Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Back to School!

So there is this whole 'back to school' phenomenon here in North America that I'm experiencing for the first time. Everyone's just blabbing about it, from a pencil to a car, everything is on a 'back to school' promotion and deal. I'm reading moms posting messages on facebook about how 'bullying' is uncool and literally every TV commercial talks about back to school. Its not like I haven't seen 'back to school' happening back home, I mean every country has this post summer phase when kids get into new grades with new uniforms, and new books, stationery etc. We have ourselves experienced this excitement too as kids but what makes me smile and kind of laugh time and again is how 'big a deal' it is over here (in a good sense). 

The only thing that disturbs me though is how back to school advertising from clothing brands focus on the 'cool' or 'uncool' school wear and how they emotionally seduce moms to buy their kids new wardrobes so that they do not face self esteem issues when they go back to school this year. At the same time this part of the world experiences more bullying issues at schools which I think is somewhat also fueled by not having uniforms in school. By not having uniforms you're opening a whole new opportunity of discrimination, finger pointing, prejudice, increased self indulgence and consumerism among kids. Whats even more ironic is that its the public schools which do not have uniforms (most of the private ones do), whereas you have more children from the middle class and immigrant backgrounds studying in public schools. Being an immigrant is in itself sometimes food for bully-ism; so to add to your different colour, you now have your dress sense or money (or the lack of it) add to the diversity overdose in schools. 

As they go to the next grade with perhaps more books and heavier curriculum, the last thing I would want my kid to worry about is his/her clothes and whether or not they look cool enough for school. And it doesn't just stop at clothes you know, its all those accessories that go with it (and for girls the list is never ending). I think when it comes to student life, I like the old school thought from back home in south asia where people think strictly about exams, sports, extra-curricular and activities that add to your character and not more. Our schools did not even allow us to have a different coloured or fancy pony tail, let alone anything else. And I think that really kept us from being distracted by our or other students' appearances.

I think there is at least one element that needs to be removed from this whole 'back to school' phenomenon in the media, and that would be the 'wardrobe'. 

p.s this is what you get when you type 'back to school' on you tube (just notice the order and you'll understand my point). 


  1. Totally agree with you. Uniforms really do help...if nothing else, than at least to remove one layer of discrimination or distraction...as you pointed out.

    Really interesting observation about the youtube search listings. Totally proves your point how superficial this "back to school" phenomenon is.

    Waisay I just wonder how it came about that private schools in North America have uniforms and public schools don't. That would be interesting to know.

  2. Private schools are usually more formal and disciplined than public schools. I think its the same in England. My aunt's kids went to a private schools and they had uniforms. I don't think it was the same for public schools.