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“I’m just a Catholic mother of four sons with a problem that only girls can solve: Leggings.”

In an open letter to The Observer, Catholic mum Maryann White slams leggings for being “so naked, so form-fitting, so exposing”. She urges young ladies to abandon the comfortable garment in favour of jeans so that concerned mothers won’t have “to find scarves to tie over the eyes of their sons to protect them from [girls like] you.”

In her letter to the student-run newspaper at the University of Notre-Dame Indiana, she recounts an incident in which she and her sons were at Catholic Mass and seated behind a group of young women dressed in “very snug-fitting leggings… and short-waisted tops” – saying that the leggings looked as though they had been painted on.

“They didn’t stare, and they didn’t comment afterwards. But you couldn’t help but see those blackly naked rear ends. I didn’t want to see them — but they were unavoidable.”

“My sons know better than to ogle a woman’s body — certainly when I’m around (and hopefully, also when I’m not). They didn’t stare, and they didn’t comment afterwards. But you couldn’t help but see those blackly naked rear ends. I didn’t want to see them — but they were unavoidable.”

She draws laughable parallels between leggings and the iconic “slave girl outfit” that Princess Leia is forced to wear in the sci-fi classic Star Wars, saying that the outfit was a way for Jabba the Hutt to “steal her personhood”. Ms White blames the fashion industry for promoting a product that “has caused women to voluntarily expose their nether regions,” and goes on to say that she is ashamed of the young women who choose to wear them.

Responses to the letter, which you can find here, were varied. Some supported the troubled mother, saying that young men are naturally drawn first to a woman’s body. They suggest that these poor young boys can hardly be expected to think with their heads in these cases and that young ladies should cover up.

Others were less enthused by the conservative views touted in what was a declaration of war not only on leggings, but more significantly on a girl’s right to wear whatever she wants.

Students responded with ‘The Legging Protest’ – a day dedicated to wearing and celebrating leggings and the freedom to wear them without a lecture from concerned Catholic mothers.

Just days later, students responded with ‘The Legging Protest’ – a day dedicated to wearing and celebrating leggings and the freedom to wear them without a lecture from concerned Catholic mothers. The event page on Facebook includes a response to Maryann’s letter. They say:

“Leggings are not slave girl outfits and women do not wear them so they can be catcalled or stared at. And no one is forcing us to wear them, but we have the right to wear them, the right to choose what we put on our bodies… The belief that viewing a woman’s bottom is inescapable is the reason that men in our society believe that they have the power and the right to mistreat women.”

How do you choose the best school for your child? We look at the options so you can make an informed choice.

 

Choosing a school for your child is a big decision. After all, your child will be spending a large amount of their time there, so you want to ensure you choose an environment where your child will not only be happy but will be supported to reach their full potential.

Government/public education
Choosing public education is a very popular option in Australia and for good reason – the schools offer a high standard of education, and chances are, your local public school might be as close as across the road or just down the street.

If you choose a Government education, chances are you will not get to choose which Government school your child attends, as most Government schools have a set ‘enrolment zone’ so your eligibility will be determined by which zone your address falls into. Check with your local school about their enrolment requirements.

There are also independent public schools, which are Government schools that have increased autonomy to make decisions at a local level.

Independent schools
There is a wide range of schools within the Independent school sector, which includes Christian, non-denominational Christian, Jewish, Steiner, Montessori, Islamic and Community schools.

According to the Independent Schools Council of Australia, independent schools have a reputation as providers of quality education.

The schools are not-for-profit entities and have their own boards or management committees. Many independent schools are religious-affiliated. School fees vary within the Independent school sector.

According to the Independent Schools Council of Australia, independent schools have a reputation as providers of quality education.

Catholic Education
Ray Collins, acting executive director of the National Catholic Education Commission, says Catholic schools are faith-based schools that offer parents the choice to send their children to a school that aligns with their values and beliefs. He adds Catholic schools offer the same curriculum as Government schools, plus a wide selection of electives, sporting and creative arts programs.

“An important difference is that Catholic schools provide their curriculum through a Catholic perspective and also provide the opportunity for students to learn more about the Catholic faith through Religious Education, and to experience their faith through regular prayer, special liturgies and the celebration of the sacraments,” Mr Collins says.

“Catholic schools are known for the quality of their teaching and pastoral care programs, which means students are not only challenged in their learning but are equally supported in their social and emotional development.”

Mr Collins says the majority of Catholic schools belong to a system of schools and charge lower fees to make them as affordable and accessible to families as possible. He says Catholic schools also provide a range of scholarships and fee assistance to support families in financial hardship.

Home education
Myfanwy Dibben, committee member for the Home Education Association, says many parents decide to home school their children before their children reach compulsory school age.

“Some find they need to withdraw their child from school because the child’s educational and developmental needs are not being met in the classroom,” she adds. “Among these, special needs feature largely, both for children that are accelerated in their learning and those who struggle to learn using the methods and resources used by their teachers. Anxiety and depression, often associated with unresolved bullying at school, are increasingly being cited by parents inquiring about home education.”

Ms Dibben says in addition to the Home Education Association, there are state-based associations, as well as hundreds of online home education support groups to help parents find resources and information to help their children learn at home.

Ms Dibben says in addition to the Home Education Association, there are state-based associations, as well as hundreds of online home education support groups to help parents find resources and information to help their children learn at home.

Steiner education
Virginia Moller, CEO of Steiner Education Australia, explains that based on a holistic and integrated approach, a Steiner education aims to nurture and develop the unique qualities and capabilities of each child. “It seeks to lead students towards healthy sea-knowledge, as well as deep understanding of the world they live in, so they can be positive, creative and resilient citizens who can envision a future which they believe they can help create,” she says. “This is achieved through balancing academic, artistic and practical life experiences throughout the Steiner curriculum, which is designed to bring thinking to life through imaginative teaching.”

Ms Moller says some of the advantages of sending a child to a Steiner school include:

>High standards, but less pressure

>Integrated approach with focus on teaching through the arts

>Sense of connectedness to self, to the environment, to the past, present and future.

Montessori education
Victoria Marshall-Cerins, Chief Operating Officer of Montessori Australia Foundation says Montessori is a wider approach to human development.

Their education program, which focusses on independence, has an individualised learning approach, where children (who are in multi-age classrooms) are provided with education materials, which they explore at their own pace.

“The educator’s role is to provide the children with the materials and observe the children’s own insights and capability,” she says. “The materials given to the younger children (three to six years) enable children to learn how to do things for themselves – for example, wiping a table.”

“However, they are also learning how to follow a sequence of steps, how to concentrate on a task and to complete the task. They start with something simple and as their ability grows, more activities are introduced to fit those needs.”

Ms Marshall-Cerins  advises that parents ensure when they are considering a school or centre
they look for one that it is ‘Montessori Registered’ through the Montessori Quality Assurance Programme (MQAP).”