Teachers are expected to don standard outfits on special school occasions and they conform because of the need to bond with their peers and yet be different from the rest.
WE WERE comparing old school staff photographs and trying to remember all the names of our former colleagues and wondering where they might be now when Dilla remarked, ‘Notice how much more colourful staff photos of 20 years ago were compared to now.’
We looked at Dilla’s 1988 staff photograph taken in front of her old school hall with the usual “three level” arrangement. The teachers in the front row were all sitting on chairs with the principal right in the middle. Another row of teachers stood behind them, and at the back was the final row of teachers standing on a bench.
“Fast forward 25 years, now look at gambar staf 2012 (staff photos 2012),” said Dilla pointing to a more recent photograph.
The setting and arrangement were the same. Even the squinting of eyes to avoid the glare of the sun’s rays and the poses were similar.
There was however one marked difference. There seemed to be an added degree of cheerfulness in the 1988 photo due to the different colours the teachers were wearing compared to the rather austere looking uniform blue batik which was worn by all the teachers in the more recent photograph.
“We do look smarter, I suppose,” said Dilla frowning at the 2012 photograph. There’s something to be said about uniformity… but somehow it lacks something, don’t you think? Character, that’s it … it lacks character.”
I looked at the two photographs again and sensed what Dilla meant. While there was a greater sense of orderliness in the 2012 staff photograph, there seemed to be a feeling of freedom and diversity in the multi-coloured older photograph.
“We looked happier too,” said Dilla pointing to herself in the 1988 photo. “Look at me, don’t I look happier?”
There was no denying it. There Dilla was, in a canary-yellow knit skirt, feathered hair, huge earrings and a wide smile on her face standing next to another teacher dressed in a light pink and green salwar kameez. Compared to that, the smiles in the more recent photograph looked a little forced.
I could see where Dilla was coming from basically because I had often thought the same thing myself especially when those in charge went a little overboard in deciding “uniform” dress material or colour themes for every special school occasion.
The standard batik for all teachers in the same school is by now part of almost every school staff and even the most difficult-to-persuade teachers who had chanted “show me where in the directive it says we must have a uniform”day and night, had finally succumbed and grudgingly purchased the batik material, with loud exclamations at how overpriced it was and how someone “up there” was a making a tidy profit from all this.
In the midst of all this, the committee in charge of these “staff-uniform” decisions would often go to great lengths to explain how difficult it was for them to find such high quality yet very reasonably priced material which would flatter all complexions.
We would be additionally informed of how lucky we were now that we had a standard teacher’s uniform. Come special school occasions like speech day or PTA meetings, it would be so easy for us. No more racking our brains thinking about what to wear.
All we had to do was to make sure our uniform was pressed and ready. With so many advantages, it made those who had rallied against the idea seem ungrateful and unjustifiably rebellious.
And so school teachers, some quite happily, purchased the material even if it was twice as much as what they would ordinarily pay, discussed the best tailoring places and got it ready by the time the next school occasion came up.
The problem was that it doesn’t quite end there with everybody being happy or coming to terms with the wearing of the teacher’s uniform.
by Mallika Yasugi.
Read more @ http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Education/2014/02/23/In-uniform-glory/