There are many advantages and disadvantages to school uniforms, and sometimes things vary depending on who is arguing; in most cases, however, the discussion centers on uniforms can create a serious learning environment, whether they can promote equality and possibly reduce bullying, and whether they influence children’s ideas of self-expression and conformity. Critics who speak well on both sides of uniform conversation and something that is a “pro” for one person may be a “con” for another.
Create a Serious Professional Environment
Much of the research in support of school uniforms says that requiring children to wear the same will actually increase test results and better learning. When children do not have to think about what they are wearing they may be less distracted, which can help them focus more on tasks at hand. When everyone is dressed nicely and professionally the classroom takes on a more serious feel, too. Young people who approach learning as more of an honor than a burden tend to perform better, and some argue that uniforms can achieve this.
Potential to reduce bullying
School uniforms can reduce bullying and teasing as well. When everyone is wearing the same, it is not so easy to pick people out to be different, at least not on the surface. A certain amount of teasing and bullying is bound to happen to young people, but uniforms can sometimes seem daunting. This in turn promotes a healthier, safer learning environment where students are not afraid to be themselves and take risks. Children may also feel less peer pressure to wear certain types or brands of clothing.
One of the most talked about “pros” of school uniforms is their ability to create a level playing field. This is especially important in schools where students come from different socio-economic backgrounds. Poor children dress the same as their wealthy counterparts in such situations, which reduces the stigma and can help children focus on what they have in common instead of the things about their lives that are different.
Risk of self-expression
Uniform opponents often argue that forcing children to dress in the same way can limit their self-expression, and possibly stunt their creativity. According to some researchers, students in these settings may look for other, often less acceptable, ways to establish their identity. Girls may be more likely to wear makeup early, for example, or shorten their skirts to look provocative; Boys can resort to extreme accessories or sometimes change their uniforms to stand out from others. Drug use, smoking, and other forms of rioting have been seen in both genders.
Messages About Race
According to some, standardized clothing may also send a message that it is acceptable to comply with standards imposed by others. This is not always a “con”, but certainly could be in some cases. Children who grow up feeling empowered may have trouble later asserting themselves or standing up for values different from those imposed from the top. Free societies usually place a lot of emphasis on individualism and self-government, and young people who are too willing to comply can find it difficult to succeed in these environments.
Longevity and Garment Quality
Arguments about actual consistent quality can be both a pro or a con, depending on the circumstances. When the garments are made well, of solid material and with quality, workmanship, they will often last for many years and will withstand more washing. This is usually a positive thing, since it means that children can get a lot of wear out of them and parents don’t have to spend so much on clothes. When the material is shoddy but or when it does not wash well, it can pose problems.
- School uniforms can help students do well academically, but can prevent self-expression.
- School uniforms can send a message that it is okay to adapt.
- Uniforms can level the playing field between rich and poor students.
- Wearing the same thing can deter students from teasing.
- Critics claim that mandating that students wear a uniform can stifle creativity.