In the US, many public school systems are requiring their students to wear uniforms with the aim to enhance overall performance of children and to reduce their negative behavior. But like other things, standardized school clothing has also become a hot topic in national debates with experts having opposing arguments and taking their stands. To come up with good insight on this subject, let us take a look at its pros and cons.
List of Pros of Wearing School Uniforms
1. It improves academic outcomes.
There is a lot of educators believing that schoolchildren who wear uniforms show better academic performance. In fact, study shows a slight improvement in the grades of students who wear uniforms. Without uniforms, students are seen to be often focused on what they wear that it can distract them from learning, and some experts believe that a mandatory uniform policy would eliminate such a distraction and enhance student attention. Also, they believe that uniforms set a more serious atmosphere that is conducive to learning. Furthermore, it is found that school uniforms have improved attendance.
2. It improves the social aspect among schoolchildren.
According to experts, uniforms have improved the social aspect in a school environment. Often, fashion and clothing could become the root of social conflict, where some children are ridiculed by their peers because of the way they dress. Many of them use clothing to define and express themselves, which often lead to the formation of cliques in schools. Also, students feel to be judged based on their clothing by others and even teachers and administrators. Well, uniforms are believed to have the capability to remove this trend, thus relieving students from the pressure of fitting in. Experts believe that an improved social environment through mandatory standardized dress can improve both academic and behavioral outcomes.
3. It helps make better children’s attitudes.
Generally, it is thought that schoolchildren who wear uniforms would behave more appropriately in the campus. It is believed that uniforms dictate a stricter atmosphere and that those who wear them are more likely to abide by school policies. In fact, the Department of Education maintains that making standardized dress codes compulsory reduces school violence.
4. It is cost-effective.
In many cases, using school uniforms has allowed families to get more savings, as they do not need to buy trendy and expensive clothing for their children to wear at school. Also, uniforms are made to last and can be easily washed frequently, so after the initial investment you make when you buy them, there is no need to spend as much money on school clothing.
5. It can teach discipline.
While a lot of jobs do not require wearing uniforms, others do. So, if your children are growing up to become checkout assistants or nurses, then they should get used to putting on the same uniform day in and out.
6. It can enforce a positive attitude.
In a work environment, people wear smart clothes even though, normally, wearing uniforms is not required. Even among the self-employed, they are still trying to dress as though they were going to an office. This is because it will make them feel professional and, in turn, will encourage them to produce better-quality work each day. The same goes for schoolchildren; if they are in uniforms, they would a lot classier than they would with shirts.
List of Cons of Wearing School Uniforms
1. It hinders self-expression.
Some sociology experts and educators argue that requiring schoolchildren to wear uniforms would hinder their self-expression, which is an important part of child development. Also, they believe that that these students would only find other less-appropriate ways to express themselves, such as inappropriate use of jewelry and make-up.
2. It restricts individuality.
Some experts say that public education systems attempt to strip children of their individuality by forcing them to wear uniforms, believing that they do not meet the needs of these students who do not fall in the norm. They also add that uniforms attempt to coerce students into one mold, seeing the standard dress as another way to remove individuality among schoolchildren who should be celebrating and embracing diversity. They believe that it is not really in the best interest of children to try to control socialization, which is a part of human nature, and that school uniforms would not prepare students for the real world, where they will be judged by the way they look.
3. It means additional expenses for clothing.
Though they are seen as cost-effective by proponents, opponents think that school uniforms would increase the amount of clothing parents will have to buy for their children. In some cases, these pieces of standardized clothing can be more expensive for those who used to buy from second-hand stores or those who rely on hand-me-down clothes from family and friends. Plus, cost is definitely a negative aspect of school uniforms in the sense that they cannot be used outside of school.
4. It can be uncomfortable.
Varying kinds of clothing normally feel comfortable to different people. Considering that some children are more comfortable in a specific style or material of clothing, uniforms would reduce their ability to choose clothes that fit their individual comfort needs. And to maximize their learning, experts believe that schoolchildren should feel comfortable.
5. It delays children’s transition into adulthood.
Teenagers need self-identification and expression to make the leap into adulthood, and by forcing them to wear school uniforms, they are limited with the ability to express themselves, which might delay their transition into adulthood. Study shows that the only benefits from wearing school uniforms would end once students leave middle school, and there was nothing to it for high school.
Basing on the pros and cons listed above, there might be no easy answer to whether schoolchildren should wear uniforms or not. At the end of the day, it just boils down to your own philosophies. If you are a parent or a person in charge of uniforms at your school, then you should try thinking outside the box and end the age old debate. By being creative, perhaps you can satisfy both sides of this story to some degree.
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Master's Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years.