I went to an English girls private school.
Just the sort you’d expect me to go to, in fact.
Rather like Hogwart’s without the magic.
We stood up when teacher came into the room, sat down after she did. At the end of class, we left the room when she told us we could.
We didn’t mess about.
There were no freshman, juniors, seniors or sophomores.
In fact, I had to look up those terms in the dictionary.
There were, however, upper and lower sixth forms.
Once you reached those seniority heights, it felt awesome.
Because this was England, we had a school uniform.
It was blue and white.
We had regulation shoes called ‘pork pies’ because the top of them resembled that Great British unhealth food, the pork pie. A blue tie that I did up every single day.
A leather satchel.
I remember a time when we were called to walk across the stage but not to take a bow. The teachers walked the floor with their rulers as they measured the height of our heels and the length of our skirts.
Any rule flouters had to fix the problem toot suite.
We were representing the school and rules have to be followed.
A rebel was not to be tolerated.
But we found ways to bypass the code.
I wore thick thigh-high navy socks that might well have been stockings. I kept them up with elastic bands. The threat of varicose veins never bothered me.
And I’m glad to report the fear was unfounded.
There was a straw boater tilted at just the right angle of cool. Ties were short and fat. Then long and skinny.
Trends in school bags came and went.
Yes, we found the point where freedom of expression bisected school uniform policy.
A lesson not taught in math.
Recently I went back to my high school with a friend for the first time in nearly thirty years. Our first stop was the picture gallery where photos of the school population were hung every year.
We went straight to 1982, the year of our leaving and found ourselves and our friends. We found them again in 1984, 86, and 87.
But how could that be?
We had left.
Then we realized that hundreds of girls in school uniform all look the same.
I have mixed feelings about the lack of school uniform we have here in the US.
I understand the arguments against uniform that are made about cost and conformity. I can also see the arguments for uniforms promoting a sense of school identity and avoiding the problem of designer clothing and status symbols.
It’s an emotive subject on which I don’t have a clear position. So true to my upbringing,
I do as I’m told and follow the lead of those around me.
But when I see children walking to school in their uniform, I feel pangs of nostalgia. I remember the thrill of getting new, extra-long navy socks. The feeling that I was rebelling in my own little way.
Standing up for my rights, my identity.
Varicose veins and elastic bands notwithstanding.
What is your position on school uniforms? Would you like to see them in your school? Or do you think they are stifling to the young identity? Let me know in the comments!
I am participating in a Blog Every Day For 30 Days Challenge advocated by Chris Brogan. I am doing this with the lovely Mary Ulrich who writes for Parents and Caregivers of Adults with Disabilities at Climbing Every Mountain. Check her out!