Since completing university, Paul has worked as a bookseller, librarian, and freelance writer. Born in the UK, he now lives in Florida.
One topic of debate that never ceases to polarize concerns the relative advantages and disadvantages of having children and young people wear school uniforms.
Uniforms for a long time seemed to be disappearing, but in recent years they have made a comeback in a big way, along with stricter dress codes generally.
People in favor of school uniforms tend to see them as instilling a sense of pride and belonging, as well as making it easier to identify which school a student attends; whereas people against uniforms often portray them as stifling individuality and imposing an unnecessary formality on children.
Below are the main for and against arguments that are used by people in the debate. I hope that you find my pros and cons lists to be useful and interesting.
8 School Uniforms Pros
- A school uniform can encourage pride and adherence to the school ethos, as well as encourage school unity.
- It can be cheaper for parents to pay for a uniform than stock up with a wardrobe full of trendy clothes for their teenager or pre-teen. This is beneficial to everyone, but especially parents, young people, and children from economically challenged backgrounds.
- Likewise, there is less competition between kids and young people themselves over clothing, if they all have to wear the same thing. Plus kids from more economically challenged backgrounds are not made fun of if they are not wearing the latest, most expensive clothes.
- School uniforms mean that it is easy to identify which school that a kid goes to. This can encourage children to behave, say, when they are traveling to and from school, as it makes it easier for outsiders to complain to a school about a student’s behavior.
- They can also save time in the mornings as no decisions need to be made over what to wear.
- Rather like work clothes, they define when kids should be working and following the school ethos. Likewise, they also prepare kids for the world of work, where uniforms and dress standards are often desired or expected.
- Other allegiances, such as gangs, music and fashion subcultures that can be signified by clothing are wiped out during the school day, with the uniform demonstrating that loyalty to the school and its ethos are the only priority during school time.
- School uniforms make dress codes much easier to enforce, because all students can be held to exactly the same standards.
5 School Uniforms Cons
- Individuality is stifled, as students are forced to follow the uniformity of the group. Schools should be about creativity and teachers acknowledging, understanding and nurturing the unique talents of each student. Uniforms send out the wrong message and hark back to an earlier age when learning was done by rote and schools were far more formal and less personal places.
- School uniforms can cost more for parents, especially when a kid first starts at a school and need everything buying at once. Plus school uniforms are very specific clothes for a specific purpose and can’t be used for general use like most other clothing.
- They can actually make it harder to identify individual kids if there’s a crime, an accident or an emergency, as identifying someone by the clothes that they are wearing is often useful, but not possible when all are dressed the same.
- They can make fights between schools more likely. Uniforms can lead to tribalism and exasperate rivalries between local schools, sometimes in very negative ways.
- Generally speaking, the business world and workplaces are actually becoming more and more relaxed about workers dressing casually, so schools should follow suit and do the same.
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What Percentage of Schools Wear Uniforms in the US?
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, just under 20% of US school children in total are subject to a school uniform mandate.
10 percent of public high schools, 19 percent of middle schools, and 22 percent of primary schools require that students wear uniforms.
New Orleans (95%), Cleveland (85%), and Chicago (80%) are the cities which use uniforms the most.
The uniform makes for brotherhood, since when universally adopted it covers up all differences of class and country.
— Robert Baden-Powell
Where Did School Uniforms Originate?
England was the first place to have school uniforms. Their first recorded use was in 1222 and took the form of a robe-like outfit known as a "cappa clausa".
England was also the first place to have modern school uniforms, beginning in the 16th century.
The United States has historically taken a more relaxed view towards uniforms. Until recently, the only American schools where uniforms were required were private institutions.
Famous School Uniform Wearers
- Angus Young, lead guitarist with Australian rock band, AC/DC performs live on stage wearing a school uniform.
- Students who attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling must wear uniforms bearing the Hogwarts coat of arms.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2014 Paul Goodman