Uniforms have been a hot issue for a long time. The supporters offer a range of benefits brought in by the enforced dress code. Nevertheless, many of their arguments are questionable and introduce restrictions instead of improving the situation. The absence of strict dress code, on the other hand, has certain benefits.
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The first argument that is often used to support the school uniforms states that they promote the sense of community and evoke pride for the school. Students bearing the symbols of the establishment have a stronger sense of affiliation and commitment. Besides, the uniform strengthens tradition and benefits the creates the overall positive impression among students. However, it is important to understand that the school community is not characterized by its exterior. Currently, the emphasis is put at the comprehension and acceptance of intrinsic values of education rather than its visual manifestation. Besides, growing evidence suggests that students actually dislike the uniforms. In this light, the community spirit and pride appear to be the result of wishful thinking of the proponents rather than an established fact.
It is also often mentioned that school uniform contributes to discipline and by extension improves students’ performance. This is mostly attributed to the fact that students presumably stop caring about their appearance and focus on study instead. Besides, the uniform is less ambiguous than a set of plain clothes and thus is easier to control. However, we must remember that in this case, the discipline is improved through conformity. In the age where diversity is a permeating theme in education, such decision becomes questionable at best. While it is possible that standardization saves time, it does so by cutting the possible choices and thus restricting students to thinking inside the box. Besides, there is little evidence that would conclusively connect the improvement in student performance to using the uniform in the establishment.
The supporters of the uniform also suggest that its use decreases social and financial gap among students. According to this view, since there are no means of signaling one’s wealth through clothing or jewelry, the overall social climate improves thanks to the equality. Unfortunately, there are several inconsistencies in this assumption. First, the equality, in this case, is achieved through restriction, not through active choice. It is artificial and thus flawed. Such equality rarely results in positive and friendly climate. Second, such approach limits the students’ means for self-expression. While giving students the possibility to choose their appearance may result in some instances of imposing superiority, it will also let them express personality and individuality. In such a setting, equality may be more difficult to achieve, but will be the result of active choice rather than the externally imposed rule. Finally, as uniforms are often enforced to bridge the gap, such policy occurs more often in locales with higher social disparities. As a result, over time they may become associated with poverty and social inequity, aggravating the issue they were intended to mend.
Finally, the proponents often suggest that parents can save money by buying one simple outfit instead of constantly updating the selection of clothes. This, again, is a questionable assumption, as the standard dress-code – an alternative to the uniform – is never expensive to maintain and can be in some cases a cheaper alternative.
To conclude, the benefits of the uniform, such as improved discipline, pride, sense of community, and performance, are all based on restricting the students’ individuality and choice. Besides, under close inspection, none of these benefits is supported by reliable evidence. On the other hand, the absence of uniforms promotes personality, diversity, creativity, and open-mindedness at least to some degree. More importantly, it does so by opening up new possibilities instead of limiting them. Thus, enforcing uniforms at schools is not recommended..