Models Monday: First Day of First Grade

Most Georgia schools have started today. My son started first grade. His teacher seems like a warm person. My son looked like he was alright when I left; no crying or clinging. The worst thing that happened today actually began when he first enrolled and I saw the required uniform. Here he is in just the summer version:

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Lord help this uniform…and it gets worse. The summer version comes in two designs: the one you see and one that’s predominately orange, a warm-up jacket; and a varsity jacket. The winter version is dreadful: one pair of orange and burgundy Addidas; orange and burgundy socks; khaki trousers, long sleeve shirts in the same orange and burgundy version as the short sleeve version; and one entirely black sweatsuit.

Now, the only way this uniform makes sense is if his school were located in the People’s Republic of China and he had been identified as a future Olympian; otherwise, why would you dress “scholars” as athletes? I have never in my life seen a school uniform that didn’t include an oxford shirt and polo option, a tie, a sweater, a blazer, and dress shoes. I don’t understand how this uniform teaches students anything about appropriate attire with respect to the occasion. In this case, the students are only always ready for a workout.

When I was in elementary school, we were required to have our shirts tucked in at all times, blue and white socks only, boys were required to wear ties, and we all were required to cover our white or blue blouses and shirts with a vest or sweater. In high school we wore saddle shoes (until a later change to brown or black shoes), blue, green, or white socks, a vest, a sweater, and a blazer. You could never be in compliance with the uniform code if your shirt wasn’t covered with a vest, sweater, or blazer and all formal assemblies required blazers. Although my son likes his mini-Virginia Tech style workout gear, I think he would’ve also liked something more traditional.

Hopefully, we’ll be selling our house and buying a new one in the next few years so that he can attend a school where students aren’t driven towards athletics and guided towards other intellectual and professional possibilities. Anyway, I hope his day goes better than the look of that uniform…I’ll let you know.

5 thoughts on “Models Monday: First Day of First Grade

  1. I really agree with your comments. I work at a middle school where the students have a study hall period, but the school wants to change the name from “Study Hall” to “Scholar Hall”. I’m happy the students have a period to just sit quietly and read or do work. But, the point is for them to STUDY so they can become scholars. Why are they acting like it doesn’t take time to become scholarly? Why are they rushing these children when they have so much more to learn?

    1. See…this notion that one can simply be deemed accomplished is problematic. If it’s true that these children are scholars, where is their scholarship?

      Indeed, learning to be quiet, learning to become comfortable with quiet, and learning what to do in quiet is a good thing. I also like this cultivation in children of an expectation for quiet–in this noisy culture, that’s an insightful, thoughtful move to dedicate space and time for reflection; unfortunately, it’s being done under false pretenses.

      My son’s new school has a very small library, but I’m very happy that it’s at least called that. I’m troubled that so many school systems have deemed libraries media centers. A friend recently discussed with me the introductory chapter of Deborah Willis’s edited collection, PICTURING US, where she makes mention of her mother’s instruction for she and her sister to visit the library on Fridays. Though it wasn’t a formal request for me, there was almost a taken for granted understanding that the library was essential to my life as a student, my maturation, and to my overall life; of course this ideology was also a natural part of school. Thus, it troubles me that the instruction to “go to the library” has turned into “go to the media center.” Such an instruction without a critique seems problematic to me. If children aren’t taught media literacy, what are the expectations for evidence of their work? Assimilation?

      Thanks for writing,

    1. I agree that he is learning the fundamental and most rudimentary skills of scholarship, but I like “student” for someone at his age and skill level for reading, writing, and arithmetic. For me, being a scholar means that you have mastered these fundamentals, significantly advanced your comprehension of matters both minute and complex, you can train others, and produce illuminating work. Now, I think that my kid is a pretty sharp little dude, but he has in no way met these expectations. Either way, he’s not bothered one way or the other, he just calls himself a kid đŸ™‚ EMM

  2. He is scholar. I like to speak words of encouragement. He is a student on his way to becoming a brilliant scholar. I love that you love knowledge. You will be planting the seeds.

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