Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Uniforms are important in Brazil.   Almost all students wear school uniforms, and of course the teachers wear uniforms also.  Dora and Bea's school (Escola da Serra) does not require a uniform, and actually prides itself in the fact that they the students get to wear what they want and express themselves with their fashion choices.  When we first moved here, I thought "Great!  One less thing I have to spend money on."  Because, like most things in Brazil, school uniforms are pricey.  But the thing that I didn't really consider was that school uniforms are about the same price as clothing (jeans, shirts, etcetera), but it's okay if they don't look sparkling white, or if they get stained or little holes.  Because they are uniforms, and they are meant for those kind of things.  After a few months at their school, which is also known for it's great arts programs, I found that the children's clothes were taking a real beating.  Schools here love to have kids use Caneta Soft Point Ponta Porosa, and it stains their hands and their clothes like CRAZY.  And the sad thing is that it isn't permanent, meaning that the ink doesn't stay on books, plastic, pens, and other important things you want to label.
curse you, Caneta Ponta Porosa!

We lost several items of clothing to Caneta Soft Point Ponta Porosa. 

Then there was the roughhousing.  That cost Sebastian a few shirts (ripped).  Make-up day (stains on Bea's dresses, not to mention a rash to her sensitive skin).  The massive painting projects for various events.  The kids clothes looked pretty bad by the end of the school year. 

So I decided that 2012 was going to be different.  Sebastian has to wear a uniform at Maple Bear, so that was easy.  A little pricey up front, and we are still adding pieces to his wardrobe, but I already notice that his "nice" clothes are still looking nice.  Because he doesn't wear them to school!  Beatrice and Dora now have to wear school shirts to school, or old clothes.  We had purchased one school shirt for them for field trips, and from the various events (Semana Olimpica), they've built up a collection of school shirts.  I'm also noticing the different with them too!  Their school shirts look like junk, but the cute shirts that Grandma bought, and the nice dresses that we found for US$3 at Goodwill are looking great! 

And, I've broken down and I've now joined the ranks of the uniformed.  I requested that Maple Bear provide me with a shirt, and I got my own special ones:
Hi cute little Maple Bear, holding a Canadian flag!

oh yeah.

Not only do I get to save my clothes, but I get the respect of wearing the uniform.  I'm not just this random non-Portuguese speaking teacher that wanders around the school.  I am the music teacher.  I never would have gotten so excited about something like this in the states (I HATED uniforms, and never wanted to wear them unless I absolutely had to).  But here, it's part of the culture, and a way to get respect and be recognized.  And I'm liking it. 

Unfortunately, they only got me 100% polyester shirts.  This music teacher works up a sweat in my class, jumping, moving to music, handing out recorders, and generally just being busy trying to keep the kids under control.  And my classrooms tend to not be very well ventilated.  And now I'm wearing polyester.  I don't think my uniforms are going to smell very good for very long.


  1. Yeah MUSIC TEACHER!! Love this article! And I'm glad to hear that uniforms are saving the day! Actually, I wish that uniforms were the norm in schools in the U.S. There is some research indicating that it improves behavior and academic success...come on public schools in U.S.

  2. I agree with Julie. After teaching for 8 years (in a predominantly Luso-Brazilian neighborhood of Newark, NJ), I would have to agree that uniforms instill a sense of discipline and improves academic success. In NYC, many public school students are required to wear one. I think it's starting to trickle into NJ, too. Not too sure about AZ since I'm out of the loop.
    If you want cotton shirts, cotton bed linen, etc., head down to Rio de Janeiro. I found their quality of clothes to be better for a comparable price. I still don't know why every article of clothing in MG is Polyester. I bought my husband a new wardrobe here in the US because the wardrobe he brought with him consisted of polyester button down shirts... a sort of "social uniform".