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Sunday, December 14

Have you ever seen this?

I stumbled upon this in High School and got quite a kick out of it then--and now.

Thursday, October 2

Uniforms and Dress Codes

I loved going to a college with a dress code and I love teaching at a school with a very strict dress code (a step below uniforms).  I think there is so much more to dress code and uniforms than people realize.

There has been a lot in the news lately about how educators are shaming young ladies for having bodies and basically dress coding them on everything that they wear.  Prom dresses, leggings, skinny jeans and so on.  Whether or not that "you affect the boys by the way you dress" argument is valid or not (personally I don't think it is valid) is an argument for another day.

I do believe that you show respect for your body by wearing clothes that cover it properly, unfortunately what "properly covered" means is culturally created and varies from location to location.  So in effect, each individual has to ask themselves, "what does modesty mean to me?" and "how will I dress to respect myself?".

So, if everybody has a different idea of what "respectful dress" looks like, how do we reconcile this in an educational setting?

Uniforms my friend.

I actually prefer uniforms over dress codes.  Think about all of the ways that uniforms set certain groups of people apart.  They provide distinction.  They show that the wearer is performing a certain task.  Doctors, police officers, supermarket cashiers, members of a particular sports team and many others.  Uniforms aren't bad, they help us know who people are and what they do.  In Argentina, the uniforms (smock) for all kindergartners is the same style but the colors vary for boys and girls (even the teachers wear it).  I think it's awesome.  I always knew who the kindergartners were.

(and the kiddos in their "lab coats" aka guardapolvos)

The rest of public schools in Argentina also have the kids wear smocks (guardapolvos).  I've seen them in solid white, blue, gray or green (mostly white) in a few different styles.  I just read an article that most of Argentina is moving towards all primary and secondary schools using a white guardapolvos as a symbol of purity, equality, hygiene and democracy (interesting article HERE for you spanish-speakers).  The private schools also had uniforms--slacks/skirts/polo shirts.  As we have researched schools around the world for my culture class elective, I can't think of a single country that didn't have a uniform...maybe Canada or England???  I feel like this issue that we are dealing with is unique to our country because we have so much freedom of dress in schools and that certain popular styles are disrespectful or too casual or too distracting.

Honestly, uniforms are easy.

Dress codes are a little more complicated but very much a part of our culture.  Besides the obvious, work, dictating how we dress as a matter of professionalism (would you ever walk in to an interview in workout gear?) there are other venues that require certain dress to show respect and honor like weddings, graduation ceremonies and televised awards ceremonies.  Certain events are labeled formal, semi-formal or black tie.  Why?  What does dressing differently or with limitations do for us and others?  And then there are situations where the way we dress is based on utility and function.  I probably wouldn't ever go to the gym wearing heels and a prom dress.  A kid wouldn't show up to play soccer at the park in a tux.  Not that we couldn't but it just doesn't make sense.

So now let's put everything I've mentioned about uniforms and dress codes into a school context:

-Uniforms provide distinction.  They show that the wearer is authorized to perform certain tasks, ie. learning and teaching; this can be very unifying.
-Uniforms help us know who people are and what they do.  At school this is helpful when we have had unwanted kids and adults on campus.  On field trips it is easy to identify our students.  It's also a good reminder for the students, "oh, right, I dress in these colors and these types of clothes because I am a student at ____ High School."
-Dress codes and uniforms show professionalism, respect and honor of self, teachers, peers and education in general.  Dressing in a distinct way for school shows that it is an important event.
-Dress codes and uniforms allow us to be functional at school and participate in a variety of activities without worrying about wardrobe malfunctions.

Part of the dress code at the school where I teach is that shorts and skirts (in a khaki, navy or black color) must not be more than 4 inches above the knee.  Is this hard for boys?  Not really with the current styles.  Is this hard for girls?  Ish.  Here in Utah they make lot's of knee length skirts and shorts.  However, occasionally I have a student who has most likely gone through a growth spurt and the legs get longer and so they have more than 4 inches above the knee showing.  These are always girls, not because I hate girls and want to dress code them to shame them but because girls clothes right now don't lend themselves to falling less than 4 inches above the knee.  When I dress code a student, I say, "hey, that doesn't look like it's 4 inches or less above the knee."  There's no shaming.  There's no embarrassing.  It's just a fact.  You're not in dress code.  The same way I would dress code a girl for wearing her orange jacket in my room (orange is not an approved color) or how I would dress code a boy for not wearing a polo shirt (all students must wear a collared polo shirt).

When our school streamlined and simplified our dress code some things got stricter (every student must wear a collared polo no matter what) and some things got laxer (wear whatever color socks and accessories you want).  What we did was pick our battles.  The teachers at our school HAVE to enforce the dress code, if it's too complicated, we either don't enforce it or enforce the wrong things.  Because it's strict we don't have to worry about the leggings issues (they must wear PANTS, skirts or shorts in limited colors) or the cleavage issues (they wear a polo).  And honestly, if a girl does have cleavage showing, big whoop, they are in dress code, some girls just have cleave and we can all learn to deal with it.  If 18 year old missionaries can handle naked women on billboards in foreign countries, then teenagers can handle whatever might be visible from a polo shirt.  Our dress code now feels more like a uniform than a dress code and I like it.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I get frustrated when people say dress codes are attacking females.  Dress codes aren't attacking anyone really.  I don't feel like people are explaining the WHY of dress codes very well.  Ten years ago (okay, more like 15) when sagging was really in, an adult enforcing dress code may have said, "gross, I don't want to see your underwear, pull your pants up or I'll give you a dress code violation."  Not only is it rude and shames the kid, it doesn't explain the problem.  "Showing your underwear in public isn't very respectful.  It shows that you can't fully dress yourself and that you aren't ready to be in school and learn.  It restricts and limits some of your movements.  It takes some of your focus away from learning and puts it on trying to make sure your pants don't fall completely to the ground" is a much more effective way to explain the problem.

To sum it all up, my feelings are:

1.  Dress codes are not bad but some educators have been enforcing them badly.
2.  Many dress codes need to be streamlined, making them easier to enforce.  This often means getting rid of loopholes and getting stricter.
3.  We do not have dress codes to demean kids when they don't comply.
4.  Kids should know the WHY of dress codes.
5.  Having a uniform would make life even easier for all involved.

Tuesday, May 6


Most of my memories are fuzzy, and to be honest, there are lots of things I should remember but don't. But I had a sharp snippet of a memory come back to me today.  It felt like deja vu almost.  I went outside tonight to get some fresh air and to get out of my stuffy house.  I layed in my hammock and basically communed with the night sky whilst listening the Penny & Sparrow album.  Do you ever have that?  Looking up into the night sky and just being alone in your thoughts is just plain spiritual sometimes.  I just felt so complete and at peace.  Better connected to myself.  With a better sense of who I've always been (that eternal part of me that will always be).  

And for some reason that feeling took me back to 2002 in Tyler's white clunker of an SUV (she had a name like Bessie or Bertha).  I can't remember who was there that night...maybe Jon and Esera, maybe Claud, Mak or Tiffany.  But I remember laying there in the back with the seat folded down and listening silently to Simon (by Lifehouse) and breathing in fresh Idaho air and feeling so at peace and so loved and just in communion with everything and everyone around me.  It made me miss all of the times in Idaho when there was nothing to do and we would go driving on a dark night through potato farm roads, and not say anything, and just be.  It made me miss the kinds of friendships where you don't have to say anything, you're okay just being together and let the music do the talking.  Or where quiet is okay because you know each other well enough to have the capacity to converse without talking.

Sometimes I forget how much certain things make me happy.  Looking at the stars is one of them.  I need to do it more often.

And now, a few of the delicious lyrics from the song To Haunt, To Startle

When you hear nothing...
And you feel less...
Your struggle is pretty, sit still
& know that I know what is best.

Saturday, April 12

Gratitude, Spring Soccer and the "effectual struggle".

Sometimes you just have good days.  Not like Disneyland good days.  But just days where you feel content and really grateful.  Today just turned light.  Maybe it was getting off of work at 2 and knowing that I was officially on Spring Break.  It may have been meeting up with Kelsey at the gym to do some gymmy things.  Or getting cafe rio tostadas afterwards?  I think it was that at 4, with frozen yogurt in hand, we made our way back over to the school and perched ourselves on a perfectly warm, sunlit hill overlooking the Salt Lake valley, the wasatch mountains AND the phall high soccer field.  As we walked to the hill my students yelled, "Spraz, you came" and "cheer for us in Spanish again like last time".  It was fun that they were so excited to see me and just added my feeling lighthearted.  Watching the game made me feel nostalgic about all of the Saturday games I attended for each of my four younger siblings.  Ha!  And I still can't explain what "offsides" is.  None of this might seem like a big deal to you, and that's okay.  I'm just grateful for some really simple things that I had stopped appreciating.

There's something about Spring that just turns me grateful.  Seeing some flowers on trees, and green in fields, it staying lighter longer (almost 8 o'clock now!), the feeling that the school year is getting closer to the end, and the Easter message of hope in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.  I like the "newness" vibe of Spring and that makes me want to be more optimistic.  I think that explains why I read the scripture Mosiah 7:18 differently the other night.

So let me briefly summarize the situation first and give a little history.  A group of Nephites had left Zarahemla (with a guy named Zeniff as their leader) and gone back to the land of Nephi to "claim their inheritance" in the land of more about it HERE (verses 27-30).  We all know the story of Zeniff's son King Noah, and then his son is King Limhi you can read about in Mosiah (chapters 7, 8 and 21...and everything in between for the whole story).  King Limhi and his people are not doing too hot (and in, like, major bondage to the Lamanites) when they are discovered by Ammon (from Zarahemla).  There's a ton of rejoicing because they're happy that their brothers in Zarahemla are doing well, happy that they might have help to get them out of their mess/bondage and happy that Ammon has brought them some of the words of the amazing King Benjamin.  And then verse 18 is King Limhi addressing his people after all of this rejoicing...

"18 And it came to pass that when they had gathered themselves together that he aspake unto them in this wise, saying: O ye, my people, lift up your heads and be comforted; for behold, the time is at hand, or is not far distant, when we shall no longer be in subjection to our enemies, notwithstanding our many strugglings, which have been in vain; yet I trust there bremaineth an effectual struggle to be made."

For some reason I had never bothered to look up what effectual means and assumed it meant like a never-ending or repeating struggle.  Here's what effectual means:

adjective: effectual
  1. 1.
    (typically of something inanimate or abstract) successful in producing a desired or intended result; effective.
    "tobacco smoke is the most effectual protection against the mosquito"
    "effectual political action"

OH MY GOSH.  I love effectual struggles.  I love this scripture.  Sometimes we feel like maybe we have struggled in vain, that our suffering and fighting didn't even accomplish anything for us.  King Limhi was hopeful but honest that their future would be a struggle BUT that is would be an "effective, successful, productive, worthwhile, advantageous, valuable" struggle.

Believing that you have an effectual struggle left to fight is so hopeful, just like Spring, and now you get why Springtime made me read this scripture differently.

Friday, January 10

The Power Of Words

I took this picture a few years ago at a traveling exhibit that was at BYU showcasing art from the Middle East.  Some of the art was writing.  Whatever the language was (Arabic, Persian, Farsi, or an ancient version of one of those, I have no idea) it was beautiful.  And then I read the sign pictured above.  Something about that resonated so strongly with me I had to take a picture of it.  Later, some students I was with (on a field trip) got yelled at for taking pictures.  Ooops.

So I really believe that certain words do have healing and protecting powers.  Some words are so sacred that I only say them in certain places or at certain times.  Through a series of instances I have come to know that there is a real and tangible power in Christ's name.  Yes, one of the things I understand about Him is that there is power even in His Holy Name.  I used to think that people were just being dramatic when they would assert something along those lines.  It's not dramatic or showy or cliche to me anymore; it's just the truth.

I just did a search in my digital gospel library of the phrase "in his name" and I've come to realize that the best things in my life have been done "in his name".  How powerful and significant then is the concept that we take that name upon us.

There's also the power of everyday words.  Words in regular conversation.  What we are even willing to talk about or discuss.  I recommend reading this talk by Jeffery R. Holland from 2007:

Words are powerful!  Do you believe they can heal and protect?