Yes, there are times when you should look like everyone else

4 Aug

As the opening of the new school year approaches (eww), I am doing what many teachers and parents are doing. I am shopping for new clothes for the year.

I hate shopping for clothes. I hate it. I suspect many parents do as well.

Each year I start the year watching my students. There is a giant disparity amongst them. Some of them have very expensive clothes, usually more than I can afford, and I see students with ill-fitting, ragged, and sometimes dirty clothes. The “haves” and the “have nots” are very visible at my school.

It is the most depressing thing. Typically the kids who have are more confident (though they necessarily shouldn’t be) than those who have not (again). The haves often make comments about the have nots and cliques form around clothing choices. It’s pretty shitty to watch.

I have long been a proponent of school uniforms for all of the reasons of lowering distractions, ease of morning routines, cost effectiveness, etc. Obviously, kids are largely against this, as are many parents. It’s no secret that clothing is a sign of status. Fancy clothes make people feel good and often superior to those who aren’t as well dressed. This is not okay or positive in an educational setting.

Kids and parents (usually the haves) will argue that kids express themselves and their individuality through their manner of dress.  To that I call bull because these kids are all shopping at the same stores and buying the same clothes. I can’t freaking tell you how many pairs of ugly fur boots dragging my classroom floor last year (dragging because kids don’t pick their feet up anymore). Those jeans with the jeweled butt pockets and camo Under Armour hoodies were everywhere in my building.

It’s no secret that uniforms minimizes distractions, rivalries, and even bullying. It reduces the glaring disparity between wealthy families and the less wealthy. It lessens the burden. When parents only have to buy 6-10 articles of clothing versus 15-20, it relieves a lot of financial pressure. Don’t forget that school uniforms cost only a fraction of a pair of jeans from The Buckle.

Basically, if kids want to stand out, let them do so by using their minds, not their glittery shoes.

 

 

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