The annual obsession with School uniforms raises its ugly head.

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“Students in NSW, Victoria and the ACT are not required to study maths at all in Years 11 and 12”.

Australian schools continue to fall behind in maths and science – ABC .”

“Maths should be compulsory at school: our future jobs depend on it”
With those alarming headlines one would hope that educational information would be at the forefront of all schools that are touting for students.  Lofty statements would be made at all schools, that maths was already compulsory. (together with a language apart from English as well).
But what do we get?
Over a hundred students were send home because their shoes did not fit the regimented size thickness of sole or heel, perhaps both. The head-master was seen to take the tape out and measure students shoes. A few millimetres out, and the students was marched outside the gate. It is a surprise the head-master had the skill in measuring seeing he probably also went without the compulsory maths. I am gobsmacked.
Maths in Australian schools is not compulsory but uniforms are?
Where does all this originate from?
If education is meant to take a young person to its full potential, surely letting them dress freely ought to be the norm. Isn’t the expression of the individual not at the forefront of the unfolding of a growing person? Why do parents put up with that? It is so stifling.
And while we are at uniforms ,why do we show our love of such blatant inequality when we have high fee charging Posh private schools and Bog public schools.
All schools should be equal and no divisions. All schools have both boys and girls. All teachers have minimal Masters Degrees and be well-paid.
Here another link to a good article by Jane Caro.
No compulsory math?

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33 Responses to “The annual obsession with School uniforms raises its ugly head.”

  1. petspeopleandlife Says:

    I would not graduate in Australia if math were required. I hate and still hate math and I was a very poor student in math and algebra. I made a good grade in algebra I but did poorly in algebra II. But I made up for my deficits and excelled in history, English and biology and geography. I just did not have the brain for math but I can do simple stuff, fractions, add, multiply and subtract. In my time we did not have uniforms but girls had to wear a dress. I have a mild form of ADD which is self diagnosis. Not everyone has the same brain and one learns to compensate in other areas.

    Liked by 3 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Math wasn’t my favourite subject either and towards the end I gave up on it. I am good at figures though and all the tables that were drummed into us. I can almost still hear the drone of doing the multiplications.

      We had 4 languages at high school (compulsory). If Holland was to compete with its neighbours we had to learn their languages. This paid off and Holland punches well above its weight on a global scale.

      Uniforms are unheard of in Holland and my mother was often upset after our arrival here in Australia that more attention was given to the wearing of exact uniforms than actual teaching.

      And don’t get me going on corporal punishments. Catholic brothers assaulted her children with a cane on top of their knuckles. No wonder our prisons are bursting. Punishing is still high on the agenda. Just look how we treat the refugees on Manus and Nauru!

      You are right, Ivonne. We all have different brains and talents and good teaching acknowledges that.

      Liked by 4 people

  2. lifecameos Says:

    We are having an uproar just now about the costs of school uniforms, best available option here seems to be second hand uniforms, organised better by some schools than others. but after year 10 maths is no longer compulsory. Weird.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, I find that math not being compulsory weird.
      One reason why we have to employ so many overseas trained scientists and technicians.

      Yes, the second hand trade in uniforms is thriving. One big problem is that each school has a different uniform. Especially the expensive ‘Private’ schools make sure the uniform has the name of the prestigious school emblazoned on it.

      It is often seen as proof of financial success of the parents. Some parents deny themselves of luxuries in order to send their kids to Private schools. They feel that the local public school in not up to scratch. It is all to do with funding and old entrenched ideas. So stale in thinking and attitudes.

      It’s best not to give into despair.

      Liked by 1 person

      • lifecameos Says:

        Something done in the UK and just starting here is having a generic simply styled uniform for all schools sold in large chain stores- with the price being reduced through the large runs produced for the one type of uniform.

        Liked by 1 person

      • gerard oosterman Says:

        That might well be a good answer. Everyone wears the same uniform so that the prestigious expensive schools will not be identified anymore by the uniform.
        I wonder if the drop in snob value would be accepted by some parents?


  3. leggypeggy Says:

    Jane Caro is a voice of reason. Thanks for that link.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. shoreacres Says:

    Oddly, I’ve known many kids here who were delighted to be in schools where uniforms were required. Granted, there isn’t quite the obsessive, shoe-measuring attention to detail that the good headmaster exhibited, but still, there are advantages. One is that kids who come from less well-off families wear the same thing as wealthy kids: it actually levels the playing field when it comes to fashion. And, as one of my young friends says, “I don’t have to spend time worrying about what to wear every day.”

    Of course, as your mention of the headmaster makes clear, having rules and having someone who can enforce rules in a reasonable manner often are quite different things.

    As for educational curricula, we have many of the same problems here. I could rant and rave forever, but suffice it to say I graduated from high school with a better education than many college graduates have today, and I attended an entirely average high school in a midwestern town. If the foundation isn’t set in the early years of education, what can be built in later years will be severely limited.

    Liked by 3 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      The same argument was used in Australia that the uniforms level all kids the same, but…uniforms are frightfully expensive as each school has a different school identifying uniform. My mum would disagree with that idea of level playing field very strongly. It’s not just a matter of a school cap or hat, no it is everything from top to bottom and her siblings would be sent home for wearing the wrong socks.

      Now-a-days, the more holes the more fashionable. The poor look is now so desired that shops are outdoing each other in holed garments. It is a fact that some are better off financially than others and one would hope that acceptance of differences would be part of education.

      Of course, the Finnish education system is now often mentioned as the best, yet, kids start one year later and there are no exams, no uniforms. Helvi was a Finnish high school teacher and tells me that poor or rich children were not seen as worse or better. Children accept this as a minor difference.

      Liked by 3 people

      • shoreacres Says:

        I’m sure that the “starting point” or context makes a difference. In your country, uniforms may be the problem. Here in the U.S., uniforms have sometimes been the solution to problems.

        I have to laugh — the only people I know in this country who get penalized for wearing the wrong shoes or socks are the NFL football players!

        Liked by 1 person

    • DisandDat Says:

      I disagree on the issue of uniforms leveling out the children from posh to not so posh. I went to a De La Salle school in Oz and everyone in our class knew who the well to do kids were. The bloody boaters condition or the not so clean shirt etc. what is wrong with learning that not all are well healed. Uniforms were expensive. There were shops that sold nothing else.
      It was the leather strap here folks, 1 inch wide and about 3 layers thick by about 15 inches long of the best cow hide. No money for metal work class or woodwork but a fat lesson in Roman Chatholism to start the day.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. jennypellett Says:

    I couldn’t agree more. I hate uniform, always have done but the school’s take on it will be that it is fairest because children who are less well off will not be able to keep up with the latest fashions that their peers will be parading in the playground.
    Senior management at my particular institution insist on all top buttons being done up at all times, even if this results in strangulation by a too-small shirt. Skirts have to be a certain height above the knee and no more but what self respecting teenage girl isn’t going to go around with an unnecessary wodge of rolled skirt waist around her middle so that the remaining skirt resembles a thick belt? Boys get sent from morning assembly if they are wearing white socks. I could go on but it’s all so stupid.
    I can see the sense in compulsory maths to a certain level although I would’ve hated it as a student, being virtually discalculic. (Not a condition even recognised when I was a nipper but is now and is, basically, number blindness).

    Liked by 3 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, I must say, now that when reading the literature and information about schools, uniforms are very much up front. The girls’ blouses have to have long sleeves and must at all times be done up. Nose rings not allowed, not this or not that, but who cares?

      Boys and girls are often in separate schools. Why are they not given the benefits of each other and their differences or similarities’?
      Then they go on about that the name of the school has to be kept up etc.

      It is all so regimented. Why is that so?

      Yet, lack of respect is in the English speaking world despite their punitive approach re education and upbringing.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. doesitevenmatter3 Says:

    Yes, I agree, Gerard. As a mother and teacher, I agree.
    Math is more important than uniforms. This said by a person who didn’t do well in Math classes and only took those required to graduate high school and university. Math is important.
    ( 🙂 )
    Most kids dress decently. And I like that they can express their individuality. Born into, and raised in, a poor family we could not have afforded uniforms. Mostly we wore hand-me-downs. It was sometimes embarrassing to me that I couldn’t the popular clothes other kids wore…but it helped me grow up to be a very content person who just needs the basics and is happy with the basics. 🙂
    Thank you for the links. I will check them out.
    ❤ and healing (((HUGS))) to Helvi! She's on my mind and in my heart!
    HUGS for you, too! 🙂


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Helvi is doing fine and we enjoy time together as never before. Thank you Carolyn.
      Hand me downs were popular in our family as well. The youngest getting the most worn. He was called ‘pancake’ because of all the patches in his clothes. I was the second in line so that was not too bad. It was the same during bath time. All in the same tub and number five had not only tepid water but a bit scummy as well.
      My mother’s dream was to have a bathroom and in Australia that dream was made true.
      How are you going Carolyn?

      Liked by 1 person

      • doesitevenmatter3 Says:

        There were 8 of us kids. And I wore girl and boy hand-me-downs. I especially loved wearing my brother’s shirts. There jeans were too long for me (short girl 🙂 ), so I cut them off for shorts. 🙂

        I’m doing well. Thank you for asking. Will be a wait to redo my last cancer recheck/test. But in the waiting time, I’m not gonna’ think about it. Too much good to do in the meantime! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Big M Says:

    The uniform debate still rages. Back in the sixties and seventies it was argued that school uniforms were cheaper than casual clothes. This may have been true at the time, but I recently learnt that three of my oldest aunts had won scholarships to a very elite private school. They were held back by the cost of the uniform. I guess that would have been during the inter war years.

    As for the NSW curriculum, I’m astounded that so many young people finish high school with no mathematics and science. I get the impression that they may have stopped learning anything when they were seven or eight.

    It sounds as though Helvi ( and you) got through the surgery ok. There’s often some lymph drainage for a while! Bernadette and I think of you both often.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      You are right about the lymph drainage. Each day we see a community nurse who changes the bag and measures the fluid. This Saturday up to Liverpool to have her annual check up for her other cancer, the ‘Chronic Leukaemia’ which is totally dormant and non threatening.
      Helvi has her appetite back and we are back to our walk each day.
      Here in the heat of summer girls wear long skirts reminiscent of the days of Queen Victoria or Jane Austin. I don’t know what school they are from but it must be very expensive.
      Hello to both of you.
      Helvi and gerard


  8. Forestwood Says:

    Funny how I agree with you but when I have exchange students from overseas coming here, they LOVE the uniform, especially the girls, as they don’t have to compete with one another for dressing standards. Everyone is the same. A swedish girl even wanted to start the uniform trend when she went back home. But I think they are far too expensive and the emphasis should be on teaching

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, the students from Sweden probably think it very quaint and at first sight might well attract them. It would be acceptable if a good education went in tandem, but it does not.
      I am not sure if a conclusion can be drawn that the obsessive attention to uniforms go together with falling educational standards.
      The question I am asking; why not make sure we are in the top of educational standards first, and then concentrate on uniforms?

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Andrew Says:

    Very pleased to hear that Helvi is making good progress, Gerard.

    I tolerated my uniforms with the notable exception of the cap which frequently ‘went missing’. When we went into the 6th form at 17 there was no uniform – it was a free for all but most people were sensible. As for maths, I was ok at trad maths but when all the new (Nuffield?) maths came in it was over my head. Or was it the other way round…..? So I did languages once I could drop the sciences. I regret that now. I would not want to be back at school now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Helvi is now back to eating again and is putting on a bit of weight. There are still medical appointments and the daily nurse checking her lymphatic output.

      The debate on school uniforms seem to be slanted in support of it.
      I would not mind if similar attention was given to improve our standards. Year after year we slip further behind in the world’s ranking, especially in English and numeracy.

      Experts recommend that the teaching of another language ought to be considered, together with doing away with single sex schools. Girls seem to outperform boys which is another reason to include them with boys.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. stuartbramhall Says:

    All public schools in New Zealand require school uniforms. There was a recent estimate that it costs the average family $NZ1,000 per child for all the gear, books and school supplies required. Many kids are starting school late this year because their parents just don’t have the money.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, my mum tried to scrape the yearly uniforms together from bits and pieces she got second hand, but when the socks were the wrong colour and her sons sent home because of that, she marched up to the school headmaster and gave him an earful.
      It (uniform) seemed the most important part of education and that’s what she objected to.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. kaytisweetlandrasmussen83 Says:

    Good points on both sides of the uniform question. It solves a lot of worry about what to wear. and is a boon for kids from less affluent homes. The shoe fetish of the headmaster is ridiculous. However, you can learn just as easily dressed in your own style. It puts too much interest in looks rather than learning.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, both sides put up good points. Perhaps some schools just get too obsessive and lose sight of what education ought to be about.

      Despite more money being given to education in Australia we seem to fall behind each your that passes.

      There might be many reasons for that. The teaching profession isn’t highly regarded here in the same way it is in Finland, nor does it attract the quality of teachers.

      To become a lawyer ranks higher in Australia than teaching.

      When a headmaster starts to measure the thickness of shoe soles there has to be something else going on.


  12. Curt Mekemson Says:

    I am with you on the uniform bit, Gerard. And the guy measuring shoe size was the sign of of a person with very little going for himself! Like nothing. Or maybe he had a foot fetish and that was how he satisfied it.
    On the uniform bit, I have heard Peggy, who as you know was an elementary school principal argue in favor of it along the lines that others in the comments argued. It wasn’t unusual for kids with well-to-do parents show up wearing outfits that cost several hundred dollars. –Curt

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, it happens, and amongst girls fashion gets to be important when getting in their teens. Amongst boys the competition is focussed on having the right type of hair. It seems that they want to have huge mops of hair hiding their face. I don’t know how they can manage their iPhones when the sight is hidden by a forest of hair.

      I think the measuring of thickness of shoes is probably to do with some girls wanting to be tall or noticed and the headmaster might resent that.

      Perhaps it is a fetish or feetish.
      The issue went viral and sole measuring of students was also observed in N.Korea and Latvia.


      • Curt Mekemson Says:

        I missed that fashion-competition part of growing up, Gerard. 🙂 Thankfully. Although I saw a photo of me the other day at a 14 year old and could only think, “Awkward!”
        I can understand North Korea but curious about Latvia.
        I do remember when some schools here went around measuring how far skirts went up above the knee during the min-skirt craze.
        I like ‘feetish.’ –Curt

        Liked by 1 person

  13. algernon1 Says:

    With schools, I don’t think Private Schools should receive a cent of government money, unfortunately they do to the detriment of the public system. It’s been demonstrated that the only benefit there is in sending the child to the snoot school is for the connections. The are where I live the public schools have out performed the private for decades. What is unfortunate is that private, tat means independent and religious schools now make up 32% in Australia compared with 6 to 8% in the UK and USA.

    No on uniforms, I see them as a leveller, that said by the end of my high school years the only part of what I wore to school that was part of the official uniform was my tie.Most my year wore Levi Californians rather than grey trousers. I’ve seen enough kids who just getting to school due to poverty is a success in itself without the one upmanship of having to worry about what clothes they are going to wear.

    I think comparisons between the Finnish and Australian systems are unfair. Finland has a population of 5.5 million about the same as Sydney. Most people are Finnish with about 330000 from Russia, Estonia, Somalia, Iraq and the former Yugoslavia. My kids went to primary school with kids with backgrounds from 59 different countries and high school with over 100.

    Australian kids do learn Science and Maths up to Year 10. It is not compulsory for the last two years only. That must be stressed. What should also be kept in mind is that kids cannot leave school nowadays until they turn 17 except if they have a registered apprenticeship. When I was at high school in the 70’s you could leave at 14 years nine months and most left at Year 10 into Trades. In other words 1/3 of the year that started year 7 finished with their HSC. Nowadays it would be above 90%.

    I don’t have an issue with the Math and Science, it depends what they do afterwards. It did disappoint me that none of my kids did a science but that was up to them. That said two have degrees and the third is about to start a Fine Arts degree at the National Art School, they didn’t study Maths or Science in their final years.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. gerard oosterman Says:

    Yes, Algy. There are differences and the multi national composition of students in Australia must make it more difficult. That’s one reason that more help ought to be made available to schools here.
    The biggest draw back is as you mentioned the split system of Public versus Private. I believe that are many that will put up arguments in favour of Private by arguing that education should be a choice for parents.
    I reckon a good education is a right for people as is good health and social welfare. It is wrong that the choice should be about money and parents’ access to it.
    All schools should be good.

    As for uniforms, I can’t remember this being an issue before coming here. We wore daggy clothing going to school. If uniforms are a leveller, then at least make all uniforms level and the same so that it isn’t used to advertise Private schools, often used by snooty parents as a status symbol.


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