The idea of uniforms started a few centuries ago, and the first educational place to use them was Christ’s Hospital in the United Kingdom in the 16th century (Baumann and Krskova 1005). Nowadays, different stakeholders in the education sector such as the parents, administrators, educators, leaders, teachers, the community or public, and above all the students themselves have varied opinions on whether to wear or not to wear uniforms by the students. There is a heated debate over adoption of a formal dress code policy in learning institutions. When that is going on, meanwhile the education standards in the majority of schools are something of concern. They are below expectations of many. There are numerous cases of student indiscipline, poor attendance, and negative attitudes among other discouraging things. One may ask when the rain started beating us. Everyone should go back to the drawing board and review some of the education policies that have been neglected and yet very impactful such as the policy on wearing uniforms. This paper discusses pertinent points that justify the need for students to wear uniforms. Most of the education needs in schools can be easily attainable when the uniforms are made compulsory and part and parcel of school culture (Brookshire 66).
School uniforms provide a powerful statement of belongingness among the learners in various ways. Many children enjoy this rite of passage from home to school especially when they are joining the school for the first time. There is a sense of excitement putting that unique garment that identifies one to a particular community of students. There is that feeling of oneness when students are in uniforms unlike when they are in home clothing. The value of a community is enhanced when they all appear the same without contradictions regarding the mode of dressing. Regardless of their home backgrounds and family status in the society, student uniforms are the common denominator. It bonds them to feel like one big family that shares common challenges and successes. Apart from the aspect of belongingness, the learners also develop self-esteem. The uniforms help to foster self-esteem among students whereby the external differences among them are dissipated (Spencer par.4). Also, it is reported that uniforms aid in reducing poor attendance of learners attributed to inferiority and others making fun of those students from lower class families. Those who are truants and tend to evade school can easily be spotted or identified by the public when in uniform and appropriate action is taken.
School uniforms help in reducing social pressures among the students. That is said so because most teenagers are at a developmental stage of social identity where they examine themselves and what they want to achieve. That coincides with them trying to compare themselves with their peers. On top of the list of things they compare themselves with are the dresses. Some force their parents to spend so much on clothing to appease and look fashionable before their friends and peers. School uniforms can help the learners mostly in high schools to resist the peer pressure of purchasing trendy clothes. The uniform policy has helped to curb social pressures among many students. According to the US Education Department, about 49% of the US public schools in 2014 supported the idea of a formal dress policy or uniforms (Brookshire 12). It should be remembered that the uniform trend began in earnest in the 1980s and picked up momentum in the 1990s.There were many cases of gang violence related to dress and hence the need to adopt a formal dress policy.
It is also widely reported that students who wear uniforms are more disciplined than those who do not. School uniforms have a psychological impact on the minds of students that they are bound by a common code of ethics and rules. It instills a mental entitlement to obey what the institution demands of them. In fact, most surveys have revealed that schools that do not have a formal dress code policy are the ones that lead in student unrests or indiscipline cases. It has been discovered that students who wear uniforms listen better and are ready to comply with what is required of them (Baumann and Krskova 1003).The students tend to pay attention to instructions given to them by the administration and the teachers hence boosting discipline levels. It can be remembered that the former US president Bill Clinton provided the momentum for school uniforms in his famous state of the union speech in 1996 (Wilde par.4). That was heightened by increased violence in public schools because of designer jackets. School uniforms are therefore a necessity to curb violence and enhance student discipline.
About the point of discipline, it can also be concluded that uniforms help to develop or nurture favorable personalities in students. As the students wear uniforms, they learn how to comply with the school rules or regulations. In the long run that helps in shaping their personalities. They become law-abiding citizens as they step out there in the society. That cannot be said with the same breath for non-uniformed students. Most of them are easily lured into drugs and gang violence (Reynolds 36).
If there is one thing that has become an issue in the society today is the issue of social class variance. Not all students come from similar social class backgrounds. Some come from wealthy families, middle class, and others from low-income families. In most public schools, there is mixed demographics regarding the social class status of students. If they are allowed to wear home clothes, then there will be a discrepancy in their clothing. It is the school uniforms that help to reduce the economic and social barriers among the students (Wilde par.6).It bridges the social gap mindset that the students are different. It makes them perceive one another as sister and brother from one family regardless of their home social status backgrounds. It is a leveler of children from all social class backgrounds.
Students should also have to wear a uniform because it identifies them as students and not just an ordinary person in the society. It promotes both student and school identity. That blazer, that shirt, those pants or sweaters are the ones that each school is identified with. A student in uniform is likely to evade danger or be protected by the members of the public in case of trouble. Students in uniforms are given priority in public places because of the identity portrayed by the uniform. Well, designed school uniforms enhance pride in the students to continue being identified with such a school. It makes the learners take pride in how they look like. There is that team identity that is developed when the students are in uniform. They identify themselves with the successes and challenges that their school faces. It influences psychological urge that promotes synergy and working together among the teaching staff, management, and the students.
It has also been confirmed by various student responses that uniforms help them to save time. That comes about in the morning when they have to dress and come to school. In comparison to home clothing, they do not have to waste time to decide on what to wear every day. Most teenagers especially girls are cautious of how they appear in public (Baumann and Krskova 1011).They may waste time grooming in the morning to appear presentable. That contributes to lateness and ultimately poor performance. Those with identity crisis will spend so much time to get it right in fashion sense. Time management is a crucial component for achievement in life. Uniforms help the students to focus more on academics rather than on their appearance which saves time.
Several studies have revealed that there is a strong correlation between school uniforms and the performance of students. Students who wear uniforms are more disciplined than their non-uniformed counterparts in most schools. Both discipline and academic success complement each other. It, therefore, translates that uniformed student’s pay more focus on their academic performance than in their clothing outlook. Those who do not wear uniforms waste time and energy by investing so much in their clothes and how they will appear in them. School uniforms are a student motivator in learning. They create that psychological feeling that the students have a common objective which is to excel in their studies. The uniforms aid the students to remain focused and avoid distracters that may be influenced by non-formal dress codes (Spencer par.7).
When it comes to safety matters, the school uniforms aid in alleviating intruders who may have wrong intentions in the school compound. The students in uniforms will make it easy for an intruder to be identified and appropriate action is taken. There have been many cases of shootings in US schools recently. That points to the fact that there is a security lapse somewhere. Home clothing can easily be used to conceal firearms and other crude weapons, hence the need to promote uniforms in the learning institutions.
During these hard economic times, no parent would want to spend extra money on clothing to appease or fall into the demands of their children. The home clothing encourages students to compete on the latest fashion trends which are arguably expensive for the parents. Parents of students who do not wear uniforms have to set aside a huge budget for new outfits the entire academic year. The changes in weather and fashion trends influence their frequency of purchase. In other words, wearing uniforms is cost-effective, and the saved money can be used on other vital errands. Normally two or three sets of uniforms are required in a single year at an affordable price, unlike the many clothes that would be demanded by the non-uniformed students at high prices.
In conclusion, this paper is of the opinion that students should wear school uniforms and that all the stakeholders in the education sector should positively support the formal dress code policy in schools. The notion that academic success is in mind and not in appearance is invalid based on recent research findings in psychology. There is a huge impact that uniforms play in psychologically influencing a sense of purpose and commitment to academic success, which is paramount than anything in school. All the points discussed to justify the reasons why students should wear uniforms. The formal dress code improves the climate of a school and thus enhances its academic performance. The benefits of school uniforms are numerous, and therefore it should be embraced by all and sundry. The idea of a school uniform cannot be thrown away because the uniforms play a massive role in the lives of the students.
- Baumann, Chris, and Hana Krskova. School discipline, school uniforms and academic performance. International Journal of Educational Management, Vol. 30 Issue: 6, pp.1003-1029,2016 .
- The journal written by the two authors is used in this discussion because it was research-based and therefore the data is more relevant and reflects what currently is happening to schools.
- Brookshire, Attillah. The Impact of School Uniforms on School Climate. Dissertation, Walden University,2016, Accessed 22 Jan2018, http://scholarworks.waldenu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3352&context=dissertations
- The source is used in this discussion because it is a scholarly work that has been reviewed by a University panel. It is comprehensive in tackling all the positive aspects of school uniforms.
- Reynolds, Bart A. Analysis of the evidence produced by qualitative research on The Effects of school uniforms on student discipline and academic achievement. Ed.D. Dissertation, Brighman Young University, United States-Utah,2005.Print.
- This source is beneficial in the discussion because it provides deep insights on two major impacts of uniforms in areas of discipline and education performance.
- Spencer, Chloe. What’s the point of school uniform? The Guardian ,2013, Accessed 22 January 2018, https://www.theguardian.com/education/mortarboard/2013/oct/03/why-wear-school-uniform
- This newspaper article provides the perspective of the student herself in this topical issue that places students at the center of the discussion.
- Wilde, Marian. Do uniforms make schools better? Great Schools Organization,2017, Accessed 22 January 2018, https://www.greatschools.org/gk/articles/school-uniforms/
- The source is enriching by providing briefly both the negative and positive aspects of uniforms. It has outlined the points for an easy read and comprehension.