A young chap I know was in his last year at a ‘highly sought after’ public school. He was given a detention for not wearing garters. He sat in the hall with the other ‘naughty students’, writing out the school rules. He was a few days short of being old enough to vote.
A few months later and he was heading off for another day at university, wearing shorts, t-shirt and jandals. I commented on this new ‘liberated’ dress code. The difference between school and university was not lost on him; and not only in terms of dress code. What a difference a day makes, eh?!
Let it be known that this young chap had been warned in advance that a ‘garter check’ was imminent. He knew the odds. He lost. But to be told repeatedly that the school was engaged in ‘preparing students for life beyond school’ is risible. Throughout his time at school, I talked about this dissonance with him, as a way of encouraging him to see the nonsense of it; of the need to navigate the system. He was a high achiever anyway (in the way that the school encourages us to think about high achievement), good at sport and socially competent.
But what’s even more troubling for me is that parents pay extraordinary sums of money and go to extraordinary measures to enable their children to attend this public school. They believe. They do not question. If their child fails the system, it is the fault of the child. It speaks volumes about the state of our education system. It really does miss the mark in providing a complete education. But at least our children are getting the education ‘we’ want for them. And at least we don’t have the ‘university walk’ in New Zealand schools. Yet.
Out of curiosity, I did a google search. I can confirm that garters are past their use by date as an essential item for school uniforms.
Ease Education: Teaching at a human scale.