….but today I was. Number two, in fact. Not the one I would have picked, as it happens, but there was no choice. I was not the only number two in the school. I encountered a few others. There were also number ones and fours and tens. There were numbers in the hundreds and even the thousands.
The whole school lost their identity for the day. It was returned to them at the end of the school day. For the duration of their time in school everyone was identified by a number.
The aim was to allow everyone to recognise the importance of our sense of identity. It was done to highlight Articles 7 and 8 of the UNICEF Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Article 7 (Registration, name, nationality, care): All children have the right to a legally registered name, officially recognised by the government. Children have the right to a nationality (to belong to a country). Children also have the right to know and, as far as possible, to be cared for by their parents.
Article 8 (Preservation of identity): Children have the right to an identity – an official record of who they are. Governments should respect children’s right to a name, a nationality and family ties.
When I heard this was going to happen last week I had an uncomfortable feeling. I didn’t know that I felt so strongly about my name. Yeah, I correct people when they spell it wrongly. An e at the end of Ann, if you please. And a hyphen between Anne and Marie. I know! But maybe we all feel a bit particular about our names. I’ve always liked mine. Never really wished to be called anything else.
I wasn’t really happy at the idea. And it was a very weird experience today being called, ‘Number Two’ or ‘Please Miss, Number Two’.
I hated calling the kids by a number. And I don’t even know all their names yet as this is a new school for me and I’m in and out of so many classes I might meet almost every child in the course of the week. It should have made it easier just being able to say the number that was on their badge. But it reminded me of people being branded with symbols to identify who they were. It made me think of how awful it must be for people who don’t know their true identity or who have forgotten it. Or who have had it removed. It did make me realise how important our sense of identity is to ourselves and that a name as well as nationality are vital in retaining it.
It’s not an experience I would care to repeat. But, I’m glad in a lot of ways that the children and the adults had the opportunity to see what it felt like to be nameless. A very simple right but one, if revoked, has huge implications on how we feel about ourselves and who we are.
There will be lots of discussion tomorrow.
This is well after the fact for this DP challenge. But hey ho! It just happened to link in with this post. http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/03/17/writing-challenge-names/#more-70813