The School Uniform should be an Instrument to Celebrate Differences.

Spirit Day. Stop bullying.

In many schools in America and particularly in the inner city there are school uniforms.  I do not have a problem with school uniforms.

In America there is too much of a focus on brands and status. In America there is too much of a celebration in “individual” sameness.  Instilling in children that the most important aspect of them is that which is inside of them and to be tolerant of those who think differently is a great quality to promote in children.

Uniforms are a great instrument to accomplish this goal.

The teachable moment of the uniform is not being used nearly as much as it could be used.

Often times the reason the uniforms are stated that they are needed  is to combat gangs or because students are too poor to buy proper clothes.  And for me these seem to be inappropriate reasons for school uniforms in the lower grades in elementary school.  We’re taking this great instrument that could build tolerance and turning it into an oppressive tool to hammer anything different.

It is rude and assumptive to assume a first grader is a gang member just because that first grader’s parent doesn’t speak in the same style as the educational staff or behave in the same manner as the educational staff.

On one hand we want to assume all of children are going to college, but yet on the other hand we want to assume they (or their parents) are all degenerates in need of us telling them what they should not wear.

The message we are sending to students in regards to uniforms is not clear or consistent.

The why in what you do can be  more important than what you actually do.  Some where along the line in education many of us have become so obsessed with controlling inappropriate behaviors that we have forgotten that children are human beings first.

Children are human being that are students in our schools.  Children are human beings that are a part of our many communities.

The reason for school uniforms should be stressed and the reason should be is because educators value children as individual people. When a student/parent/visitor asks why a school has a uniform we should explain that we in education  want to see children’s individuality shine and we do not want to see that individuality tainted by being sponsored by a corporation that does not care about children’s future beyond how much money they may spend at their stores as teenagers or adults.  It will be a longer answer, but short answers and acronyms do not build character.

The reason for uniforms in many  schools seems to have been watered down to the simple easy reason of controlling behavior and that to me is an inappropriate reason and response.  It is also a shallow reason with no critical thought.

When your reasons for policies come from a place of control and not from a place of respect and tolerance for differences you build a jail culture instead of a learning culture.

There is much talk about the character of students. There is much concern about how students treat those who are different, but how are we in education making that situation better when we don’t stress tolerance and diversity in the reasons we have policies in our schools?

The reason for every policy in our schools should be from a place of building up character for each individual student. Our policies should build a foundation of reflection, tolerance, and critical thinking of the world in which our students live. We only have 180 days of schools on average in the US and not  one minute of the school day should be wasted on any policy end goal that will not help a student make appropriate intrinsic decisions for themselves that stress the value of respecting other people and the communities in which we all live.

~Mrs F

In memory of Lawrence King with the hope that his tragic murder will open up the eyes of our schools and our communities in seeing the value of teaching tolerance in a real way with substance.

Lawrence King, victim of a lack of tolerance and hate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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