See if you agree with these arguments from someone who wore one for over a decade!
As a new school year beckons, kids everywhere will be readying themselves for the classroom. In addition to buying school supplies, parents will be trying to find their children the perfect school attire — which is a lot easier said than done. But I have the perfect solution: the school uniform.
I know, I know, I’m treading in dangerous waters here. It’s a bone of contention among many parents and children alike. However, I think I have a few solid arguments based on personal experience (although I’m always open to persuasion if you want to share your thoughts in the comments!).
Before I start I should point out that I’m British, and I appreciate that there are a few cultural differences with my brothers and sisters across the pond.
1No peer pressure
This is an obvious point often cited by the pro-uniform camp, but I think it’s worth reiterating. I wore a uniform from the age of 5 to the age of 16. Often gray — a color I hate — and always with a shirt, pleated skirt, pullover, tie and a blazer. I also had to wear lace up shoes in a particular style. Slightly hardcore? Well, I loved it, and so did my mom, who had seven other kids to clothe.
We never had a lot of money to spend on the latest brands. And even if we had, my parents would not have encouraged us to indulge in them. So our uniforms were a bit of a godsend. We went to school every morning and there were no questions asked. There was always a familiar sea of kids bobbing along, dressed identically.
I appreciate that children feel peer pressure in numerous ways, but taking school clothes out of the equation is always helpful.
Again, this argument is often raised with varying opinions. But in England, public schools are encouraged to have uniforms that come at a minimum cost to families. There is also help given to low income families in certain circumstances.
So, for example, in the summer many schools require girls to wear a gingham summer dress that can be bought for about $7. These dresses are worn for a good three months, and five days a week. That’s certainly not bad. And often these clothes are passed down to younger siblings.
You know all those arguments that kids have when they don’t want to wear a certain item of clothing? Well, with a school uniform there is no choice! For five days a week our kids know what they’re wearing, their clothes can be prepared easily, and time is saved!
4Creates a sense of identity
I went to Catholic state schools throughout my education, which are state-funded religious school — including two St. Josephs and Blessed Edward Oldcorne, a martyr who died a gruesome death. On each of my uniforms there was always the school crest. While I don’t remember the earlier ones, I vividly remember that last one with those familiar initials A.D.M.G., Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam (the only Latin I remember), or For the Greater Glory of God.
Our crest was on our tie, pullover, blazer, and schoolbag. While out and about you could not hide which school you attended — a point that was used to ensure we behaved outside of the school walls. It garnered a sense of belonging and a sense of pride in our school, and in our education. We were our own little community.
5Prepares them for the future
One thing about wearing a tie for years is that you know how to knot one very quickly. That’s certainly a skill for those who may have to wear one in the workplace. Yet, aside from the tie, the school uniform encourages us to dress for a certain purpose. When kids put on a uniform they know what is expected of them.
The classical uniform isn’t exactly comfortable and doesn’t allow you to sit back and relax. This sort of echoes the workplace where often people need to wear at least a suit, if not a tie. It reminds me of what my dad would say when discussing the importance of appearance: “Dress for the job you want, not what you have.”
And perhaps after COVID, where people really embraced loungewear and sneakers, a little more formal wear would be a welcome comeback. Again, I imagine, people will say that you don’t have to be dressed smartly to perform well. This is true; after all, look at billionaires such as Mark Zuckerburg.
However, I think for impressionable young minds, uniforms allow them to stay more focused.
6Encourages them to follow rules
Again, this is slightly contentious, but I feel it is important. The one thing about uniforms in England is that there are often strict penalties applied if pupils don’t conform. So, if skirts get rolled up too high, teachers will be there to remind kids to lower them. In fact, if a skirt, or even a haircut, is too short, children may be sent home.
This may sound a little strict, but the policies are in place to help kids respect the school rules and to encourage pupils to respect themselves and their appearance.
And in response to those who question a child’s ability to express themselves …
I’ve often heard that children should be encouraged to express their personalities through their clothing, and a uniform restricts their self-expression. Pardon me for sounding British here, but I say that’s a load of poppycock!
Our self-identity is much more than the clothes we wear, and uniforms are only for school hours. Kids still have plenty of time outside of the classroom to wear what they want. Our children have a myriad of ways to express themselves and their personalities, and that’s something parents should encourage.