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Should religious symbols be worn in school


This argument is one of an increasing figure within the broad issue of faith and instruction. It is per se linked to these other arguments, including faith versus secular instruction, school dinner bill of fare, and the instruction of creationism versus development. This is an international issue, with each state looking to near it otherwise.

***summary from other states ****

There have besides been a figure of noteworthy instances in the UK. ****

In this essay, I will research what is meant by spiritual symbols, explore the chief statements within this argument and place possible ways of deciding the argument.


It is of import to clear up what is meant by the term “ spiritual symbols ” . They can be defined as any object, jewelry point or piece of dressing worn or carried harmonizing to the philosophy of the person ‘s faith, normally as specified in spiritual texts.

For Christians, this is typically the erosion of a cross or rood necklace, as outlined in 1 Corinthians, “ But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks folly ” ( 1A Cor 1:23 ) . In Islam, there are guidelines for both work forces and adult females. Muslim adult females are instructed to have on the hijab, a headscarf covering the hair, a nijab, a head covering for the face and/or a jilbab, a long baggy dress-like garment. Harmonizing to Martin et Al. ( 2003 ) , the symbolic significances of these have changed through the centuries. Originally the term hijab referred to a head covering or drape used to supply privateness between adult male and adult female. Work force are instructed in the Qur’an to turn to the married womans of the Prophet Muhammad from behind this head covering. Today this is represented by Muslim adult females have oning the head covering as a symbol of modestness and virtuousness.

There are five spiritual symbols for Sikhs, including the dastar, a turban that must be worn by all Sikhs who have been baptised, and the kara, an Fe watchband, stand foring infinity. Judaic symbols include the Star of David, normally worn as a necklace, and the kippa, which is a level hemispherical headstall worn at all times by male Orthodox Jews. The Talmud, a aggregation of spiritual instructions, instructs, “ Cover your caput in order that the fright of Eden may be upon you ” .

Although all of these spiritual symbols may be the cause of contention, following the terrorist onslaughts on September 11 2001, overpoweringly the intelligence coverage and academic research focuses on symbols of the Muslim religion. This will be reflected by the content of this essay. Research indicates a recent important rise in “ Islamophobia ” , a phenomenon defined by Gottschalk & A ; Greenberg ( 2007 ) as a societal anxiousness based on stereotypes and fright of Islam and Muslims, and heightened in the public trough the media. Harmonizing to a canvass commissioned by The Guardian newspaper in 2005, Islamophobia has increased even further following the London bombardments in July of that twelvemonth.

However, Kalakan et Al. ( 2009 ) reviewed of studies conducted between 2000 and 2004 of Americans ‘ positions of Muslims and found no important alteration in their sentiments. Appleton ( 2005 ) interviewed 238 Muslim pupils following the events of 9/11. An overpowering 222 stated that they were opposed to the onslaughts, with many mentioning Muslim doctrines as the ground. This indicates a deep misinterpretation of Muslims, which would necessarily lend to Islamophobia.

As LaBelle ( 1976 ) provinces, schools are microcosms of mainstream society, and so it can be expected that any issues faced by society will besides be experienced by students. This is demonstrated with the argument on the erosion of spiritual symbols in schools.

There are four chief countries of statement within this argument. These are that the erosion of spiritual symbols:

Poses a wellness and safety hazard.

Inhibits integrating.

Inhibits the reading of facial looks.

Contravenes school unvarying policy.

Religious symbols pose a wellness and safety hazard

A figure of instruction governments have raised this as an issue. For illustration, in an article in the Times newspaper, the London borough council of Tower Hamlets has banned the erosion of spiritual vesture saying that the jilbab may present a trip jeopardy for students have oning it or it may go embroiled in scientific discipline and engineering machinery. Similarly, Denbigh High School cited wellness and safety as one of the grounds for suspending pupil Shabina Begum for have oning a jilbab. While the High Court supported the school ‘s determination to suspend Begum as she violated the uniform policy, the Court dismissed claims that there were any wellness and safety issues associated with this garment. Guidelines published by the National Union of Teachers ( NUT ) states that, “ In most lessons, the erosion of the hijab or jilbab would non show a wellness and safety jeopardy to either the wearer of the garment or other students ” . It does, nevertheless, recommend reexamining the length of these garments in some instances.

In footings of personal safety, those students have oning spiritual vesture may confront an increased hazard of intimidation, a cause of non-attendance and student hurt ( Noaks & A ; Noaks, 2000 ) . Revell ( 2010 ) conducted interviews with a sum of 116 primary school kids from Kent and Medway. A minority of the students used racist linguistic communication to depict Muslims, although most students recognised that this was socially unacceptable. A larger per centum stated that they perceive Muslims as “ non normal ” or “ different from us ” . However, treatments followed the interviewers showing media images of Islam to the kids, which may hold led to them giving responses they thought the interviewers wanted to hear, instead than their true positions.

Harmonizing to Eslea and Mukhtar ( 2000 ) , Indian Muslim, Paskistani and Hindu kids are all the victims of widespread intimidation in schools. However, they note that these kids are every bit likely to be bullied by Asiatic kids of a different ethnicity as by white kids. Bullies were besides reported as being from the same faith but a different caste. In add-on to this, white British Muslim adult females besides report having racial maltreatment while have oning the hijab ( Franks, 2000 ) , bespeaking that intimidation is a reaction to the dressing itself instead than the ethnicity of the wearer.

In contrast to this, Juvonen et Al. ( 2006 ) analysed questionnaires from more than 70 primary school kids. They found that the more ethnically diverse the category, the safer kids from an cultural minority felt. As the survey focuses on perceptual experiences of safety among cultural minorities, the reactions of white students were non explored. It is ill-defined whether they felt the same or whether they experienced a diminishing sense of safety as the categories became more ethnically diverse. Similarly, Schreck et Al. ( 2003 ) found that although societal factors, such as spiritual beliefs or ethnicity, did take to a greater hazard of exploitation, the hazards were more closely linked with the properties of schoolmates. For illustration, the hazard of exploitation was greatest when schoolmates included possible wrongdoers and those who associated with known wrongdoers.

Religious symbols inhibit integrating

French republics Child, a secondary school learning composing in the Daily Mail, describes her experiences of learning three Muslim who wore a nijab to school. She states that without being able to see the misss ‘ faces, she forgot their names and could non spot their degrees of battle as she could non see their looks. Harmonizing to Child, the misss did non prosecute in category treatments and she blames the nijab for their isolation. The misss became “ shadows ” and their deficiency of engagement meant that they were ignored by her and their schoolmates. Child extols the virtuousnesss of oculus contact in organizing bonds with pupils ; nevertheless, the nijab does non cover the eyes and so arguably this is non an issue. As the instructor, Child could hold made more attempt to prosecute the students and to guarantee they understood the class, something she admits herself.

In resistance to this position that these pupils do non incorporate in category, Housee ( 2010 ) found that they remain soundless in category because they are intimidated by talking in forepart of their equals. These students benefitted from little group seminars following talks, during which they expressed the same quality and deepness of conversation as their schoolmates.

Similarly, the claim that the misss in Childs ‘ category were ignored by their schoolmates because they did non interact can be contradicted by research by Zajonc ( 1968 ) . He explored a instance where a new student, dressed head-to-toe in a black bag, entered an Oregon schoolroom. He joined the category for three Sessionss each hebdomad, but did non interact in any manner and did non uncover his individuality. The pupils ‘ attitudes towards Black Bag was ab initio hostile but over clip this changed to wonder, with pupils finally saying that they developed a friendly relationship with him. Harmonizing to Zajonc, this was because he was a familiar and predictable presence in the schoolroom. This is an utmost illustration, but may besides be applied in some instances where Muslim pupils who have limited interactions with their schoolmates.

Carroll and Hollinshead ( 1993 ) reported that Muslim adult females are less likely to prosecute in physical instruction because of the accent of modestness within their civilization. Similarly, ethical issued may be raised in haling these pupils to take part in physical instruction during Ramadan, a clip of fasting.

In the instance, of a 12-year old Muslim miss suspended from school for have oning the nijab, the school defended its determination by saying that the nijab was a security menace, as the student was non immediately recognizable. The school besides felt that it contravened its equality policy. In add-on, the school stated that the nijab impaired instruction and acquisition. It is deserving observing that all of these claims were upheld by the tribunal except the last. Judge Stephen Siber dismissed this on the evidences of deficiency of grounds ( Smith, 2007 ) .

Religious symbols inhibit the reading of facial looks

As has already been highlighted in Child ‘s article in the Daily Mail, instructors feel it is of import to be able to read the looks of pupils. It is besides of import for schoolmates to be able to construe facial emotions. The erosion of the nijab may suppress this. Younger kids experience trouble in placing emotions, even when the whole face is seeable. Gagnon et Al. ( 2010 ) found that 5 and 6-year olds found it difficult to recognize fright and disgust from a choice of exposure of facial looks. In add-on, they experienced trouble in separating between disgust and choler and between fright and surprise. Students with particular demands may see even greater trouble in recognizing emotions. Kats-Gold et Al. ( 2007 ) found that schoolboys at hazard of ADHD demonstrated impaired emotion acknowledgment. None of the male childs who participated in the survey were from particular demands schools, intending they are representative of students in mainstream instruction. Similar consequences were found with persons with Asperger ‘s Syndrome and Autism ( Baron-Cohen et al. , 1997a ) . However, merely grownups were used in this survey, doing it hard to generalize the consequences to schoolchildren. Arguably, students will see even more trouble in placing facial looks in students have oning the nijab, with greatest troubles experienced by students with particular demands. All of these surveies used exposure instead than existent faces, which means the consequences may be as terrible in the schoolroom.

In contrast to this, Bindemann et Al. ( 2008 ) found that participants found it harder to call simple facial looks, such as felicity, fright and unhappiness, when the eyes in the exposure are averted. This indicates the importance of the eyes in emotion acknowledgment. However, in an probe into the function of the eyes in construing emotion, Leppanen and Hietanen ( 2007 ) found that oculus cues had no consequence on truth of recognizing happy emotions. However, it did take participants longer to place happy emotions when the oculus cues were removed from images. There was no difference for other emotions. Similarly, Baron-Cohen et Al. ( 1997b ) found that when recognizing basic emotions in exposure, reading the whole face produced significantly better consequences than merely the oral cavity or the eyes. However, they found that for complex mental provinces, including scheming and contemplation, reading the eyes entirely produced significantly better consequences than merely the oral cavity and every bit good consequences as seeing the whole face. A survey by Sadr et Al. ( 2003 ) identified that the superciliums were besides of import for emotion acknowledgment, with participants showing a significantly poorer public presentation on emotion acknowledgment when the superciliums were removed from exposure. These surveies indicate that it would still be possible for students to construe emotions in schoolmates have oning the nijab.

Verbal cues besides play an of import function in understanding emotion. Sabatelli and Rubin ( 1986 ) cite emotional expressivity as playing a cardinal function in the forming of relationships. Those persons with high emotional expressivity are perceived as more popular because those around them can easy construe their emotional province. This has deductions for students have oning the nijab. Even with their face concealed, they can convey their emotions through their expressivity. However, if Moslem pupils are reserved, so this will do interactions even more hard.

Religious symbols contravene school uniform policy

Kaiser ( 1985 ) highlights a figure of benefits of school uniform. It reduces force per unit area on budgets for parents ; it increases degrees of subject and improves degrees of regard for the module. Harmonizing to Kaiser, it promotes coherence and downplays the socioeconomic differences between pupils. Bodine ( 2003 ) found that school uniforms correlate positively with academic accomplishment. School uniforms enable speedy designation of students, doing interlopers easy recognizable. They besides indicate to wearers that a high degree of subject is expected ( Joseph, 1986 ) . Stanley ( 1996 ) besides believes school uniforms inhibit gang behavior, by forestalling members from have oning pack garb. It is arguable so that any disputes of the school uniform policy will hold a negative impact on academic accomplishments and subject.

Molokotos-Liederman ( 2000 ) reported that the erosion of the nijab with school uniform was the cause of widespread subject and frock codifications issues in France. These partially contributed to the determination to censor the nijab in schools. Cheurprakobit and Bartsch ( 2005 ) cite the execution of a school uniform policy as an effectual manner of cut downing offense both in and out of school. A survey of the execution of a compulsory school uniform found that one twelvemonth after the policy was introduced there was a important betterment in academic accomplishment and degrees of subject among simple school kids. However, no difference was noted in those students from in-between schools, bespeaking school uniform is more effectual with younger kids ( Shawburger-Pate, 1999 ) . In contrast to this, Yeung ‘s ( 2009 ) literature reappraisal of this country indicated that there was merely limited grounds that school uniforms have a positive impact on accomplishment.

Swain ( 2002 ) found that when the school uniform policy was relaxed, students used vesture as a manner of showing their personalities. This in bend led to increased bonding with equals, increased self-esteem and increased sharing of common involvements. Boyfriend besides notes that those students who conformed wholly to the unvarying policy were at an increased hazard of exploitation. Gereluk ( 2007 ) provinces that when judging whether school uniform policy has been violated, instructors should see whether the misdemeanor raises wellness and safety issues, and whether it oppresses the person. It should besides be considered whether the vesture is a cardinal component of the person ‘s individuality. This is clearly applicable to the erosion of spiritual vesture ; in some instances, the garments may be an intrinsic portion of the person ‘s character.


This is clearly a complex issue. It can non be addressed in isolation, as it overlaps with so many other school issues, including diet, linguistic communication, content of lessons and assemblies, hair coloring materials and manner, and makeup. It is besides portion of a wider treatment about symbols, including pack vesture, political mottos on jerseies and watchbands in support of causes. Finally, it forms portion of the wider societal issues of gender favoritism, subjugation, feminism, the struggle between tradition and modernness, secularism, ethnocentrism, globalization and human rights.

Gereluk ( 2009 ) argues that this argument is a little scale representation of the manner society as a whole references issues associating to multiculturalism and adjustment. She believes this issue is typical of many within instruction, in that it is “ ill understood, with both policies and statements ill articulated ” . She argues that the burden be shifted from those have oning the spiritual vesture to the province. She believes that it is the duty of the province to supply grounds against the erosion of spiritual vesture, instead than being the duty of the person to warrant why they should have on it.

A possible manner forward is suggested by Shah ( 2008 ) , who recommends using the Muslim construct of Adab as manner of easing multiculturalism in schools. Adab is a doctrine that focuses on developing self-esteem, positive self-perceptions, academic accomplishment and integrating. It is based on the construct that these are all linked and can be enhanced through understanding diverseness. It is clear that there will be no easy declaration to this argument, but possibly, as Shah argues, a good starting point is to look to other civilizations for counsel.

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