When the time comes to start a new year at school, there is usually some sort of presentation or assembly, for both the students and parents to be introduced to the new school year. They are usually fairly unexciting, and not particularly memorable. However, the audience at the Xinshahui kindergarten had a very different experience.
Hundreds of children between the ages of three and six, accompanied by their parents, visited the school in Shenzhen, in the southern province of Guangdong, in China. There they were met with various pole dancers, with some even using the courtyard pole that bore the country's flag.
Parents soon posted videos online, expressing their outrage at the event, and the principal has reportedly been dismissed for her actions. Journalist Michael Standaert was in attendance, as his child was part of the school, and he took to Twitter to share a video from another parent of the event.
You can see in the video below, one of the women involved in the performances, right in front of a confused audience:
"So before our kids got out of kindergarten for the summer, there was 10 days of military "activities" and displays of machine guns and mortars at the door," he wrote, "now the principal has welcomed them back with a strip pole dance on the flagpole bearing the PRC flag.
"She's gone nuts."
Parents apparently made complaints to the police, leading to a statement posted on Weibo by the local education bureau. They claimed that their investigation found that a pole dancing business had been invited to the kindergarten to perform that day, and confirmed that they believe performing pole dancing for kindergarten children is not appropriate.
Principal Lai told the Global Times that "a few parents" had requested refunds but that others had wanted to "learn a new type of dance". She also apologized for not properly examining the dance content before the performance. Standaert later added that when his wife called the principal, she stated pole dancing was "international and good exercise," before hanging up.
Another teacher who has recently hit the headlines because of a gross error of judgment, to say the least, is Megan Luloff, a first-grade teacher at Walcott Elementary, Iowa, who, on October 19 was photographed in blackface at a Halloween party.
Luloff and her friends had dressed as characters from the 2004 movie Napoleon Dynamite, with the elementary teacher taking on the guise - and race - of Lafawnduh, Kip Dynamite's wife. When the photo became known to authorities, an investigation was launched. Luloff's attorney has since said that she was "completely unaware" of what blackface represented.
"At no point during her preparation for the party, or her participation at the event, did Megan ever intend to mock the character's ethnicity or take any action intended to be offensive to anyone," the statement read. "At this point in time Megan had never heard the term 'Blackface' nor did she know the history of the term. If she had that knowledge she never would have participated in such a way that she deeply regrets her actions."
In addition to this statement, Luloff's attorney said that she would never mock someone's race as she knows how "sensitive feelings about appearance can be" because her son has albinism.
This what the principal of Luloff's school had to say about the costume:
"She knows how hurtful and damaging it can be when you think someone is mocking your appearance," the statement continued. "Throughout history, people affected by albinism have been humiliated, mocked, sent away from their families, worst of all beaten and thought of [as using] 'witchcraft.'"
"Unfortunately, this is a personal experience and knowledge that she did not have at the time with regard to Blackface."
We can only hope that if Luloff's statement about her ignorance is true, that no one else makes the same mistake and dons such an inappropriate costume in the future. Halloween is a time for fun - not racism and cultural appropriation.