Dr. Rachel Williams
Should students have to wear uniforms in school? Politicians, parents, teachers, and students all have strong opinions on this issue.
There are many arguments on both sides of this debate. We are going to go over a few of these arguments to explain both sides of the position.
Why do some people say that all schools should have uniforms, while others say that school uniforms should be left in the past?
Those who support school uniforms believes that wearing uniforms will increase school safety and decrease instances of bullying among students. Students wearing uniforms create fewer discipline problems, some experts say. They believe that wearing uniforms decreases bad and dangerous behavior such as fighting. Also, uniforms mean that it is very easy to identify intruders and people who don’t belong and may be a danger to the school.
Bullying is another safety issue that experts believe can be solved by uniforms. Some students get teased or bullied because they are not wearing new or fashionable clothing or simply because they dress differently than the other kids. With uniforms, all students will fit in and no one will be singled out as strange or different because of their clothes.
Supporters of school uniforms also believe that students who wear uniforms have better academic results. Because students will be focused only on their studies and not on their clothes, their grades will go up. They will spend less time on picking out clothes and more on doing their homework. Wearing uniforms also makes students feel like they are professionals: wearing official clothing puts students in the right mindset to work hard and behave well.
School uniforms can also increase feelings of school unity and pride. When students are all wearing the same outfit, they feel a sense of unity and group identity that can make school spirit stronger. School spirit can set the tone for improving many aspects of the school. Students will work harder and behave better if they are not just thinking about themselves, but also thinking about how their actions affect the school as a whole. If school uniforms make students feel this school pride, the overall achievement level of the school will increase and problems will decrease.
Another reason given by those who support school uniforms is that when students wear uniforms to school, this will decrease their feelings of being in competition with each other. All families are different: some have more money to spend on nice clothes and some don’t have very much. Students wearing uniforms do not feel that they need to keep up with the clothing other students are wearing and do not feel embarrassment about their own clothing. A uniform means all students see each other as equals and do not judge based on whether they can afford fancy clothing.
Many supporters of school uniforms also say that school uniforms are helpful to poorer families because they will spend less money on clothing. Buying clothing for the new school year can be expensive, especially for families that have more than child! Parents have to buy a variety of shirts, trousers, dresses, and skirts, in addition to shoes and accessories to go with them all. Uniforms, many experts explain, make back-to-school shopping less expensive because instead of buying a large amount of different clothing, parents only have to buy a few outfits. This means that families with less money will not have a hard time buying their children proper clothing in addition to school supplies.
On the other hand, there are many good reasons for not having uniforms in schools. Many experts claim that school uniforms simply are not effective as a means of changing student behavior or academic achievement. Some people claim that uniforms reduce discipline problems and raise grades, but other experts say that this has not been proven or is simply not true. They explain that if teachers and school officials want to make these changes, there are other rules and policies to change that will be more effective. Some studies even show that school uniforms can make these problems even worse.
Another reason many people are against instituting school uniforms is that students simply do not like them. Students think that uniforms are ugly, uncomfortable, and boring. They do not like being forced to wear clothing that they did not choose. Most students do not want to wear uniforms and, if they could, would rather go to a school that does not require them. This means that schools that do require uniforms could see enrollment go down as students choose an option that they like better.
Clothing is not disruptive, many students and teachers point out, so how can it cause a problem in school? Clothing does not make noise or stop students from learning. Wearing their own clothes allows students to share their thoughts without interfering with educational opportunities. Because students’ self-expression on clothing generally does not disrupt class, uniforms are inefficient and unnecessary and require school officials to be worried about what everyone is wearing.
One more reason to be cautious about school uniforms is that they can restrict freedom of expression. Freedom of expression is guaranteed to all Americans in the First Amendment of the Constitution, and some scholars think that uniforms harm the freedom of students to express themselves. This freedom of expression is an important value, and schools should teach students this value, not restrict it.
Self-expression is also important to students because it gives them a chance to explore and develop their personalities. Telling students what they have to wear instead of letting them choose will stop this, and may harm students’ as they try to figure out who they are as they grow up. When children select their own clothing, they are able to develop confidence and independence. Growing up is a time of self-exploration and identity development, and school uniforms would not let students explore in this way.
Some educators and parents also point out that school uniforms can actually lead to families having to spend more money on clothing, not less. If students do not have uniforms, they explain, each parent can choose how much money to spend on clothing for their children. Families with more money can spend more, and families with less money can spend less. Uniforms, on the other hand, have one set cost, but a family with less money to spend on clothing will still have to spend this amount, whether they can afford it or not. This may mean they have less money to spend on other important school supplies.