I remember one day in 9th grade being called to the front of the class and being told to stand still. Seconds later another of my classmates was called up and told to follow the same instructions. This continued for a while until about 6 of us female students were standing there, confused. A male classmate of mine soon joined what now seemed to be a growing assembly line. Soon a senior mistress walked into the classroom and we immediately knew what was up. The teachers were conducting another one of their surprise “uniform crackdowns.”
No skirts above the knees; no frill socks; no weave; no socks pulled up to the knees; no shoes with heels higher than 2-inches. For the boys; haircuts must be low; no afros, no brown belts.
The seven of us stood there, on this tense assembly line, awaiting our turn. The girls with any sort of hair extensions were told to either go to the bathroom to remove them or go home for the day, based on the style; for some, socks had to be removed or restyled, for the guys, either they had to go home (or the barber) or were written up with warnings. For me and another girl on the line, we stood there as our teacher took a seam ripper from the Home EC department and meticulously removed our hems to add length to our skirts…making sure it hit the knees.
My skirts were never of disrespectful lengths, nor were those of my classmates but instead of preparing us for the real world, a lot of my teachers wasted time majoring in the minors. We were in the top stream in the school, we were focused, straight A students and just wanted to learn. Rules are rules and should be followed and adhered to but there are so many more lessons to be learned while in school!
This student (me) with the uniform skirt one inch too short went on to graduate valedictorian from high school, receiving cum laude honors in college and university and pretty much morphing into a #bossgirl.
Here are 5 things I wish my teachers did teach me in school instead of worrying about the length of my skirt!
Money/saving and investing – No one taught us about financial freedom, about saving money and spending wisely. No one set aside a period on the school schedule to have financial gurus come in to talk to us about investing and saving and the importance of buying stocks and bonds. I don’t recall any of my teachers taking us on trips to the Central Bank, or any bank in fact to drill into us the importance of the currency. Oh, but I remember that field trip to the Shirley Street Theater to watch The Sandlot, though. But the length of my skirt is a problem?
Running a home – I’m sure my teachers were aware that one day my classmates and I would one day become parents, wives and husbands. That one day we’d be the head of households and we’d have children to raise. That one day, maybe a teacher would be calling us into the office to discuss our child’s progress in school. I don’t recall any of them using our scenarios as teaching points and instilling in us the importance of family responsibility, being a part of a unit and being accountable. But how high or low I roll my socks is a problem?
Conflict resolution – I was a witness to many schoolyard fights. From rock throwing wars to full on brawls, I saw them all! I also saw the teachers in my school beat, punish, expel and suspend the students who were found culpable. What I didn’t see was them teach the students about conflict resolution and taming their tempers. I didn’t see them take the time to teach and mentor, nor encourage and motivate. But a few pieces of weave in my hair to achieve a bigger bun is a problem?
Workplace issues – I shouldn’t have had to wait until the I found myself at the center of a major workplace blowup to know what to do and how to protect myself. I didn’t think the first time I had to take a past employer to the Labour Board would’ve been all the knowledge I had about employment, my rights and what I’m entitled to. Why weren’t we teaching this in schools? Many school-aged kids are big time employees, working after school, on holiday breaks and sometimes 40-hours a week. Are they being taken advantage of, abused, or denied certain rights? Probably. Have they been taught what to and what not to do in these cases? Probably not.
Being an entrepreneur – It took me decades after primary school, years after high school and university to find my #girlboss. Outside of my parents drilling it in my head, I didn’t know earlier on in life that I could actually be my own boss and work for myself. I didn’t know what entrepreneurship was nor was I taught about it in school. While we did have business classes available to us, they were all geared towards us making someone else’s business bigger and better. But I don’t recall ever being told that I could have my own business and make that big and strong. But I surrender, I’ll cut the frill off my socks.
I must say I have had some AMAZING teachers in my time who have poured so much love and light into me. Even to this day, I have friends who are teachers and I’m sure they are doing their best to raise model students. But culturally, the education system is failing. It’s old, archaic, needs to be revamped and remodelled to enter the real word, because soon and very soon today’s students will!
Culturally, the education system is failing. It’s old, archaic, needs to be revamped