A study on the Controversy behind School Uniforms

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1st Jan 1970 Education Reference this


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Should students wear uniforms at schools or not? About 30 years ago school uniforms were very popular at schools. Later, uniforms became old fashioned and students stopped wearing them. Photos from our parents’ school times and old films still remind us about school uniforms. Surprisingly, today more and more schools are starting to require their students to wear uniforms. Nonetheless, the major controversy behind uniform wearing remains present at schools among students, their parents and school administration.

The discussions about the effectiveness of school uniforms started after USA President Clinton’s 1996 State of the Union Address, in which he discussed school uniforms as one of the solutions to school environmental problems (Viadero 1). He stated that school uniforms are a possible cure for school’s ills (Viadero 1). Mostly, school administration agrees with the idea that uniforms reduce some problems at schools such as violence and theft, gang attire and clothing-related conflicts (Daugherty 391). When students wear uniforms they all become similar, so they cannot make fun of those students who wear less fashionable clothes. Students become more focused on their studies than on each other’s closing (Walmsley 64). The atmosphere at schools becomes more respectful. Also, since all of the students from the same school are required to wear the same uniforms, teachers can more easily differentiate its own students from strangers. Moreover, school administrations support the implementation of uniforms at schools because by wearing them students can relate to each other better, for they feel that they all are part of the community (Walmsley, 64). This feeling reduces violence in the streets. If a student commits a crime it is easy to identify, which school he/she is attending and, thus, it becomes easier to find him/her. Also, wearing uniforms is beneficial because when the student sees other student from his/her school that is in a trouble and needs help, it is more likely that the student will help because of the same community and friendship.

Parents also mostly support uniform policy at schools because it, in fact, requires less money than buying new clothes every season (Walmsley 64). There are many families who do not have money for new fashionable clothes, therefore they are more likely to place their children in the school, where uniforms are required. Most of the parents want that their children feel comfortable and equal at school, thus they are for similarity. In the United Kingdom every school requires to wear uniforms (Walmsley 64). Children’s job is to attend school, and just as their parents have to wear appropriate clothing at work, students also must wear uniforms at schools (Walmsley 64). Parents rather prefer to buy a few shirts, trousers, skirts, tights and a blazer, all of which are parts of uniform, than to buy many different clothes. Uniforms reduce the stress level in family caused by lack of money for fashionable closing.

However, students have an opposite position about school uniforms – they hate it. Students always like to be free of rules and different regulations and they want to express themselves using their appearance (Pakhare). School uniforms is a big barrier to do that. They fell that uniforms take away this form of expression from them. Also, they argue that it is uncomfortable for them and that they feel like robots (Viadero, 4). In addition, students feel lack of freedom of choice (Pakhare). Teachers always teach them about free countries, freedoms and rights of choice. So, they feel that they have to follow the rules and, thus, implementation of uniforms seems unfair to them. They definitely are against uniforms at schools.

There was some research done on the effectiveness of school uniforms in 1996 by David L. Brunsma, at the University of Missouri-Columbia (Brunsma 72). His research results were surprisingly opposite to the arguments that school uniforms have an effect on students’ behavior. He states, “The uniform policies do not curb violence or behavioral problems in schools. They do not cultivate student self-esteem and motivation. They do not balance the social-status differences that often separate students. And they do not improve academic achievement. (Viadero 1)” The research results show that school uniforms are not the solution for school problems.

There are some schools, however, that rather than strictly imposing the uniform policy, want to find a compromise between the wishes of students, parents and school administration, thus they established dress codes at schools (Walmsley 64). Students, who assert that uniforms limit their ability to express themselves, like dress codes because they can dress closely to the way they want. They just have to take away some brand names or unpleasant apparel that satisfies the school district (Pakhare). In fact, there also are limitations for writings phrases on bags and clothes. Dress codes might be more acceptable for students because it is not as strict as uniforms are. However, it takes a lot of time of the councils of schools and teachers to check the students’ appearance (Walmsley 66). There are some cases when it is difficult to identify weather the clothing follows the rules or is over the limitations. Also, dress code, just like wearing a uniform, limits students’ rights to choose what they want to wear at school.

Despite the results of David L. Brunsma research that the school uniforms do not have any effect on schools’ environment, I support the requirement for uniforms at schools and I still think that it has some effects. One personal example leads me to think in this way. My sister is studying at school in the suburb of the city and there are many poor students. She tells me that others reject these students because of their poor appearance. After experiencing the rejection, these students become covert and prefer to be alone rather than to communicate with other students. However, this year the administration of the school established uniform policy in this school and it is working now. I asked my sister about these children, did they change their behavior and she told me that now they have more self-esteem to come and sit by other students, to ask questions and even share their opinion together. I was surprised that clothes and appearance can have such an effect on children. In my opinion, the presidents of all countries should make a law to establish uniform policies in every school. It could help for many poor children to develop their personalities.

However, I am certainly against the idea of dress codes. I agree that it is a compromise between students and school administration, but, in my opinion, dress code causes many misunderstandings. It is better to establish strict rules for uniforms than every day to stare at the students weather they are following the rules or ignoring it. People are different so they have different understanding about clothes, and dress codes can cause many discussions and conflicts between students and school administration, such as trying to figure out which one student breaks the dress code system and which one does not.

All in all, school uniforms mostly are accepted by school administrations and parents, while student do not want to obey this policy. However, students are not always able to understand what is really better for them; they just do not want to be limited by rules. There are many advantages of wearing uniforms, which the adults see, and, according to students, just some disadvantages, including lack of comfort while moving. At this age, adults are still responsible for the students, so I think they have to decide should or should not students wear school uniforms.

Work Cited

Brunsma, David L., and Kerry Ann Rockquemore. “Statistics, Sound Bites, and School Uniforms: A Reply to Bodine.” Journal of Educational Research 97.2 (2003): 72-77.EBSCO. Web. 20 Apr. 2011.

Daugherty, Richard F. “Leadership in Action: Piloting a School Uniform Program.” Education 123.2 (2002): 390. EBSCO. Web. 20 Apr. 2011.

Pakhare, Jayashree. “Facts against School Uniforms.” Web. 20 Apr. 2011. http://www.buzzle.com/articles/facts-against-school-uniforms.html

Viadero, Debra. “Uniform Effects? Schools Cite Benefits of Student Uniforms, but Researchers See Little Evidence of Effectiveness.” Education Week 24.18 (2005): 27-29. EBSCO. Web. 22 Apr. 2011.

Walmsley, Angela. “What the United Kingdom Can Teach the United States About School Uniforms.” Phi Delta Kappan 92.6 (2011): 63-66. EBSCO. Web. 20 Apr. 2011.

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