I drive to school, and the kids I see on the way, all off to school, wear shorts uniforms. These kids are from 5 to 11 years old, I'd guess, and it's 3 degrees celcius (37 F) out today. As the winter goes on, I thought I might see them transition from shorts to pants, but midwinter passed already and I'm still waiting. The little kids are still running down the street in shorts. Most of them aren't wearing coats either, just their school blazers, and they look cold.
The same phenomena persists at my school. From their socks to their skirts, the girls' exposed and goose-bumped legs scream to me, "Please give me tights, or stockings, or something!" I had a conversation with a student that went exactly like this:
Student: "I'm so, so cold today!"
Me: "Why don't you wear stockings?"
Student: "I don't need them."
Me: (pursed lips, furrowed brows, generally confused looking)
I heard that they think not protecting themselves against the cold builds character, but when I test this theory by looking to the adults I work with, I see them either snuggled up in giant coats, hanging out by the heater, or walking in with no coat and jumping up and down because they are so cold. They all talk about how cold they feel. A far from perfect case study, but so far, I say, put pants on those kids! And a down coat. And some mittens.
I am of the belief that the energy the kids are using up being cold, thinking about being cold, doing things to try not to be cold, could be used on more worthy tasks. It's the same as with my baby, who wouldn't thrive if he were running around with a wet diaper all day, or hungry, or cold. The body's resources divert from learning to comfort, and in more extreme circumstances, to survival. When the body starts to shiver, that's what the body is thinking about, survival. I know I don't want my kid worrying about survival. I want him thinking about the colors and shapes he sees, and the world around him, and learning and growing from that. Bollocks to character. That's what we have heaters for.