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School Uniforms – Yes or No?

by , 6th Dec 2013

The heated debate of whether schools should enforce uniform policies has been divided by strong supporting evidence on both sides.

The yes-sayers who are in support of school dress code policies uphold that the reason for a school uniform dress code policy is simple; it is to create a positive atmosphere for learning within a safe environment. They argue that school uniforms provide a positive social environment, level the playing field for economically challenged families and keep the school community safe.

On the other hand the cons camp builds a very strong case for their non-support of school uniforms citing that uniforms are costly, lack effectiveness and undervalue the importance of self-expression.

Let us have a look at the reasons FOR school uniforms:

Uniformed schools have a direct effect on the students’ sense of belonging and school identity. This creates a positive social environment as every student is “on the same team” There is a feeling of unity when wearing a uniform that your colleagues’ are also wearing. It also breedscollegial spirit and support for one another. An easy example of this is how athletic clubs bond as a team while wearing the sport’s uniform. It is a display that there is a collective consciousness and that team members work collectively towards a common goal or purpose.

classmatesAlso school expectations are easier to enforce when students are in uniform as it is a physical display of readiness for learning by being properly dressed. A school uniform is a symbol in part of preparation and duty towards learning. Outside distractions of fashion and inappropriate dress is excluded from the environment as every student in uniform displays their academic intentions of the day and leaves the consumer driven world on the outside for the duration of the school day.

School uniforms are economical as they eliminate the need for parents to buy their children clothes for school that keep up with the ever changing trends. Not only are school uniforms classic and can be worn for as long as they last, they also give parents a way out of not having to buy their children certain apparel to show that they “fit in”. School uniforms create equality as they remove competition between students of higher and lower socioeconomic groups.

Some critics argue that in some extreme cases certain socioeconomic groups cannot afford the price of the uniforms. There is no school board on this planet that will deny any student access to a school based on the family not being able to afford a uniform for the child. Every school board has uniform assistance for those families in need. This assistance is easily accessible through the schools vice-principal and/or guidance counsellor and covers the full cost of the school uniform. Similarly when uniforms get very worn and a family cannot afford to replace the item, uniform assistance program is there to help out with a new item at no cost to the family.

School uniforms keep school communities safe. It is an automatic way to identify who is part of the school community and who is not. Intruders are immediately identified. Out of all the arguments for school uniforms I believe this is the greatest one since its motive is to keep our children safe. School uniforms are also a great safety feature on class trips; students from a particular school are quickly recognized. This helps the teachers not only count students quickly it also helps students stay together as a group and identify as one.

School uniforms also keep out any gang related identification or markings, bandanas are not allowed and neither are any coloured t-shirts allowed to be worn underneath the uniform shirt.

The cases AGAINST school dress code policies are very strong. The arguments have much merit and need to be properly considered.

School uniforms are costly and therefore contradict the reasoning that school uniforms even the playing field for families in low socioeconomic brackets. In fact it is of determent to the exact people they are trying to support. Parents must buy their children regular clothes regardless of whether the school their children attend is uniformed or not. The uniform is then an added expense and therefore not a way to help financially struggling families but actually adding burden. In the situation that a family has several children attending the same uniformed school it creates a very large cost for the family at the beginning of every school year. Uniformed schools could represent a massive obstacle to new comer families whose financial means may be very limited due to their recent immigration.

school-uniformsSchool uniforms do not evade cliques from forming, nor do they create a homogeneous community. Uniforms therefore lack effectiveness and do not live up to the promise that they create a positive social environment. Furthermore there is no proven correlation between uniforms and achievement or uniforms and behaviour. The argument that uniforms contribute to students performing better academically and behaving properly simply are not true. Moreover school uniforms can serve to stigmatise a school especially in urban areas. This can happen when students from a “bad” school are easily identified by the uniform they wear and then are marked within the community. This can lead to ghettoized schools and neighbourhoods and cause an awful divide, exactly what the uniform was trying to prevent.

If “imagination is more important than knowledge” as Einstein said then school uniform policies undermine the importance of self-expression and attack the very foundation of what we should be teaching our children, to think critically and grow to become their own people.

As Tara Maginnis Ph.D. wrote “school uniforms send early-life messages to students that conformity is important and creativity is not, that authority is allowed to abuse its power and constrain our constitutional right to free speech and expression.

What we wear and how we dress are true reflections of who we are and how we feel about ourselves. Our wardrobe is an expression of our personalities, on certain days it can reflect our moods, on other days our ethnicity and at times our attitudes. To not be able to express one’s self through clothing is like not allowing an athlete to run or a singer to sing. Enforcing a uniform at school is also not reflective of the real world. It does not teach individuality and how to celebrate our differences but in turn shuns them and teaches conformity. Schools should be a place of exploration, support and growth and imposing a mandatory dress code does not do this, but quite the opposite.

The debate of whether schools should enforce a dress code policy and assume a school uniform for the students is contentious and the reasons for and against are equally strong. People’s opinions will lie depending on what their priorities are. A parent that highly values safety will likely side with yes to uniforms. Other parents who view self-expression most important will want an environment for their children that is not conformed by a uniform. As with many issues in life our opinion will lay with our values. The benefit of many of our communities is that there is lots of choice amongst schools and so each family can choose what school environment is best for their children.

What is your opinion on school uniforms: are you pro or against? Is there a school in your vicinity that enforces uniform policy? If so, do you think it helped its pupils become better students?

Featured image credit: DarkB4Dawn / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

26 comments

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  • terzic.igor08@gmail.com' igor terzic says:

    Certainly the uniforms in schools can help different classes of students to quickly and efficiently equalize and thus become an equal part of the system , but also uniforms may constrain individuality and creativity that are the same features in every child .
    Normally that ‘s a lot of reasons for and against uniforms must be a function of better child adjustment conditions prevailing in a particular school community , and thus need help in the way children accept their responsibilities as something that is completely natural and the opposite of of how not to prejudice reject others who are not of the same financial status as they or any other topic, which can be an obstacle to building a relationship that uniforms can be removed.
    Arguments in favor of the uniforms are the same ones who put them as an important sign of recognition and a sense of belonging to a school , because in this way reduces the differences that may remained problems if not corrected as it is best for children and their needs must meet in order to enable them to give their best to what they can show through learning and good and legitimate behavior .
    Uniforms can liberate children dress code undue burden through which symbolize a certain group of students, which spoils the average obtained by entering uniforms as something that is compulsory and available to all pupils regardless of their religious , financial or any other differences that may alienate the children from each other and thus reduce the correlation between them , which are combined into one group, which is valid for the same.

  • mariahadjistylli@hotmail.com' Maria Hadjistylli says:

    A very interesting topic and extremely debatable! I remember that we had to write an essay on that topic while at school expressing our opinion. I have to admit that there are very strong and sensible reasons both for pro and against uniforms, making it a bit tricky for one to decide. However, on the other hand I think there are reasons mentioned which in my opinion are not valid at all.
    Personally, I grew up in Cyprus where school uniform is compulsory both in public and private schools. However, the last few years it has become an option in the public schools so the students can decide on their own if they prefer to wear a uniform or not.
    As a student myself, I spent my school years in a private english teaching school where school uniform was compulsory. The fact that it was a private school does not mean that every student’s family came from an economically healthy environment. In many cases, parents prefer such schools based on the school’s discipline, academic results and language (as some of the students come from a different ethnic background). Today, being a 24-year old clinical microbiologist and having much more experiences in life, I can tell that in my opinion school uniform cannot do any kind of “harm” to a kid or a teenager but on the other hand can offer a variety of good things. Wearing a uniform during school hours only cannot affect a child’s personality or self-expression. The child is free afterwards to wear whatever goes along with its personality. Uniform at school provides a kind of equality for every child independently of the family’s economic background/situation and ethnicity. Thus I think children learn to respect each other of who they are and not depending on their background, limiting any racist actions. Personally I also find it an easy choice both for the child as well as the parents. On the other hand I have to admit that school uniforms sometimes can be extremely expensive and therefore some families not being able to afford these expenses. It would be good for example the school to offer one uniform to each child at the beginning of the academic year. In addition, academic excellence has nothing to do with uniform. The child might be more disciplined when wearing a uniform, however, I do not think it can affect its academic results. This depends crucially from the way each child has been raised by their parents and closest environment and what manners they have adopt from an even earlier age (pre-school age). Also teachers play a very important role on how they will teach every individual and let him express himself freely, as well as, help him realize his talents, as each one of the children is unique with its own personality. So I think these factors play a more important role than the uniform itself.
    In general, I think uniforms are not such a bad choice during school years and I see them as a nice way of showing a member of a big school team in a friendly environment.
    It was very nice reading this debatable article and thank you for letting us express our opinion on such great topics!

  • arianawatson456@gmail.com' Ariana Watson says:

    I have gone to both public and private school in the past and I think both sides of the argument definitely have their benefits. As you mentioned with a uniform, everyone is wearing the same thing and that leaves no room for people to feel uncomfortable about what they are wearing or to feel ashamed. I know that this can happen and although some people might not feel this way, it is definitely a problem that occurs, especially during middle school when attentions start to become focused more on looks and doing what’s considered cool. I think uniforms are also a great alternative to buying several kinds of clothes and it keeps costs down, because all you need is two or three uniforms and you are good to go, and you usually get them cheaply from lands end or other places at reasonable prices, even if they look kind of fancy uniforms are usually pretty cheap. In terms of the comment about when its cold out, we had a sweater that was part of the uniform which we could put on when it was cold. As for short or scandalous uniforms, our skirts had to be below our knees and no tank tops were allowed, and we got in trouble if we weren’t wearing the uniform properly. I agree though it definitely does not leave room for creativity and I hated that. I also didn’t like how strict it all ways, I think if schools could find a happy medium or actually create uniforms that don’t totally stink, like jeans and a sweatshirt, it would be kind of cool.
    Ariana Watson
    http://www.mansuri.co.uk/

  • My school didn’t have a school uniform but when I started 4th year (16 yrs old) they brought in a ‘dress code’. It made my mornings easier because I knew I could only wear certain clothes Emote There’s only one high school in my city that doesn’t wear a uniform or have a dress code; they actually had a vote only last month involving staff, students & parents and majority chose to stick without either. The private schools in my city all have very strict uniforms – boys always have to wear a shirt, blazer and suit trousers and the girls all have to wear a shirt, blazer and kilt in the schools tartan. I personally think a uniform or dress code is smarter and it gets children in to a routine for the world of work where they have to wear one or the other.

  • School Uniforms are uncomfortable for me. I feel that it shouldn’t be allowed but I don’t want to be bias. Uniforms represents the discipline of a student (for me). It also shows how clean and responsible a student is because the clothes you are wearing can also represent your attitude towards other things.

  • lara101@iburst.co.za' Lara says:

    School uniforms are nothing but abuse of power for teachers to punish over. They should not be allowed in schools. I simply don’t but into the argument that they save money coming from a disadvantaged background myself and having worn one in public school. Sorry but they do not so anything to aid education.

  • lara101@iburst.co.za' Lara says:

    That is they do not aid education at all I don’t buy into the save money argument either. Frikkin keyboard on a cell phone too small.

  • Yadavbharat0274@gmail.com' BharatYadav says:

    Good debate

  • leenakhattar512@gmail.com' Leena Khattar says:

    I support that schools should have uniform . As it makes our morning easier. Specially girls, if uniforms are not there every morning we have to think a lot.As also we say how can we wear the same dress again. So it creates problem for parents. School uniform presents discipline.As a student i think uniforms create a better environment to learn.As it creates unity .

  • pottergaming123@gmail.com' Haley Carter says:

    interestingly interesting

  • BobRoss@McDonalds.com' Bob Ross says:

    A masterpiece.

  • BobRoss@McDonalds.com' Bob Ross says:

    Ay! Moderator! You better accept this comment or Ima come to yo house and beat yo ass!

  • mg300917@students.davenport.k12.ia.us' bella says:

    i wish we could have them at are school

  • 24wilsonc@fgsmil.org' caitlyn says:

    wearing school uniforms should be banned

  • Dog17@gmail.com' Doggggggggggggggggggggggooooooooogggggggggyyyyyyy says:

    I think that uniforms are kind of good And not

  • Saarvh@gmail.com' Sara VH says:

    “There is no school board on this planet that will deny any student access to a school based on the family not being able to afford a uniform for the child.” What an unfortunate and inaccurate generalization. Which part of the world do you base this observation on? I live in Southern Africa and it is vety common here for children to be denied access to school because their parents are not able to afford the uniform. And uniforms are expensive here too.

  • tasneem.kharadi@gmail.com' Jeff says:

    That is very true to all of these amazing examples! 🙂

  • aidanmcbryde@gmail.com' aaidan says:

    no you dont i have been in a uniform they do nothing but show how much your school dosent know how to control the bullying and bullcrap that happens

  • 672283943@gmail.com' John Cena says:

    Yes they should

  • OliverFi484@gmail.com' uniform laundry service says:

    School uniform has been subject of debate for many years. In majority of countries it is mandatory to wear uniform. And in some schools in countries like USA and UK has considered that it should not be that mandatory to wear. As per my opinion, the uniform is must to wear to maintain the etiquette and ethics.Visit us @ https://www.uniformbright.com/

  • 194020@mcpsmd.net' um idk says:

    why do we need them? they squash our freedom of expression

  • Hirawatsonline@gmail.com' Hirawats says:

    School Uniforms – Yes or No?: Wonderful

  • budgetuniforms96@gmail.com' Budget Uniforms says:

    impressive

  • Bhumikaghalley@gmail.com' Bhumika Ghalley says:

    There should not be uniform in a school as it takes away the freedom of choice, prevents students to explore the fashion world and helps in staying hygienic.

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