Saturday, November 08, 2008

School Uniforms in Taiwan

  bike ride, kids, etc 023bike ride, kids, etc 022





All students wear uniforms.  They have a formal one (a blouse/ shirt that can be worn with a skirt or pants for girls, and pants or shorts for boys) and a "PE" one that is a t-shirt and pants or shorts.  They also have a jacket that goes with both uniforms (it's not usually worn over the face.)  In the picture on the right, the girl on the right is actually the youngest at the table- reminds me of me in 5th and 6th grade!

bike ride, kids, etc 024Each school has different PE uniforms although most of the non-PE ones look kinda the same.  Above there are 3 girls in navy pants or skirt and a white blouse; they all go to the same school.   In this picture, the girl on the left and the one in the pink shirt go to the same school- one is in PE uniform, one isn't.

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Your uniform includes the school name (usually just in Chinese) and a label with your student number.  On the left it has the name of the school (TanZi) followed by his class (5), year in school (06, 6th grade), and number in that class (04).  The class number is random; they do rank students in order from best to worst (even in 1st grade!) but that isn't on the uniform.  On the right, it's the name of the school in a little crest, followed by grade (6), class (08), number (19).  That school has about 20 classes of each grade!  As you can see lots of kids have that uniform.  Most schools are smaller.  Some schools number differently, like by the year you start school, and many only have 4 digits in their numbers.

Lots of Westerners don't like the number thing- some say it's like jail.  I'm not categorically opposed to viewing kids as prisoners, and I can see why it's convenient.  For one thing about half the kids I have in classes share 4 surnames.  Also, lots of 1st-graders can't write their names in Chinese characters.  And imagine keeping track of thousands of students, like at that huge elementary school!  Finally, because there are so few sounds in Chinese, even native speakers have to describe the characters that make up their name (like I'll say, "I'm Han Yi Ling," then the Chinese equivalent of "Korean Han, heart Tai Yi, small ling ling" which makes sense to Chinese people!) so if say a parent calls the school about their kid, it's easier to say their student number than to say, "He's in grade 4, in Miss Lin's class, no the other Miss Lin, no the other one," then describe each character that makes up the name.  I'm sure there are other reasons but that's the one I know!

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