The Appeal of Uniformity

As expected, much fuss this past week about School Uniform. Somewhat surprised to discover however that Prince George’s uniform for his first day at his ‘prep’ school cost only £340. Over the years M and I have crafted a theory based on occasional viewing of ‘Antiques Roadshow’ which suggests that the more ugly and unpleasant something looks then the more valuable it will undoubtedly be. As such, £340 seemed to us to be remarkably cheap. To be fair, one could argue that the little prince’s uniform is more banal and forgettable than idiosyncratic and vile, though counter argument may run that it is the very unremarkable and forgettable nature of the uniform that makes it so very hideous. Would be happy for either argument to prevail just as long as time was not wasted parading the arguments in the Press and the Social Medias. Acutely aware of the irony of touching on the topic in my diary and immediately remind myself of previous entry about Embracing Hypocrisy and Acknowledging Contradictions. Wonder now if that should be ‘Celebrate Contradictions’? The alliteration is appealing and perhaps it comes across as more Positive? Resist temptation to edit yesterday’s post in some Orwellian ‘re-writing history’ manner.

Prince George’s uniform of course merely an hors d’oeuvre to the main course of delight taken by many in The Media in delivering gleeful beatings of State Schools attempting to Raise Standards by implementing No Excuses approach to uniform. Shared various examples of such stories with M over breakfast most mornings last week, to which she replied that she was patiently waiting for the first comments about how The Poor may whine about the cost of school uniforms yet are still able to find the money for their satellite televisions and mobile telephones. From which it is of course merely a skip and a hearty jump to someone suggesting that that nice Mr Hitler Had The Right Idea. Or at least that he Wasn’t All Wrong. Suggest to her that if she were reading The Daily Mail instead of The Manchester Guardian then these kinds of comments would be immediate, plentiful and likely even more vilely vitriolic. ‘And poorly punctuated’, she added.

Often wonder just where the English pre-occupation with School Uniform emanates from. No doubt some weighty academic tome exists somewhere that explains all in excruciatingly dull detail but cannot even find the motivation to ask The Google for an easy answer. Feel certain however that it is deeply rooted in militaristic myth and maintaining the status-quo of Class boundaries. Admit that this thought is, like the ‘Antiques Roadshow’ theory of the relationship between aesthetics and financial value, somewhat lacking in Scientific Basis and is indeed founded on data that is flimsy at best and non-existent at worst. Recognise that such an approach to establishing educational theory will not sit well with so-called Learning Scientists or the nice people at ResearchEd, both of whom clearly understand How To Build A Following and leverage business opportunities within the educational market place. Decide that this is undoubtedly a strength.

Embrace Hypocrisy and Acknowledge Contradictions

Re-read ‘Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People’ and immediately worry if a book first published in 1988 can Still Be Relevant in a world changed out of all recognition. I know this is the case because I am old enough to remember 1988. Resist temptation to watch video clips on The WikiTube of old Top Of The Pops performances by Yazz and Tanita Tikaram.

Quickly and confidently identify that the Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People are ones that I already have and that therefore any failings in my leadership must be Someone Else’s Fault. Remember that this is the argument put forward by colleagues I have been challenging (in a supportive manner) about the examination results of their students and that perhaps I should re-consider my stance. Consider that the alternative is to accept the hypocrisy and decide that embracing hypocrisy (or at least acknowledging contradictions) could be another habit of Effective Leadership. Immediately make commitment to add this idea to my canon of Highly Individual Ideas that I will propagate endlessly via this diary and on The Twitter. Convinced that the educational illuminati will embrace me for this and welcome me into their midst with open arms.