Too Cool for School?

Last night, I sat in the pub with a friend of mine, who would love to have tattoos, but wants to be a teacher and feels that he can’t. Maybe today’s story might give a bit of hope that one day, he won’t have to worry.

There’s been lots of talk over in Sweden this week, about a guy called Sam Aalto, who is a teacher in Skövde. Despite being a fully competent teacher, who seems to be very well- liked by teachers and students alike, Sam’s abilities as a teacher were questioned when a local politician visited the school.

From The Local:

“Can a teacher really look like that,” a startled Grönwall asked, according to the Aftonbladet daily.

After speaking to one of the headmasters and not getting the response he was after, Grönwall decided to write to the local school board (Skolnämnden).

In his letter he questioned the example a teacher like Aalto would set for students as well as the values of the school letting someone like Aalto teach there.

The school board however did not share Grönwall’s view, coming out in defence of Aalto and Vasaskolan.

“To let our students solely see adults with no tattoos or piercings and wearing suits would not show them an accurate view of today’s society,” they wrote in their response to Grönwall’s complaint.

To see the school board defending Sam is bloody fantastic to see. Of course, this does open up some discussion around teachers and tattoos. Actually, I suppose the real debate is over what is deemed as professional. There is no set definition of what is professional, and it is up to an employer to decide upon that. This can have some pretty bad consequences at times, particularly for those with tattoos.

However, a teacher like Sam shows that, if you’re prepared to work hard enough you can have as many tattoos as you like once you’ve secured your job. There are lots of us who work hard at what we do, waiting for the day we can have our necks or hands tattooed, and it’s actually good encouragement at times! Should Sam be judged on whether he is professional in his job, when he has clearly worked hard enough to be respected whether or not he has tattoos?

This is a story I think I’ll add to the “small victories for those with tattoos” scoreboard against bigoted and old fashioned views ;)


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