Tuesday, August 3, 2010

More Than A Matter of Style

About 20% of public schools have made the jump to some sort of school uniform, standardized attire or strict dress code. The debate has been somewhat of a hot subject for several years now. The debate on whether the uniform system has a direct impact on improving student behavior, or whether it actually does create a better environment for students and teachers is still on going. Both sides of this debate have some valid points.

Starting with the pros of the uniform system. Some parents simply enjoy the guess work being removed from the pre-school shopping and even the their morning routines. A percentage of parents just agree that is makes their household run smoother in the morning rush. This seems to be particularly true in households with older children. The experts for the Pro side of the debate believe that uniforms within the school system help children to focus more on learning and less on who is wearing what. School standardized attire may also relieve the pressure students feel trying to fit in. Thus improving the social environment in the school atmosphere. School officials also say that uniform systems improve safety. For example students all dressed in similar clothing helps school officials and teachers recognize if someone comes on campus who doesn't belong. Experts also believe mandatory use of such a dress code reduces violence/bullying with the school.

Now lets move over to the other side of the debate, the cons. One of the largest arguments on the con side is self expression and individuality. Since self expression is an important part of a child's developmental process, some experts believe that forcing uniforms is detrimental to a child's development. The results of this system are often forcing students to find other, often less appropriate ways to express themselves. Experts also conclude the stripping children of individuality with the use of uniforms is another way to force all students into one mold, when they should be celebrating and embracing individuality. They believe that school uniforms does not truly prepare children for the real world in which they will continue to be judged by their appearances and the choices they make within their own lives.

Experts on the Con side also argue over the fact that they believe that the Pros are not really Pros. Advocates of school uniforms say that freeing a student of fashion pressures will allow them to focus on school studies, but there is little conclusive evidence to back up this argument. The experts on the con side of the debate argue that there are more influential factors than what a student wears like study habits, parental support, classroom material, and instructional quality. Cost of school uniform systems is actually argued on both sides. Pro side saying it saves families money since the school attire is sold at discounted prices and is much cheaper than fashionable name brand clothing. While the Con side says it cost families more because most families will buy two sets of clothing for their children one being the school attire and the other a more fashionable set of clothing that suit their children's personalities for nonschool hours.

It is true that both sides of this debate have great valid points with expert opinions. To which side of the school uniform debate do you and your family tend to lean?

Special note: This article was also published in the Cookevilletimes.com


Red Hen (dette) said...

An interesting post! I teach in primary schools in Western Australia, where uniforms are encouraged or expected but not technically or actually enforcable. Although I am personally a non conformist when it comes to clothing- I was as a Teenager what my firend and I referd to as Pink Punk - we took bits and pieces from all the fashions past present and made up ourselves I am actually a supporter of the uniform at school but not a strict you must have this kind of socks and that kind of skirt. I think there needs to be a selection of styles within the school colours to allow for bodyshapes style, eg a girl who is a tomboy should have the option to wear sporty shorts and T's where the girly girls might prefer the dress option. I taught at a very low socioecanomic school where it was impractical to expect that children all come to school in official uniform just getting them to school was important. We had a very successful secondhand uniform shop and even arriving at school in a cheap $3 Kmart yellow tshirt was acceptable. My daughter on the otherhand was at a school in a wealthy area- I got them into this school because we were staying with my mother when I left my husband for a while and was able to use this adress. There was a uniform in place at the school but on free dress days my daughter was ostrisised as appart from being totally disinterested in fashion-she was a comfort girl who loved to play with the boys- I was a single mother on a part time teacher's income paying a mortgage with little support from their father. The girls taunted her asking was it because she had no style or was it just because her mother was so poor.
On top of the unifying and level playing field for kids- I truely think It does remove the opportunity for bullying to some degree. I sent the kids off in their uniforms and if they got dirty or paint stained in art it didn't matter because they were school clothes and that was what school clothes were for and it wasn't their good clothes that were getting ruined. And the time saving in the morning can never be discounted in this household of non morning people. I even have a 'uniform' for school. Black pants and black t-shirts It all matches and I just chuck on a necklace or scarf to jazz it up and I'm done!
Sorry about the long reply... I talk alot!!!

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