A thick and heavy skirt. A scratchy blouse. A badly tied tie. Ripped stockings. Chunky lace-up shoes that you grew out of two years ago. A blazer. Sound familiar?. Of course it does. Every student knows just how awful and uncomfortable school uniforms can be. It’s almost as if we are programmed to hate them. So wouldn’t it make sense to ditch them in favour of mufti every day? Funnily enough, I don’t think so.
I believe that ditching school uniforms would not only cost parents more money, it would be a bad idea all around. In fact, school uniforms are as important as anything else in the education experience. Interestingly, what most excites children going to school for the first time is usually their uniform. Every five-year-old can appreciate wearing a school uniform is a powerful rite of passage, and an equally powerful statement of belonging. This is no less true of high school students.
Each school and its students usually find that their distinctive uniform is not simply an exercise in conformity, but a connection to the history of the school and a symbol of its community. These elements make students feel that they belong to something bigger than themselves. The simple act of putting on a uniform makes a student feel prepared for school, and indicates a readiness for the day ahead. However, admittedly students do not wear uniform simply for the sake of tradition, to feel they belong, or even to prepare them mentally to study.
Instead, I believe uniforms have been worn since schooling began, and will likely continue to in the future, because they are a great leveller. No two students are the same: many come from different backgrounds, different areas, different classes in society. Nevertheless, whatever they bring to the school, they all come together on equal footing, to be identified and judged by their character and contribution alone.
If uniforms were to be ditched and students could wear mufti every day of the week, it would get old pretty fast. I don’t know about you, but I found it hard enough finding outfits for Mufti Day once or twice a term, let alone every day! Students would end up spending an extra half an hour EVERY MORNING worrying and fretting about what to wear and feeling like their clothes aren’t “cool” enough. There is no need to worsen the status and respect many students give to clothing labels and price tags. Student attention needs to be focused on learning in the classroom, rather than how they look when they are in that classroom. Mandated uniforms can serve to shift the emphasis from competition back to academic performance and personal achievement.
Uniforms create a feeling of oneness and belonging. Everyone can be on the same team. As on athletic teams, uniforms are worn for immediate identification and to inspire a feeling of ‘oneness.’ Put on your team uniform and you suddenly belong. A sense of loyalty emerges from inside, as does an extra effort to perform at the student’s best. Look, my school uniform wasn’t exactly gorgeous, but it never mattered! No one looked any better or worse than anyone else, and in a learning environment, that was perfectly fine. Nothing to worry about!
- Should schools get rid of school uniforms?
- What would be a solution to meet in the middle?
- Who is responsible for this issue in the first place and who is responsible for solving it?
Practical Thinking Questions:
- Ask your parents if they wore school uniforms at school? Do they look back gladly or do they wish they never had to?
- How can you make your school uniform better? Is there something individual about it?
- Design a new school uniform that students will feel comfortable, individual and happy in.