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Posts Tagged ‘pyjamas’

Pyjamas in Tesco, nighties on the school run – whatever next?

Many of us read with amusement last week that certain Tesco stores have introduced a dress code to stop women from shopping in their pyjamas and slippers.  Later in the week we read that this lack of decorum is also being seen at school gates.  The head of a Belfast primary school alleged that as many as 50 mothers were regularly turning up at the school gates dressed in night-clothes, while dropping off their children.  In a letter home to parents he slated the practice describing it as ‘slovenly and rude’.  He went on to comment that ‘arriving at the school in pyjamas is disrespectful to the school and a bad example to set to children’.

I was intrigued by my reaction to these stories.  Personally I don’t think I have a problem with anyone shopping in their pyjamas.  If I saw someone in my local store in their nightie I’d definitely chuckle but I don’t think I’d be shocked or horrified.  In fact I must confess that having often longed to stagger to Tesco in my slippers and slob-at-home trousers myself, I couldn’t help a smidgeon of grudging admiration for these women.  How nice it must have been for them to be out and proud in their penguin and teddy patterned PJ bottoms and furry slippers, swanning down the Tesco milk aisle without a care in the world.  Somehow I felt that Tesco were spoiling their fun and infringing their rights with the pyjama ban.

However, my reaction to the pyjama clad women at the school gates was instantly one of disapproval.  I am inclined to agree with the head teacher that it is disrespectful to your child to drop them off at school without bothering to get yourself dressed first.  The implication is that you’re going back home to slob around (or even go back to bed), which hardly seems fair when they are going to school to work.

I found myself wondering how the children feel about their mothers’ choice of clothing?  Maybe if 50 other mums are dressed the same it’s not an issue, but I know that my 9 year old son would be mortified if I tried it!  My 6 year old daughter would just worry that I’d be cold apparently, but she doesn’t mind standing out in a crowd.

I was also interested to see that so far this issue appears to be a uniquely female phenomenon.  There has been no mention of men shopping in their PJs, or dads in pyjamas on the school run.  Admittedly less dads do the school run or Tesco shop as a rule but still, it made me wonder.  Do men have more shame?  Or do they not own pyjamas they would be prepared to wear out of the house, or indeed own pyjamas at all?  Believe me you would NOT want to run into my husband in Tesco wearing his usual night-attire.

The whole thing also begs the question: who is to judge what counts as pyjamas anyway?  Imagine the shame of being turned away from your local Tesco or told off at the school gates; when you are actually wearing yoga pants or M&S ‘relax-at-home’ trousers?  Should we keep our receipts to prove they are really not pyjamas even if they look like them?

So, place your bets where will pyjamas be putting in an appearance next?  Cinemas, doctors’ surgeries, Post Offices?

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How do you recognise education when you see it? Can you be educated while wearing pyjamas or dressed as a dog? What about while climbing a tree or building a den in the woods? It is one of many things that bothers me about the new Children, Schools and Families bill currently at the committee stage in parliament, specifically as it relates to home education. The Government proposes, amongst other things that you can read about here, to license parents before they will be “allowed” to educate their child outside the school system. The power to grant this licence would rest with the local authority education departments. Many of these officers have been teachers, a head teacher in the case of the Home Ed liaison person in our LA. How well equipped is someone who has spent her professional career in a classroom, where children sit at tables or desks and often wear uniform to recognise that an education can be found anywhere and wearing anything we damn well please? Our LA’s policy on home education already states they expect to see evidence of 25 hours per week of structured work? So pretty much school then, which is absurd. One or two or three or five children with readily available adults to facilitate their learning do not need the same thing as 30 children in a room with one teacher and one classroom assistant. They just don’t. Does the time she spends learning add up to 25 hours a week? I don’t see how it could fail to when you take into consideration all the time spend poring over books and being creative. Above all the time spent asking questions and getting answers or help to find answers about periscopes and what unit of time is smaller than a second or bigger than a year, or telephones in the 1970s, or what kind of rock is this.

Supposing this person thinks as a friend did in a discussion on the subject, that a child who is often in just pyjamas cannot be getting a suitable education? Can we just stop and think about that logically for a moment? Do our brains switch off when we change daytime clothing for nightwear? I don’t mean when we go to sleep. It is the change in our state of consciousness that matters, not what we wear to do it. My daughter often stays in her pyjamas much of the day. If we’re not going anywhere, why should she not? Her other preferred form of dress is as a dog, often complete with harness and lead. She’s six and inhabits a world of vivid imagination.

Not that much of her education comes from sitting at a table doing worksheets either. Some does; she enjoys doing them. But it might equally be playing chess with Daddy or making a swamp for her dinosaurs out of kitchen ingredients, or emailing her uncle to ask about rocks or my personal favourite, the long and rather philosophical conversations about maths that seem to be triggered by car journeys. How is the person from the LA going to come and inspect something that doesn’t look anything like education as she knows it?

I don’t think you can separate education from life really. There are no “premises where education takes place”, at least there is no one place. Are they going to follow me to the shops where my daughter writes the list and works out how much money we need to give and what change to expect? Or come to our friends’ houses and home ed. groups, to museums and galleries, to parks and forests and swimming pools and stables and sweaty sports halls, to her science lessons and to theatres and to chess club? She gets her education in all these places and more. She does it wearing pyjamas and fancy dress and jeans and jodhpurs and tracksuits and swimming costumes.

One thing I often hear about my daughter is that she is always the one asking questions. And that, to me, is what an education looks like…an enquiring mind and the tools to find answers.

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