Opinion: The Time for Modernization is Now

Cailyn Kouhoupt , Chief Editor / Staff Writer

As the clock tower strikes seven in the morning, students at Pinkerton Academy are seen rubbing there eyes from sleep and sipping energy drinks while hoping to not get written up by teachers for breaking the strict dress code. With the ever-changing societal normalities and scientific modernizations, the education system seems to falter in their progression, staying overly traditionalist. From the world-wide sexism awareness of stereotypical dress codes, to the medical sleep-studies performed on school children, Pinkerton Academy has yet to actively change our start times and/or create a flexible dress code, which is strange seeing how quickly we have adapted technology into our everyday learning.  

As the world evolves, many businesses have come to the conclusion that what you look like does not define your worth to a company. The same modernization should be happening in schools, but we are stuck in a 150 year rut. This is mainly due to the idea that the entire workforce has not changed, when that is far from the truth. Since 2014 Michaela Rollings reported that the amount of businesses that have made the change to casual dress code has steadily increased by 14 percent with 64 percent of businesses implementing a casual dress code for one day a week. That number is continuing to rise as businesses find that 61 percent of employees are more productive with a relaxed dress code, and 80 percent don’t even understand the purpose of a business dress code. With a relaxed dress code, people are confident and comfortable, raising morale and motivation. During a press conference with Dr. Powers, he mentioned that the school dress code is meant to “prepare students for their next steps in life”. What fails to be considered is the multitude of businesses changing the dress code-rhetoric to be more flexible, as mentioned above, along with the growing independent self-employed businesses requiring no dress code at all. Dr. Powers did, however, mention that the upcoming changes to the dress code will result in “trying to remove gender” by creating a “positive” relation to the dress code, but this positive change will likely be the result of a stricter dress code, focusing on what we can wear vs. what we can’t. The world is evolving to be more creative and open-minded, and schools should follow suit instead of becoming more strict.  

I must give credit where credit is due, and with the pandemic, schools adapted overnight to fully online with little complications. This incredibly fast and efficient change showcased our abilities to adapt in order to create a better environment for students and staff. If we utilize this newfound knowledge to fix our overly-traditionalist ideologies, such as dress code and early start-times, students and staff will be better fit to achieve greatness. 

With the rapid evolution of technology comes the rapid technological advancements in science. The education system has utilized this newfound technology, with Google Classroom and email running our lives, but the ground-breaking medical findings have yet to create change in our school start times. It is important to add that later-start times are only necessary to middle school and high-school students, as their circadian rhythms, aka our bodies’ 24 hour cycles, shifts due to puberty. With this shift comes the need for more sleep than what a prepubescent adolescent needs. Gideon Dunster, a graduate biology student at University of Washington, Seattle, along with Biologist Horacio de la Iglesia, led the groundbreaking research in which they conducted an experiment on 90 high school students who  received an extra 55 minutes before the start of the school day. Their research found that their median test scores increased by 4.5 percent (Schmidt), and the students got an average of 34 extra minutes of sleep on a school day, better matching their weekend sleep schedule. This small change in start time of 55 minutes improved students attendance, grades, and mental health. The change would be more difficult for the Pinkerton community, with the busses being integrated to multiple different towns and schools, but the change is not impossible and would be extremely beneficial to the community, staff, and students. Community effort for daycares, busses, and schools would be needed, along with a deep sense of empathy for students and teachers alike, but, to reiterate, not impossible. This change is necessary to the mental and physical health of the students and staff.  

COVID-19 boldly showed education’s flaws and strengths. Pinkerton’s sense of community regardless of a crisis is truly unique, and adapting to remote learning overnight with little to no flaws is nothing short of impressive. We are adaptable. We have the ability to create a safe and powerful learning environment– we just need to do what Pinkerton does best: work together.