Saturday 24 August 2019

Sinead Ryan: 'Surely the point of uniforms is to be the same'

Notebook

'I’ve never understood in these #equality days why girls’ uniforms continue to overwhelmingly insist on a skirt' (stock photo)
'I’ve never understood in these #equality days why girls’ uniforms continue to overwhelmingly insist on a skirt' (stock photo)
Sinead Ryan

Sinead Ryan

I'm ahead of the curve on social issues, but I'm claiming a little credit for the whole gender-neutral uniform thing which has got some people's gym knickers in a twist.

About a million years ago I took a stand in school about the petrifying cold weather (the rolling tundra of a Goatstown winter was a terrible thing before global warming) and wondered, possibly too robustly, why we girls couldn't wear trousers to school rather than the obligatory knee-length grey skirt with the wind whooshing and swirling its way around your thighs. I also may have suggested that the Protestant girls in the school up the road were allowed wear tights, while we suffered white socks.

The nuns, never at the forefront of fashion, objected, and while they were at it, banned the mildly fashionable flat court shoes we had all taken to wearing in favour of leather brogues, preferably with laces, in case we might lose the run of ourselves altogether.

I was put out in the corridor alongside the principal's office to reconsider my subversive behaviour, which at least let me skip class. There was vague talk in the newly formed honours civics class about setting up some form of a protest committee but in the same year our only ever male teacher mysteriously disappeared after just one term, having got us to write letters to Amnesty International on behalf of prisoners of conscience, and we didn't want to push our luck.

So bualadh bos to St Brigid's National School in Greystones, Co Wicklow, and it's not the only one, which has decreed students may wear whichever version of the uniform they wish and get on with important things like multiplication tables and reading.

I expect in reality the number of boys (not doing it for a dare) who wear the pinafore will be few and brave, while a bunch of sensible girls will switch to trousers because they're practical.

Good luck to them all and I hope they're allowed get on with it. I've never understood in these #equality days why girls' uniforms continue to overwhelmingly insist on a skirt. They're fine in summer, but awful in winter, especially if we're trying to encourage walking or cycling to school. A uniform should be just that: uniform.

Getting away with it

The nuns were great on the old discipline, all the same. The click clack of them coming down the hall would put a terror into you only matched by the wooden spoon appearing at home.

Perhaps they could benefit our gardaí, 3,000 of whom have been sanctioned for not prosecuting crimes committed by teenagers.

Some 8,000 serious crimes have gone unpunished where gardaí haven't bothered to follow through on them. We're not talking the odd mugging or vandalism, but really serious stuff considered beyond the rehabilitation of the various juvenile diversion programmes. They only admitted the findings of a disciplinary inquiry after it was promised their career prospects would be unaffected. Sure, why wouldn't you?

So, everyone gets away with it - the criminals and the cops.

Don't drop the pilot

You've heard of driverless cars; well now Airbus is boasting about pilot-less planes.

The aeroplane manufacturer informed the Paris Air Show the technology already exists for "autonomous flying"; there's only the small matter of overcoming regulators and public perception.

Given the grounding of Boeing's 737 Max 8 fleet worldwide, I reckon public perception is the least of their worries. Most of us believe planes are all but flown on autopilot as it is, but you still want the reassurance of knowing there's a grown-up in the cockpit just in case.

Irish Independent

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