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“Pants on the Ground”- OR – Order in the Classroom

January 31, 2010 2 comments

I know I said I would write about infant brain development in this post but that will have to be the next post because I had a conversation in the gym with a member of our Power class that stunned my common sense thinking. She is retired from the US Treasury and is taking a class at the local community college. She described her disaffection with it while we were talking, but what caught my attention was her syllabus of rules handed out by the retired military officer, now teaching a class in Business and Entrepreneurship.

It read:
•    No hats or hoods worn in class
•    No feet on furniture
•    No clothing that has gratuitous violence, graphic sexual images, obvious religious or political images or wording worn in class.
•    No pajamas, bath robes, swim suits or other clothes normally associated with sleeping, bathing, or swimming worn in class.

Would any of you reading this post have shown up to your school classes in a bathrobe or bathing suit? It got me to thinking, who parented these students who wear “clothing of gratuitous violence, graphic sexual images”? What do they see when their children walk out the door? How did we get here from there?

Which brings me to the subject of school uniforms: This is a simple idea that is more cost effective than spending money on the latest clothing fads, which are apparently disruptive and the cause of teacher rules in order to conduct class. My sons attended a school that had uniforms as their dress code. Everyone looked the same; no one felt richer or poorer; no one was discriminated against for not having the latest fashion or shoes. It worked. There was order in the classes and serious teaching going on all day. Many Catholic schools have uniform codes. These schools are noted for the quality of their rigorous curriculum. It appears that uniforms positively influence teaching and classroom order.

We have a crisis in American education. Is it not reasonable to eliminate the distractions of “clothing” in order to bring order? We are graduating students who cannot read, who cannot write a coherent paragraph, or who cannot do simple mathematical skills. We have a serious dropout rate across the country. Is this not a grave concern? We have childhood obesity that is fatally impacting this next generation and our health care system. Those who do graduate cannot compete with the clamoring Asian and Indian markets. We are falling behind in every aspect of future challenges facing American education.

Why does clothing take precedence over order and learning in our educational system when the simple solution to the problem is to have a national dress code for public schools? It’s cost effective and simple. The Chinese do it.

Oh yes, I forgot, the lawyers would sue for an individual’s right to express themselves through their outer wear. So we sacrifice order in education and quality teaching time in our classrooms. Would someone help me out here? What is going on? Where did the responsible parents go? Why did they leave their children in this superficial, barren landscape where they value “pants on the ground” above education and enlightenment?

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