White button down ties for boys, pleat skirts for girls! As we move towards a new decade of a looser and more flexible education system, surprisingly, uniforms have been experiencing a come back. In the US, a country where students don’t typically where uniforms, it has been increasingly popular for schools to enforce a uniform policy. Want to know why? Read on to find out the pros and cons of uniforms in schools.
With school uniforms, students will be responsible for ensuring their appearance is smart and neat. It introduces a culture a discipline and organization. One study found that uniform policies improve rates of attendance, graduation, and suspension. Moreover, since the introduction of a mandatory uniform program, one Albuquerque school saw a 74% decrease in student discipline referrals.
Additionally, it is found that school uniforms will focus student’s mental energies on their academics instead of their appearance. For example, it was found that students tended to be more punctual with uniforms as they spent less time in the morning deciding what to wear.
Decreases Social Class Distinctions
It is a sad fact but people especially children and teenagers often judge others by their appearances. There will be peer pressure or even competition among students to have the most fashionable outfits. In a survey, teachers reported that there was an increase in students facing mental health issues as well as stress about their fashion and appearance.
Hence, disadvantaged poorer students may feel self-conscious or even be bullied for their simpler or scruffier clothing. Thus, uniforms could help in preventing students from being discriminated for their social-economic backgrounds. Uniforms could be an equalizing tool to even the playing field and make students feel more socially accepted.
Increases School Pride and Community Spirit
It is believed that by having students possess a unified appearance, their sense of unity will increase too. Uniforms can increase school and community spirit by enhancing the study bodies’ feeling of togetherness. Some schools even have distinctive uniforms, it can be a source of pride for students to display their uniforms.
Proponents of school uniforms state this unity and community leads to better academic achievement as students work together to fulfill goals and foster an environment of learning. Teachers report an increase in the level of respect, caring, and trust in their school after an introduction of uniforms. Students also felt more important and part of a team.
Safer School Environment
School uniforms make students easily identifiable. Thus, it would help mark any suspicious individual that is not wearing a uniform on school grounds. However, uniforms can also decrease crimes committed by students themselves. One study found that a school’s adoption of uniform policy led to a 63% in police log reports.
Uniforms also prevent the display of gang insignia or affiliated colors. As many gang culture is tied to their appearance, uniforms decrease the criminal identity.
Cost and Maintenance
Unless schools or governments provide funding for parents to purchase school uniforms, it causes parents to shoulder an unnecessary financial burden. Though they might not be very expensive, the cost can be significant to poorer families. Hence, opponents of school uniforms believe that they are there for commercial rather than educational reasons.
School uniforms are often intended to look sharp and neat. Hence, white shirts, socks, pants or shoes are often a staple of the outfits. Unfortunately, it also requires more effort to have them in their pristine white condition. Both parents and students have to spend more time and effort on washing and maintaining them.
Some would argue it encourages conformity instead of individuality or creative expression. A number of schools are very strict when it comes to enforcing their uniform policy. Students may be punished for something as minor as having their shorts go below their knees.
This in turns creates a more oppressive and stifling environment where students are discouraged from developing their personality. Students may breed resentment towards the authority figures in school.
Though they look sharp and neat, school uniforms may not be as comfortable as casual wear. Some schools have evolved to having comfy khakis or polos as school uniforms. However, many schools still require students to wear shirts, ties and even blazers. Depending on the weather, it can be discomforting and hence distract students’ focus in the classroom.
Additionally, many traditional uniforms are still segregated by gender. Male students wear shorts and pants while female students wear skirts. Some argue this is sexist and impractical for girls. Moreover, uniforms may not fit or look suitable for all body types. This may cause self-esteem and self-image problems for those with different body types.
Insignificant Educational Benefits
Some believe that though there are all the benefits that a uniform provides as listed above, in the end, they are small and insignificant to the education process. By focusing on school uniforms and policies regarding it, schools or the government may be diverting attention to much larger issues. It is argued that educational institutions should focus on curriculum, quality of educators, funding, etc.
Uniforms are merely band-aids to solve issues which require more in-depth and effective solutions. For example, discipline could be more effectively instilled with more exemplary and interactive educators. Meanwhile, school pride and sense of community is better served with more engaging school activities, bullying can be prevented by fostering a more inclusive and positive learning environment, etc.