Institutionalized life and the effects of a repetitive schedule

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Sydney Kim ’20.

Strict schedules, consequences, disciplinary power, and uniformity are four defining characteristics of life in an institution. Students and faculty members at Sacred Heart Greenwich spend a significant amount of time in an institutionalized setting, where they experience these characteristics daily.
A repetitive schedule is an aspect of life in an institution. Many prefer the structure of a schedule or routine as opposed to the uncertainty of an unplanned day. Repetition minimizes stress by eliminating the unexpected in a daily routine, according to psychologicalscience.org.
“I do think that having a repetitive, structured schedule is very helpful,” Middle and Upper School Psychologist Dr. Melissa Otero said. “As humans, we need routine and structure to function well.  It helps to organize our days, be more efficient, and plan for the future.”
At Sacred Heart, students and teachers follow a repeating 8-day class schedule. Courses within the schedule rotate, allowing for certain days where classes do not meet. Students also adhere to a weekly schedule, attending school five days a week.

The white board in the Upper School hallway displays the schedule for the day. Sydney Kim ’20.

In addition to a repetitive schedule, consequences help maintain order in an institutionalized environment. Certain consequences are established for certain actions.
“We have positive and negative consequences for all kinds of behaviors, whether they’re obvious to us or not,” Dr. Otero said. “Much of the time it is a consequence, or potential consequence, that motivates us.”
Disciplinary power, or the control established through the fear of being caught, is another essential component of daily life in an institutional setting.  For example, a Sacred Heart student may be motivated to complete her homework in order to be successful in a class or avoid disappointing her parents.
Uniformity is another defining aspect of life in an institution. For instance, living in an institution where everybody is in matching clothing might reduce barriers and strengthen the relationship between members of the community, according to greatschools.org. However, the enforcement of uniforms in schools is a popular topic of debate, as there are many reasonable pros and cons of a uniform, according to healthguidance.org.
One argument against uniforms includes that a uniform prevents self-expression and has a negative impact on children in both their present and future lives, according to healthguidance.org.
However, Sophomore Malika Amoruso shared her personal thoughts on uniformity, stating that it reduces stress and is a benefit to an institutional setting.
“If I had to choose something to wear every morning for school, I would be worried about what other people think of it,” Malika said.
Uniforms help to build community among Sacred Heart students.
Sydney Kim ’20.

Uniformity helps to create judgement-free zones, where students can more easily concentrate on their work rather than focusing on their attire.  School uniforms eliminate peer pressure to be in stylish or trendy clothing, according to greatschools.org.
Dr. Otero gave her input on having a school uniform, having similar view as Malika.
“The school uniform creates a community building opportunity, similar to military uniforms,” Dr. Otero said. “There are a lot of practical reasons why a soldier needs a uniform, and then there is also the aspect of camaraderie, brotherhood, sisterhood . . . there can be a similar effect in schools with uniforms.”
As members of a school community, students and faculty at Sacred Heart Greenwich have an experience similar to that of people all over the world. The themes of a repetitive schedule, disciplinary power, established consequences, and uniformity run through life at all institutions.  Though people may seem separated, everybody is connected through the way that their day is constructed and the influences under which they live.
– Sydney Kim, Staff Writer