I have to agree with Woody on the uniform issue. I have taught for 18
years at a parochial school which decided (against my cries of protest) to go
to uniforms last year. The uniforms are not bad--khaki or navy pants, white
or lt. blue oxford shirts, or a white polo. Walking in the first day to such
a bland atmosphere made me feel sad indeed.
While I understand all the arguments in favor of uniforms, and see the
benefits, I still abhor taking away this last opportunity for students to
show they can dress responsibly and still make a statement about who they
are. I miss all the color, and the fun outfits. Before the end of the year,
students were truly not caring about their clothes--whether they got paint on
them or tore something, or whether shirt tails were tucked or not. They were
very tired of them, and made many jokes about "It was only Elderwear."
Woody's comments about artists reminds me, though, of a positive thing
that happened in my junior class and was related to wearing uniforms. At the
beginning of the year, I hung portraits of 17 artists on my bulletin board
with a list of names. On the second class meeting students had to attempt to
match artists with names. My juniors did not think Frank Stella looked like
an artist because he was wearing a white shirt, tie, and conservative
haircut. So I gave them a week to research Frank Stella, and then we held a
Socratic dialog on the subject of whether the clothes make the person. The
students did some powerful thinking, and it was an excellent learning
experience. It was well-timed because the uniforms were so new to us then,
and this class in particular were feeling pretty deprived by them. They
begged me all year to have a project on creative ways to decorate Elderwear.