A primary school in central London has announced that children must walk through corridors with their hands clasped behind their backs to “go shine in the world” (the school’s motto).
New headteacher of St George the Martyr primary school, Angela Abrahams, introduced the rule, known as the “university walk” to “strengthen pupil safety, further raise the aspirations of pupils and to maximise learning time“.
Parents in opposition to the rule have created a petition in response, arguing that it is “too dictatorial, too restrictive and very repressive“. Carly Taylor, mother of three, claimed: “hands behind the backs is associated with a loss of liberty and lack of trust”.
For many years, state schools have been compared to prisons. Critics highlight harsh punishments, strict dress codes, poor food quality and numerous surveillance cameras, as just a few examples of how schools are similar to prisons. The “university walk” rule undoubtedly gives merit to the comparison. The image of children being forced to walk with their hands clasped behind backs between lessons, would look very similar to that of prisoners being forced to walk with their hands cuffed behind their backs between jail cells.
Reverend Guy Pope, the school’s chairman, backed the rule, stating that “it is helping to make sure children arrive in class in the best possible frame of mind for learning, in a calm and ordered manner”. Unbelievably, Pope also claimed that “parents are not looking after the best interests of their children“.
The quote is sure to have Murray Rothbard spinning furiously in his grave. In his book Education: Free and Compulsory, Rothbard argued that the key question in the education discussion is simply: should the parent or the state be the overseer of the child?
As parents are the literal producers of the child, it is obvious that they have the most intimate relationship with the child, therefore the parents are the ones most invested in the child’s personality and development. The state, on the other hand, has little regard for the child’s rights and individual personality, instead teaching uniformity, conformity and obedience, which this new rule is a perfect example of.