There are several reasons to be grateful we don’t live in North America. Donald Trump and negligent gun laws unquestionably top the list, but for parents with school age children, the constant of a school uniform is the cherry on top.
When the Australian Christian Lobby cracked a stink over Newtown High School of the Performing Arts implemented a unisex uniform policy that would allow students to choose which uniform they wear a couple of months back, I though praying for world peace would be a better use of their time.
Uniforms, any uniform, are literally heaven sent for parents, who don’t have to do battle with increasingly fashion savvy kids.
Before my children were of school age, I showed an interest in sending them to a Montessori school. While the Montessori ideology was to my liking, I couldn’t fathom a school without a uniform.
The motto, “we believe that each child should be respected for who they are and encouraged to express themselves and their own unique style,” was agreeable enough. I just didn’t care to do battle for the better half of my morning while my (namely) daughter fussed over denim shorts, oversized Tee’s colourful headbands.
I had already lived that nightmare. In winter, her preschool “uniform” consisted of a satin princess summer dress worn over a pink tracksuit ensemble. It was ugly/cute, but she was four years of age, so I could live with that get-up.
While I am all for unique fashion choices and children expressing themselves through ridiculous fads, (Note: which are ever going to be as foul as what I wore in the ‘80s), school is not the place to do it.
Aside from promoting unity and equality in the school, former Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, also threw her support behind the tradition of uniform when she said: “Part of a high-quality education is learning how to present yourself to the world, and that's what a school uniform is all about.”
Let me tell you this, after living through a school mufti-day last week, I would care less if my children’s school announced the new uniform policy comprised of MC Hammer pants and that Philip Treacy hat Princess Beatrice wore to the royal wedding. If it was school policy, they would be wearing it.
My eldest son, oblivious to changing weather patterns, thought a simple T-shirt and whatever shorts would be ideal for a 10 degree day, while my daughter emptied out her entire wardrobe before appearing downstairs in a similarly climate-challenged outfit.
What ensured was a screaming match that involved lots of foot stomping, hands on hips and ended with almost everyone in tears. Several changes later, were we out of time for breakfast and now running out the door with a sugar-laden muesli bar in one hand and a gold coin charity donation in the other – all for privilege of turning my morning into a horror fest.
I was happy to hand over my cheque book if they promised to never stray from school uniform ever again.
Clothing is one way in which human beings express their individuality, but school uniform is how most parents keep their sanity.