Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: Not Uniform

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  • Lilith __,

    I remember having figure-hugging flannel shorts at intermediate that we had to wear under our skirts if we wanted to to handstands at break-time. Fari enough, I guess. But we wore these same shorts without skirts on the street when we marched out to sports practice/games. We might as well have been in our undies.

    Uniform: a logic-free zone.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3894 posts Report Reply

  • Rosemary McDonald, in reply to Lilith __,

    Uniform: a logic-free zone.

    The ban against wearing shorts under the netball tunics. Never got it. Many of the girls would be playing with one hand holding down the edge of their tunics. There was a minor revolt, with many of the girls wearing black knit shorts or boylegs under their skirts. Officials got stroppy.

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1346 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Rosemary McDonald,

    There was a minor revolt, with many of the girls wearing black knit shorts or boylegs under their skirts.

    Boys and men playing netball wear trackies. I've never understood why women don't also.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3894 posts Report Reply

  • Rosemary McDonald, in reply to Lilith __,

    A long, long time ago Milo, who were sponsoring the NZ women's netball wanted to have the Milo logo emblazoned on the seat of the ladies knickers....went down like a cup of cold sick...

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1346 posts Report Reply

  • Isabel Hitchings, in reply to Lilith __,

    We called those shorts "fanny crushers".

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2007 • 719 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Isabel Hitchings,

    We called those shorts “fanny crushers”.

    :-D

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3894 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams,

    This is not so much “but a ‘boy’ might wear a skirt!” as “We may teach your nine year old to smash the patriarchy, okay?”

    Roflnui.

    There’s only one place where I have a serious problem with this whole thing: it’s not compulsory. The schools who will do this will be the schools who would do it anyway.

    Why is it not compulsory? Not compulsory to provide a safe space for kids regardless of sexual identity or not compulsory to reflect the recommendations in the sexuality curriculum?

    Don’t see why kids need uniforms. Most European countries, they don’t. We didn’t in my sixth form, and the world didn’t fall in because a few kids went to school fully goffed, punked or metalled up.

    It’s all about indoctrinating kids into subordination for the sake of it.

    I thought that for years, particularly when I was at school. I don't now. I think a uniform is one of the easiest and least disruptive ways to avoid kids feeling shitty 'cause they can't all have the flashest clothes all the time. I entirely agree with Emma's comment that practical, gender-neutral uniforms, priced to be accessible to all families ought to be every school's practice.

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2273 posts Report Reply

  • NBH, in reply to Paul Williams,

    I think a uniform is one of the easiest and least disruptive ways to avoid kids feeling shitty 'cause they can't all have the flashest clothes all the time.

    And as someone who went to a no-uniform school (Wellington High, mid-90s), I can tell you that's the exact opposite of my experience. Granted, it may have had something to do with High's very Liberal culture, but there was absolutely no hassling on the basis of clothes, and certainly none on the basis of expense. It was the kids from Wellington College, Wellington Girls', Queen Margaret's etc. who were absolutely obsessive about what they wore and vicious to their fellow students that didn't measure up.

    Besides, the number of stories I've heard subsequently from friends about the 'cool' and 'uncool' ways to wear their old uniforms are legion. Being a teenager is remarkably like living in the Court of Louis XIV with the number of invisible social rules governing your behaviour.

    Wellington • Since Oct 2008 • 97 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Andrew, in reply to NBH,

    I think a uniform is one of the easiest and least disruptive ways to avoid kids feeling shitty ’cause they can’t all have the flashest clothes all the time.

    And as someone who went to a no-uniform school (Wellington High, mid-90s), I can tell you that’s the exact opposite of my experience. Granted, it may have had something to do with High’s very Liberal culture, but there was absolutely no hassling on the basis of clothes, and certainly none on the basis of expense.

    I second this - I went to a non-uniform school in the late 80s, and you can't compare the behavior on a mufti day with the behavior of kids for whom it is completely normal to wear whatever they feel like (within some fairly liberal boundaries). I tell my kids that I liked my school uniform so much I wear it to this very day, as I point to my jeans and t-shirt.
    My boys are at a uniform school now, and I can honestly say that the $600+ each that we paid for their uniforms would have covered an awful lot of jeans and shorts and t-shirts and hoodies.
    I am still waiting to see any kind of evidence that uniforms cause kids to learn better than wearing something comfortable.
    I was on the Board Of Trustees of my kids primary school, and there was a sizeable minority of parents who were pushing for a uniform there. We held a referendum, and with <40% in favour of uniforms, we stayed non-uniform. About 5 minutes after the next BOT elections, the new board held another referendum, with a <50% vote in favour. In response, the board implemented a voluntary uniform. So over the past 5 years, there's been, on average, 2-3 kids in each classroom wearing the uniform. The BOT has therefore not felt the need to make it compulsory.

    Hamiltron - City of the F… • Since Nov 2006 • 900 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams, in reply to NBH,

    And as someone who went to a no-uniform school (Wellington High, mid-90s), I can tell you that’s the exact opposite of my experience. Granted, it may have had something to do with High’s very Liberal culture, but there was absolutely no hassling on the basis of clothes, and certainly none on the basis of expense.

    I won't argue that the reverse is not possible. I guess my experience, in South Auckland in the '70s and '80s, partly defines my perspective.

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2273 posts Report Reply

  • icehawk, in reply to NBH,

    And as someone who went to a no-uniform school (Wellington High, mid-90s), I can tell you that’s the exact opposite of my experience.

    That matches my daughter's current experience at Wgtn High, where she started this year.

    One of the kids on her school sports team identified as male last year, but this year I don't know which gender they identify as. They're quite ambiguous. But my daughter and her friends at just don't seem to think that a big deal "Not important like what they're like or how nice they are", I'm told.

    The youth of today. They give me hope, they do.

    Wellington • Since Sep 2008 • 49 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to ,

    it demonstrates one of our school values

    "petty-minded authoritarianism". Punishing kids for breaking stupid rules teaches them to NOT respect their school.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    Do we want to teach students conformity above all, or encourage creativity? Uniforms are all about forcing students in all their diversity into one peg hole. About adults saying do what I say but not what I do. About kids being shamed because they cannot afford the new expensive uniform and shoes and all the extras rather than the shiny hand me downs. I'm afraid I dislike uniforms and all they signify.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3226 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Paul Williams,

    I think a uniform is one of the easiest and least disruptive ways to avoid kids feeling shitty 'cause they can't all have the flashest clothes all the time.

    I remember the rich kids still found ways to mark themselves out (optional blazer rather than jersey, allowed earrings being solid gold, etc).

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Emma Hart,

    petty-minded authoritarianism

    yep. and parents supported the board of trustees on that.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • chris, in reply to James Littlewood*,

    Those stats on trans kids are enlightening. I’d have thought uniformity (neutral or otherwise) was a poor way to allow someone to explore and identify their identity. But then, I’m not trans. Anyone?

    I didn't look at the stats, but if you're looking around the classroom and you're dressed the same as those of the gender you most identify with that's positive reinforcement.

    Mawkland • Since Jan 2010 • 1302 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to ,

    ...some of us where a little sketchy.

    ...it can be a long, drawn out process, life.
    ;- )

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7950 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to ,

    Get Smart, redux...

    the big picture. (Obama & trainer)

    Classic - funk sole brother!

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7950 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Telfar Barnard, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    About kids being shamed because they cannot afford the new expensive uniform and shoes and all the extras rather than the shiny hand me downs.

    Er. As I recall, having a new uniform and/or new shoes was not desireable. It made you look like a third former. And if you were lucky enough to find a previous, no-longer-available-for-sale-only-available-second-hand-or-hand-me-down and, according to the rules of fashion and uniforms*, much cooler, uniform, you were considered extremely lucky indeed.

    *One of the rules of uniform fashion is that a school must change its uniform design to a shape just out of fashion, just as the outgoing design shows signs of coming back into fashion.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 585 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace, in reply to Lucy Telfar Barnard,

    My experience as a mother of a new third former is that you had to have everything new, and all the extras, to be cool. Which meant numerous items to allow for washing, all weathers etc. It was so expensive. Although after a few years it no longer mattered. Whereas at the non uniform school my son attended you could wear more of less anything, and the students did, from a three piece suit, to a kilt or dress (including boys), assorted hair styles, colours and jewellery. Creative for them and made them feel much happier about school in my observation.

    In my son's case good for someone with sensory issues to be able to wear what he found comfortable. Of course most kids wore the uniform of t-shirts and jeans, and those from Hallensteins and the Warehouse were fine. Abusive slogans were about the only thing challenged, and then it generally became a discussion with the principal. Wearing their own choice of clothes is also generally less smelly as uniforms, particularly heavy wool ones, are difficult to clean regularly.

    I was part of the cohort a few years ago who fought to get rid of the uniform and in those days it was the thing to do to have the scruffiest, holiest, worn or distorted uniform to make a point that it did no credit to the school.

    So in my experience, uniforms are an extra expense to families, not a saving.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3226 posts Report Reply

  • chris, in reply to ,

    there was all sorts of sexuality and gender identifications going on. Boys looked like girls, girls looked like boys and there where kid that looked like clowns.

    Which is fine when kids have confidence, parental support and aren’t living in provincial towns still stuck in the 1950s.

    Mawkland • Since Jan 2010 • 1302 posts Report Reply

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