School Smocks: Purpose

Figure 1.--French school boys commonly wore smocks to school until the 1960s. The traditional style appears to have been back buttoning. Most were black or dark blue so as to not show ink stains. Collars varied. Many of the smocks worn by these boys are collarless. Some have white collars, primarily Peter Pan collars. Two boys wear bows with their white collars.

The smock is a very utilitarian garment. There are a variety of reasons why they were adopted for schoolwear, from protecting clothes to improved discipline. Proponents say that it puts an end to thetyrany of fashion and helps to minimaize social inequality. It also helps to maintain disciplime in the school. A French source listed the following reasons why school children should wear smocks. While this is a French view, it probably is not greatly different from how parents in many other European countries may view smocks.

Le tablier est un vêtement très utilitaire. Il y a une variété de raisons pour lesquelles ils ont été adoptés pour schoolwear, des vêtements protecteurs à la discipline améliorée. Les partisans disent qu'il met un terme à thetyrany de la mode et les aides à minimaize l'inégalité sociale. Elle aide également à mettre à jour le disciplime dans l'école. Une source française a énuméré les raisons suivantes pour lesquelles les écoliers devraient porter des tablieres. Tandis que c'est une vue française, il n'est pas probablement considérablement différent de la façon dont les parents dans beaucoup d'autres pays européens peuvent visualiser des tablieres.

Mettre fin à la dictature de la mode et des marques/Put an end to the dictatorship of fashion

Les enfants sont de plus en plus les victimes d'une pression publicitaire énorme, qui les conduit à réclamer aux parents l'achat de vêtements de marque souvent très onéreux, pour "faire comme les copains/copines". Les conséquences sont sérieuses pour le budget des mamans et les enfants sont souvent victimes de vols ou de racketts commis par ceux qui n'ont pas les moyens de s'offrir ces habits aux griffes prestigieuses. En mettant un tablier à leurs enfants, les mamans réaliseront ainsi de sérieuses économies sur les frais d'habillement à la rentrée, et protégeront les enfants de la convoitise de leur camarades.

Children in our modern society are more and more the victims of an enormous marketing pressure in today's ever present mass media. This leads them to demand that their parents purchase branded or designer clothing which is often rediculously expensive to copy their classmates and buy these designer clothes. A French cpntributor to HBC explains: All kids like to form among themselves a group where all members share same interests, appareance, behavior, age. That group can (or should) differ quite drastically from the rest of the society. Kids refuse uniforms imposed on them but have elected uniformity within group. If kind of a leader suddenly starts a new fashion (usually heavily suggested by advertisomh on television or other media) then all members of group will have to follow so as to fit in with their friends. It was up to the parents to buy these clothes, and if not, then their children got teased. Hamlet said 'to be or not to be', Kids say 'to appear or not to appear'."

The consequences are serious for the budget of the moms, especially families with limited budgets, and the children can often get into fights or become the victims racketts instigated by those which do not have the means of getting their parents to buy these clothes for them. This is often very important to children who see prestige coming from wearing trendy clothes. By dressing their children in smocks, mothers can realize substantial savings on clothing purchaes. This will ineffect protect their children from the covetousness of their comrades.

Réduire les inégalités sociales/Reduce social inequality

Le port du tablier permet de masquer les inégalités sociales entre les enfants. Ceux dont les parents ne disposent que de revenus modestes n'ont plus à avoir "honte" de leur petits camarades plus fortunés.

Wearing a smock makes it possible to mask the social inequalities between the children of different economic classes. Those whose parents have only modest incomes and are unable to purchase the expensive clothes coveted by children, no longer have to be ashamed as their clothes are covered. No one can see the expensive, trendy clothes. This also reduces thecinterestof the more affluent children in pressuring their parents into purchasing trendy clothes--as they are less able to how it off.

Protéger les vêtements/Protect clothes

Un tablier bien couvrant permet de protéger efficacement les vêtements contre les salissures et les petits accrocs. Les mamans s'épargneront ainsi bien des lessives, du repassage et du raccommodage, tout en rallongeant la durée de vie des vêtements de leurs enfants. Faire moins de lessives, c'est aussi protéger la nature en diminuant les rejets de phosphates et de détergents, ne l'oublions pas non plus.

A smock covering one's clothes makes it possible to effectively protect clothing against the stains and the small tears associated with the active school day. Mothers will save themselves thus many washings and needless mending, while lengthening the lifespan of clothing of their children. There is also an ecological impact that may appeal tonsome of the children. Fewee washings nmaeans that less detergent needs to be used. This helps to protect te environment by reducing the phosphates released into the urban runoff.

Garantir la discipline/Guarantee discipline

Porter un tablier constitute aussi une contrainte -légère-, qui permet d'inculquer aux enfants un minimum de sens de la discipline, discipline qu'il est malheureusement de plus en plus difficile de faire respecter dans les établissements scolaires.

Wearing a smock constitutea a constraint--however light. This helps to inculcate in the child a sence of discipline--at least a small step in that direction. Such discipline that it is increasingly lacking in today's schools.

Préserver la décence et la sécurité des enfants/Preserve the decency and security of children

Trop d'adolescents et surtout d'adolescentes s'habillent aujourd'hui de manière outrageuse, en contradiction avec leur age et leur maturité. Une tenue vestimentaire inutilement aguicheuse ou désinvolte peut avoir des conséquences regrettables, et mettre un tablier à vos enfants, c'est aussi les préserver des regards et des tentations.

Too many children and especially teenagers get dressed today in a outrageuse way, often totally inappropriate for theie ages. Inapproriate clothing or off-hand behaviour can have regrettable consequences. Wearing a smock can avoid teenagers, especially girls, be subjected to glances and temptations.

A Note on Translation

HBC has used the Altasvista translator for the translations here. HBC edits the Altavista computer and then posts it here. Amy sections pf the text thast are unclear, HBC will note. Readers are invited to submit any correctiins on the translations that they may feel are required.

A French contributor reports, "What a pity that Rnglish and your systems don't recognise the very French specific characters é è à ç û ..." HBC does try to add foreign accent marks when possible. The accent marks do appear here in the States. Apparently in computers set the French language, computers do not recognize the accent marks set on a computer reading American English. I was surprised to read this.


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Created: September 25, 2000
Last updated: February 7, 2003