that way when students usually aren't.

...I suppose it might be possible to convince them that something else is being studied... perhaps the effect of background musing on study... But even then, some might wonder, why is there a pirate in the classroom?
Quote:

The other problem is in your selection of criteria. Exam results are ONE measure of a school system but surely not the only one? If exam results were the only important factor then surely we would eliminate all extra-curricular activity....

Also true, though exam results are attractive because they are objective and quantifiable.

Some other things that could be measured, though, are teacher time spent on discipline, time spent looking at the other students vs. time spent looking at teacher/board/books, et cetera.


Creating a perfect study of this would be extremely difficult... but even an imperfect study would give more insight than the raw conjecture we're working with now.
Bikerman
Oh I agree. In fact I think you should write it up as a proposal and I'll ask a couple of friends to give it the once over (they are in the business of scientific trials). You could get your name in the scientific journals Smile
deanhills
ocalhoun wrote:
Some other things that could be measured, though, are teacher time spent on discipline, time spent looking at the other students vs. time spent looking at teacher/board/books, et cetera.
I like the idea with where you are going with a scientific study Ocalhoun. With regard to the quote above, I totally agree. There are only so many resources available for education, and teacher resources should therefore be used to the benefit of all. So there should be accounting of how the "teaching" time is spent. If there is an overly focus on social work and psychological counselling by teachers, then this should not come at the expense of the resources that should be shared equally among all students, i.e. your problem students get attention at the expense of all the other students. One of two remedies can then happen. The students are expelled. Or there is a special school set up for dealing with problem students. Or teachers get trained as psychologists and social workers as well. And this is worked into the budget through additional funding from the local Governments. I'm not so sure how practical the latter would be though, as there is enough stress on teachers as it is already without having to become experts in social working and psychological counselling.

I also see it wrong for parents to expect that teachers should be "parenting" their children. In the same way that they are supposed to get their religious training at home, their psychological problems are really the parents' responsibility. If one is in a hospital, a doctor would never get involved in a social worker problem, even if he feels a great compassion towards children with social problems. That case is usually referred outside - i.e. social workers. I would imagine if you have a problem child at school, something similar should be happening in this case too.

I would see this especially problematic with math and science subjects where teachers are enormously scarce. Every minute of teaching counts. So is it really fair to expect a large portion of the teaching time dedicated to helping students who don't want to learn at the expense of those who don't only want to learn, but who also want to do well at the subjects?
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