That Age Old Battle: Please Remove Your Hat in School

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This has been a recurring topic of conversation at school this year. Why do we ask students to remove hats when they enter the school? It’s a constant battle as many teachers attempt to enforce the rule as guards at the door. Far too often I hear “hats please” instead of “good morning!” when students enter the building. Sometimes this sets the tone and pace of the morning negatively. Actually more often then sometimes.

As a staff we determined a few reasons:

  • Like the legion, it is a sign of respect
  • Men always took hats off indoors in the 19xx’s

That is about as far as we got. With the ‘respect’ piece aside we focused on this being perhaps a 20th century rule. Men no longer remove hats at the mall, gas station, hardware store etc. And what about women? Women wear hats too.

This morning I threw it into Google for some answers and this is what I found:

Actually, it’s to pin you with evidence if you do something bad. Say you wanted to bomb your school. If you wore a hat, it would be harder for people to identify you or cameras to get a good look at you. This is why. Which is totally ridiculous, because every school has almost the same rules for each disaster or event. So, in conclusion, if you do a school shooting or something like it, they can Identify it.

Interesting. This solution implies hats were OK up until 1999 when the Columbine tragedy occurred. I am assuming this student was born after that.

Why do you have to take your hat off when you say the pledge of allegiance? It’s a sign of respect. Not removing your hat is showing disrespect.

Same applies here in Canada.Β  Every person inside the Air Canada Centre removes their hat for the national anthem. Nobody enforces it at the arena, however.

Because it’s some “unwritten” sign of respect or something… Personally I think the “etiquette” of wearing a hat, to be blunt, is stupid.

I don’t wear hats, but my school really doesn’t care. Kids wear hats in class all the time, no authorities care.

This Yahoo answer gets me in three ways. #1. This is clearly written by a student who acknowledges an ‘unwritten rule’. #2. Staff at his/her school are seen as authoritative and #3.The authorities do not ‘enforce’ or care (about hats). Sorry kid that you view staff as authorities. That’s a bummer!




After about 10 minutes on the Google machine I was seeing a pattern regarding safety. There are comments about identifying students on camera. There are comments about hiding ‘weapons’ in hats. Of course there are many comments about being polite in removing a hat indoors – but not just school – anywhere indoors.

What is it like at your school? I have noticed that once we stopped enforcing this rule, the hats seem to come off. Maybe not as soon as students enter the building, but certainly at their lockers. I have also noticed that the ‘good morning’ at the door is much more positive than ‘HATS PLEASE!’ we are so used to hearing (followed by the usual student eye roll as if to say ‘yeah I get it – I know the rule’). Hats are OK in my books but we don’t have the same safety concerns as other places. Do you allow them?




Lastly, like the hat rule, maybe once we stop enforcing the ‘gum rule’ they will stop sticking it to desks and keyboards. Perhaps we should build a school community around common sense and being good people.

Same applies to food and drinks. Stop letting the bells dictate learning. If kids are hungry, they should snack – but without interruption.

Like I said above, it’s more about school culture and community and less about the old authoritarian way of running schools. We no longer give the strap – and haven’t for years so why do we still fight silly battles.

In the words of Gma A “keep on truckin’Β  !”

-B

 

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36 Responses for this post

  1. Scott
    Scott
    | |

    Had to laugh when I saw the title of this piece…the age old battle is an accurate description. The history of the “respect” aspect of taking one’s hat off actually has an interesting historical context. Men took their hats off as a sign of respect for the man of the house that they were entering. Removing one’s hat meant “I trust your building/carpentry skills and believe your roof does not leak.” I guess if your students do not trust the roof system, they should leave their hats on! πŸ˜‰

    Reply
    1. Gwena
      Gwena
      | |

      I respectfully disagree with this post:

      1. Naively I had not realized some kids hide DRUGS not weapons in their hats.
      2. It *is* a sign of respect. We should also remove hats at restaurants and dinner tables.
      3. It is not “archaic,” it is common courtesy.
      4. No, I am most definitely NOT the teacher who chews gum but does not allow students to do so.
      5. You are wrong: I tried allowing gum and there was MUCH MORE gum under desks. My son spent HOURS cleaning desks for me (I am physically incapable).
      6. I totally agree that our first greeting should not be, “Hats off” but rather “Good morning!” Kids also should know better than to keep hats on in school.
      7. When you want to clean my classroom, then you can tell me how to run it. πŸ˜‰

      Respectfully,

      Reply
      1. johnny
        johnny
        | |

        I very much disagree with you… yes kids can hide drugs in hats, but they can also hide drugs in their pockets. and i dont see how it is disrespectful, its just a hat… what is there like some ‘overlord’ that says its disrespectful? No its only ‘disrespectful’ because we say it is, so if we say it isn’t than it’s not… I also agree with her on if you let kids cuss, chew gum, wear hats, and pass notes… they will get tired of it after a while. The main reason us kids do the stuff we do is because it is fun to do something your not supposed to, like chew gum in class, or pass notes. If you let us do this stuff it wont be as fun anymore and it will loose point

        Reply
      2. alex
        alex
        | |

        well that means that your students must not want to chew gum or just really hate you. Either way hats are like a desiqn or style so what your going to have us take of our shirts or shoes this is bs us students should be able to wear hats in school

        Reply
        1. Noah
          Noah
          | |

          Look I have a semi kid friendly YouTube channel but really what the fuck? Hats should’nt be worn 24/7 it’s just fucking cloths not like it’s going to keep you from dieing by wereing it what the fuck you know you need to get to being respectful people died for you’re fucking freedom you jack ass “this is bs kids should be able to where hats in school.” Bullshit? Ha very fucking funny ya tell me when you meet a gangster were a hat that didn’t kill you then you’ll get to were a hat it’s not bullshit you’re right it’s fucking stupid as shit that teachers tell us to take off a hat instead of “Good morning.” when we can’t be respectful to them they will die off and when they do were fucked unless this shit escuse for a generation grows a pair and decides to take action and stand up and really bad fucking hair day don’t embarrass you’re self people who laugh at you are going to burn in hell and die sooner then you because those people DO NOT LIVE LIFE LIKE NO ONE ELSE suggest watching Dave Ramsey if you want to hear the full word but listen ignor them thier ass holes who are going to live on the streets unless they change.

          Reply
      3. an nguyen
        an nguyen
        | |

        well i find your way of thinking dilapidated because as you say quote on quote “common courtesy” , really common courtesy did you know it was also “common courtesy” for women not to vote,keeping slaves,and the midevil way of ruling in saying so does that mean we as a human race should stick to the old ways and not move on into a new age of enlightenment,but instead keeping the way of the old.I understand that we need to learn from our history and remember there values, but something should be change for the better.In additional to that my teacher Mr.Thomas let kids chew gums in his class and never have you ever once see or find a piece of gum under his desk, from what im guessing you are a unlikable teacher so kids do it to spite you.I do agreed with you on how kids can hide drugs under there hats,but i strongly i agreed with johnny because you can conceal drugs any where does that mean we have to be naked.

        Reply
      4. Terry
        Terry
        | |

        He never said anything about gum

        Reply
      5. NUN Yo damn Business
        NUN Yo damn Business
        | |

        When are people like you going to die off. You do understand that it gives people anxiety and stress and even makes some people insecure, some people wear hats because they have hair problems and they can’t do shit about it. So because you want people to respect you your making that kid have anxiety witch leads to not wanting to come to school. So next time you tell a kid to take off his hat in class I want you to think about what you might be doing to that kid because it may be more then just wearing a hat.

        Reply
      6. Vaughn B
        Vaughn B
        | |

        Please elaborate on why wearing a hat is disrespectful….in what way does it offend you?

        Reply
      7. Raven R.
        Raven R.
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        Wow. Aren’t you rude.
        Don’t tell me you aren’t, FrΓ€u.

        Reply
      8. Noah
        Noah
        | |

        Honestly, I agree with the point that a hat is, quite literally, just an article of clothing. Somewhere along the way, humans tied some sort of mystical respect property to the removal of a hat inside buildings. Some suggest that it’s showing you accept the building owner’s invitation to protect your head from the outside environment with their structure, others say it was first brought up by Catholic bishops, and their orders to remove your hats inside Churches to show your face, acknowledging your shortfalls in the midst of God. However it came about, it is still only an article of clothing. The only relevance you can receive from its origin is that, if your religion lines up, (in Muslim communities, wearing a hat is a sign of respect for God) its disrespectful in Church to wear hats. But if schools are secular, in a way, isn’t claiming hats as disrespectful pushing a religious belief on us?

        Equally as respectfully,

        Reply
    2. Lia
      Lia
      | |

      I was yelled at in school for wearing a hat. My principal told me that it violated the dress code. The only dress code I could find stated that we couldn’t wear clothes that revealed underwear, no spaghetti straps, and no clothing that promotes drug or alcohol usage. I emailed him saying that hats weren’t against the dress code. He then told me to check the inappropriate wear thing. I was pissed, and my mom yelled at me because she said that I agreed to these rules. The fudge? I never agreed to a single one of those rules.

      Reply
  2. Brandon Grasley
    Brandon Grasley
    | |

    I’m with you on this one. The hats aren’t really a problem on their own; the rule is the problematic part. I have been in schools which permit hats and don’t permit hats; there is no difference in student behaviour (except a little less stress, perhaps). There is, admittedly, less hair showing, but I was never one to be too concerned about that.

    I think there are two major problems with “The Hat Rule”.

    First, as you found, it’s difficult to explain *why* the rule exists in a convincing way, which makes it uncomfortable to enforce.

    Second, hats (particularly caps) are a sort of flag or identifying mark for many students – they take pride in their hats. The Hat Rule is a message to our youth that we don’t respect their identities and we don’t permit their expression of it. That sets the wrong tone in our schools, one in which we don’t value student voice.

    I vote for abolishing The Hat Rule, if there is ever a vote on the matter. Next provincial election? πŸ˜€

    Reply
    1. Haylee Swearengin
      Haylee Swearengin
      | |

      I agree with this whole heartedlyπŸ‘Œ we should be able to express ourselves in our own way with out being forced to remove our hat’s. It’s a symbol of who we are. We can take our hat’s off and put them back on after the pledge. Sometimes we just have a bad hair day and want to wear a hat. I see no reason to not be able to wear our hat’s, our hat’s didn’t do nothin to them!

      Reply
  3. Brandon Grasley
    Brandon Grasley
    | |

    Today it was students eating on the second floor. I don’t really understand the rule, although it could be a result of historical problems with persistent messes. I’m too new to know, so I just enforce the rules without understanding the rationale.
    The student today who was most concerned about having to go downstairs to eat knew that talking to the principal about her thoughts on the matter was the best way to promote change. I hope she actually did that. We need students to respectfully question the status quo, in the spirit of improvement and fairness.

    Reply
  4. MarY Horsley
    MarY Horsley
    | |

    We have the same hat rule at elementary school where I teach. I believe kids should wait till they get to their rooms before removing their hats so they don’t lose them. The rule is archaic.

    Reply
  5. Michelle Spencer
    Michelle Spencer
    | |

    I had to click on the link when I saw the title of your blog because I have a 14 year old son who is beginning to question rules and is developing his style. He has begun to wear a hat at school, and some teachers are ok with it, and others are not. He asked me why removing a hat was. A symbol of respect, and as we discussed it, I found I was having trouble standing behind an etiquette rule that no longer seemed relevant, especially when he said he “got it” to take off his hat during the national anthem. (That part still seems relevant to me.)
    I encourage him to respectfully challenge rules that don’t seem to make sense,mask for more information, and realize that at times, we do have to follow rules that don’t make sense unless we are willing to work at changing them. It does have me wondering about my own school.
    Thanks for,the great post.

    Reply
  6. John Howitt
    John Howitt
    | |

    Hi Brian, when I was a Principal I enforced the hat rule as a quick easy way for me to tell if someone was in the school who shouldn’t be there and I always shared that rationale with students. Not a perfect system but if I looked down the hall at a sea of faces and there was a hat, it allowed me to go and welcome the guest or ask the visitor their purpose for being in the school. If it was a student, after saying good morning, I would remind them of the rule and why my “spiddy sense” was raised.

    Reply
  7. qutemommee
    qutemommee
    | |

    There are etiquette rules regarding when a man should or should not wear a hat. Part of why it is hard to enforce the rule is because hats are no longer a required part of a man’s outfit for the day. However, kids should know that males take their hats off in churches, restaurants, during the pledge/anthem. I have used this as an opportunity for my students to do research in real time. With a little thought, there are many ways to get creative with this assignment and have a discussion on social norms. It could be extended to all forms of etiquette. Teens are actually really interested in the “WHY do we “HAVE” to do __________?” question. I also agree that the hat rule is even more important today since teens will use it to identify other groups they are apart of that have nothing to do with school pride.

    Reply
  8. Yohonna
    Yohonna
    | |

    I agree that it might be less stressful to allow hats. I personally don’t care about hats on or off except when the hat is totally and insanely distracting (OK, I am easily distracted, I admit) such as one student who came in with an enormous sponge-bob on his head or another with a leprechaun hat which blocked my view of several students behind him. This sort of thing is problematic because kids, being kids, will argue about anything. They want to know why they can’t wear the distracting hat (and I am sorely tempted to explain it rather than the subject at hand). It should be enough that I asked them to but even taking it off does not completely remove the distraction. What is it about hats, anyway?

    However, I might also use this as an opportunity to teach students about the importance of contextual behaviour expectations such as removing the shoes at the threshold of Canadian homes and Buddhist temples. It is not about the shoes (although who knows what you stepped in and are about to spread all over the lovely rugs) but about demonstrating respect to the customs and culture of the members of the building. Of course, it is not going to hold up if the members of the building change their make-up. I have been to the occasional Canadian house party in which people kept their shoes on but most of the time, they are removed as a sign of respect.

    Likewise, if the school culture is that hat removal is respectful, then the hats must come off and it is the duty of any teacher to pleasantly remind as needed. It is not stressful if the student is made to feel they are a respected member of the school community, just as a Canadian house host or guest will politely request shoe removal of anyone who has forgotten without shaming them but making them feel invited to join. “Welcome to my place. Take off your shoes and stay a while, eh?”

    Finally, I wonder if there might be higher incidences of lice in schools where students favour head coverings.

    Reply
  9. Kim Miller
    Kim Miller
    | |

    I enforce all the school rules just to be a team player. I don’t personally care about hats, but I do care about hoodies because students hide their earbuds with the hood during class when they should be listening to me. I’ve had distressing moments when I thought, with my brilliant sagacity and wit, I’d finally engaged my recalcitrant boys who are nodding their heads in apparent agreement with my brief lecture – only to discover they were completely zoned out to the lesson but keeping time to the beat of the music! πŸ™‚

    Reply
    1. Jessica
      Jessica
      | |

      Kim Miller, maybe try to take time to google ways to make your particular lessons more entertaining. I teach high school geometry, which is really difficult to make entertaining. Sometimes it’s interesting facts that relate to my lesson, or a geometry related game, or geometry word problems that relate to things my students may like, other times it’s a silly song to help them remember a formula. They think the song sounds goofy, but having them sing it, helps them to remember the song, and makes them laugh and enjoy class more. I don’t have trouble with earbuds, except of the first days of school. My classes do better than any other teacher’s geometry classes at my school, and I personally believe students enjoy my class more than most of the other classes, even though it’s un unpopular subject. πŸ™‚

      Reply
  10. Nancy Brown
    Nancy Brown
    | |

    I agree, that safety, respect and following the rules are significant. I always say, “Good Morning”, with a smile, and signal with a tap of my hand to my head, as a non-verbal reminder about the hat. I gently explain to the girls, that it’s only fair for them to remove their hats too. Note: when religion or cultural headwear appears, it is usually for a day, and a brief classroom discussion is invited to discuss the significance of the head gear. There are times where removing headwear would be embarassing, thus I provide pass to gain a bathroom mirror, and rarely is it necessary to allow them to wear it. I sometimes follow-up, after giving students time to respond 1 on 1, and any insubordination is handled after the fact, to avoid further disruption, etc. There are times when it is cold, thus I allow a period of adjustment. Students model what they see in tv, etc so the hat is often to this generation part of their expression, vs a necessity to keep dry, warm, the sun out of your eyes, etc. One has to be aware of colors, and patterns of gang affiliation as well.

    Reply
  11. NateTheGreatAin'tNoSkate!
    NateTheGreatAin'tNoSkate!
    | |

    I personally don’t like the “hat rule”, because I’m what you can call a “hat man”! Nonetheless, I’m agreeable to observing a custom that doesn’t hurt anybody, or the conscience. Doing so helps me not to be so self-absorbed. It helps me to consider the thoughts and feelings of others. Still, no one should press the issue as a hardfast rule in view of so many differing opinions. And it’s reminder should only be invoked using tact; squash any tendency to sigh and argue over the point. Schools should have the right, however, to enforce whatever rules that they deem appropriate. Our jobs usually do. And most people will adapt to the needed changes for a pay check.

    Reply
  12. Jessica
    Jessica
    | |

    I personally would leave it up to the kids whether they would like to wear hats or not. I think it is great that they question something they do not understand, even if it’s a rule. For many students, it is a way of expressing themselves, and taking that right a way, because we want to follow tradition, and half a century ago, it was considered disrespectful, seems wrong. Rules should be used to protect, not to limit. If our only reason for a rule is tradition, then it’s probably time to abolish the rule. If the principal of a school demands that the staff inforce something like the hat rule, I suggest that the staff tell students that they can talk to the principal about the rule, and not because they are in trouble, but because their opinions should matter, and they should feel heard. Other places hats are removed its usually a place someone chooses to go, such as a church or a restaurant. For many students going to school isn’t a choice, but something they must do. Adding pointless rules into the mix, would probably make students who don’t want to be at school, have more negative feelings towarss school. The schools I went to growing up enforced the hat rules, and anytime I questioned a rule, I would be given detention, or told that’s the way it is, and i should deal with it. I looked it up when I was probably in fifth or sixth grade, and told my principal that the hat wearing rule didn’t apply to women’s fashion accessories, and if they wanted to enforce an old pointless rule, he should do it historically correctly. Our jobs may tell us what we can and cannot wear, but we choose where we work, and we get paid to do it. Students don’t get paid to go to school. I try to be understanding to my students, and inspite them to learn, instead of trying to break their spirits. Considering other people’s thoughts and feeling should include the students’ of your school. They should be able to vote on the issue, if you are worried about the thoughts and feeling of other’s. Most kids are against the hat rule, or don’t care. You will probably find less than 10% of students that will be pro banning hats.

    Reply
  13. Yohonna Hodgins
    Yohonna Hodgins
    | |

    Conformity: we teach students to conform by making them remove hats, etc. We commence the pressure to conform so that we can get them used to having to conform and be obedient. This practise is also a method for identifying nonconformists so that they can be trained. Being a nonconformist in our schools is very difficult. Is that because people fear nonconformist traits indicate psychopathy? Training a nonconformist to conform will not prevent them from being a psychopath but training a psychopath to conform will help them blend in better.

    There are other ways to identify nonconformists and other ways to train obedience. By the time they are adolescent and the brain is rewiring itself, a sign of questioning authority is a good thing. At that age, the students should be encouraged to discuss and think about the purpose of the hat rule and decide for themselves as a class.

    Reply
  14. John doe
    John doe
    | |

    The hat rule is ridiculous to say the least. The principal at my worksite is always telling students to remove hats when inside of the classroom. They put their hats back on when he isn’t in site. Instead of greeting students, first thing he tells them is to remove their hats. Needless to say, students dislike him very much. He doesn’t connect with the student body. He also gives me bad looks, as I wear baseball caps in class. But he sucks it up, as my classes are constantly the best scoring, and brightest kids. Am I more knowledgeable than other teachers? I doubt it. I just don’t walk around with an 8ft pole up my ass getting a power trip about hats. I connect with students. Educators tend build an “us (educator) versus them (students)” attitude. Leads to students not connecting. Connect with students, and they will learn. We need to worry about connecting, teaching, and making these young adults into functioning members of society….not about a baseball hat or attire that does no harm. This isn’t the 1950’s.

    Reply
  15. Crystal Timmings
    Crystal Timmings
    | |

    I am fairly certain taking off your hat dates back to medieval times. Knights would remove their helmets while in court as a sign of trust and respect for their lord/king. In church they removed it as it was their sanctuary and they believed they didn’t need it under Gods protection. The custom has stuck and just like in those days it seems to be a respect thing, with people viewing a hat worn indoors as a sign of disrespect.

    Reply
  16. Althea Fackrell
    Althea Fackrell
    | |

    I was just out looking up why the archaic rule for hat removal was still enforced.I found this blog. Quite interesting that most people see it as I do. I would like to add my two cents. I am a product of the 29th C. I like to think I am progressive. I am a great grandmother. I served in the armed forces. I have lived through the Civil Rights Movement of the 60 and the Vietnam War protests. I am now living through the 21st C Civil Rights Movement and the modern war protests. In my mind there are more important things to teach children than when to wear a hat. If the hat rule is in place for safety reasons tell the children. Make sure every infraction is used to remind the student that the rule is in place for safety. As for all that respect business I can’t buy into it. So a building, a flag, another person is more important than self identification? I agree with the person who says it is a way to force conformity. Everyone who doesn’t have a religious or political reason stands for the National Anthem or the passing of the flag. If the student is standing quiet and reflective, what does it matter if the hat is removed? It is similar to false piousness to force conformity. Nothing good comes from it.We all grieve but not everyone grieve in the same way. The same should go for respect. We should teach the definition of respect but we shouldn’t force the act. Rules should have a real purpose.

    Reply
    1. Althea Fackrell
      Althea Fackrell
      | |

      That should read 20th C.

      Reply
  17. Savannah
    Savannah
    | |

    One reason that my school gave for not wearing hats is that is blocks other people’s view when you’re sitting in class. In that case, make the tall people sit in the back and the short people sit in the front. It’s not fun when you’re only 4’11” and they sit a 5’7″ person in front of you. “What are they supposed to do, take everyone’s height measurements?” Not exactly. More like “Hey, you look kinda tall, I’m going to sit you towards the back so the shorter people can see.” I don’t exactly find craning my neck around people to take notes amusing. “What if they need to sit closer to see?” Then sit them to the side where the can’t block anyone’s view.
    And another thing, aren’t drugs heavy? A small thing of drugs must be much too heavy to conceal in a hat. Why would the hat stay on? And if it was a smaller hat, the drugs would just bulge and people would obviously ask questions.
    Finally, do you really think a school shooter would be dumb enough to not cover his face? Do you really believe that a school shooter or bomber would say, “Oh, we better obey the hat rule, aye” and show his or her face to a camera?
    Also, when people say students are going to mess around with the hats, you’ve really got to be joking. Mate, students, toss around phones, books, and even pencils.
    In addition, sometimes you go to a barber shop and you end up with a bad haircut. Oops. So what if it’s your own fault? Are you still supposed to walk around school and get made fun of? “Just embrace it.” Yes, let’s just pretend we’re not getting bullied, that’ll work.
    Finally, I really don’t get offended when someone with a hat on starts talking to me. I really don’t care, and I’m pretty sure the rest of society doesn’t care, either. And about it being a gang sign, anything can be a gang sign. A t-shirt, shoes, pants, sweatshirts. Anything. Are we just supposed to go to school naked, then? I really don’t understand the big deal with wearing hats indoors.

    Reply

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