Friday, December 17, 2010

One or the Other

As temperatures have dipped below -15 in recent days, students at my middle school have taken to wearing all manner of cozy garb in order to keep comfortable in a building that was clearly not designed for cold weather. Kids wear ridiculously huge scarfs that wrap up to their noses and they bring blankets to class whenever they can.

One other thing that the kids like about this weather is that they are then permitted to wear something on top of their school uniform - a proper winter jacket to help them regain any uniqueness among them which may have been lost while wearing the same school uniform throughout the year.

Of course, this is a complete failure, as the new winter uniform (unofficial among teachers, but official among students) seems to be the puffy North Face jacket - again, and even more so this year than last year, and that's saying something.

Honestly - my school's population has become a sad little cautionary tale of overwhelming sameness - not completely unlike the (for me) junior high school phenomenon of big baggy Roots or Beaver Canoe sweaters that we all seemed to be so fond of. We ALL needed one of those, so I can't begrudge my students too much about it, but I do find it quite entertaining to see the boys especially, with their custom tapered skinny uniform pants on skinny little legs, and a giant Michelin Man puff ball for a coat, all wandering down the hallway in their North Face posse formation.

All I can do it address them all as "The North Face" because the brand logo covers the spot where their Korean name badges would otherwise be visible:

"Hi, Teacher Dave!"
"Hi, The North Face!"

The photo above is of SOME of the male students in ONE of my grade 3 classes. If I were to invite North Faces Only to my classroom for a special photo - they actually wouldn't fit - standing shoulder-to-shoulder. It's a crazy thing, but there are quite possibly over 600 North Face jackets in my school alone - somewhere around the 50% mark. I'm not kidding.

Thankfully, there is a new challenger this year: The "Military Jacket". This is for the more discerning middle school student - tired of the bloated conformity that The North Face brings, these bold students have decided to strike out on their own, wearing the all-green (and much less winter-resistant) cotton canvas jacket, because they are clearly stoic individualists, and not the type to simply do what everyone else is doing. I have counted over 34 of these military jackets on students so far - all exactly the same as far as I can tell, though there appears to be no one dominant brand. If I had the time, I would happily choreograph and film a West Side Story Jets VS Sharks / The North Face VS The Military Jacket confrontation in the hallways of my school.

This actually gives me a brilliant idea for winter camp...

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