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Differences in opinion are common in everyday life. The more controversial the issue is, the more intense the debate around them becomes. Why does this happen? One possible reason could involve the inherent biases of the people. This paper will analyze the conflicting viewpoints on the issue and will provide an insight into my personal biases that affect my judgment.
The Author’s Premises
The presented issue is focused on the school uniforms and whether they should be enforced by the school. Over the course of the previous assignment, I have stated that I do not support the enforcement of school uniforms for the following reasons. I believe that school uniforms restrict the ability of the students to express themselves. Expression is one of the most valued aspects of the human experience. In fact, it is so important that it is included in the First Amendment of the US Constitution. Therefore the skills of expression should be developed from a young age. The school is a social environment, and it can serve as the first experience of expression in a public setting. The second premise behind my opinion is school uniforms do not improve the academic aspects of the students.
Studies have shown that school uniforms have no effects on attendance or the results of exams. Moreover, a negative effect was found on the academic abilities of the students. With no clear academic benefit to the students, I cannot see the school uniforms as a good thing for the school to enforce. The last premise I chose was the extra expense uniforms would bring to the families of the students. Schools require a lot of spending by the parents. With public schools accommodating children with all socioeconomic backgrounds, this expense might become harsher depending on the economic situation of the family (McDaniel, 2013). I believe that in these situations, the students should be able to study without their families paying extra money for things that do not improve the study experience (“Should children have to wear,” 2017).
The Opponent’s Premises
School uniforms are a very controversial issue, which means that it has a lot of arguments that are presented by both sides. Out of the available opposing premises, I have chosen the following. The first is the possible use of the school uniforms as a crime deterrent. I believe that after looking at the studies that have been performed on this issue a person would be able to see school uniforms as a major positive. Every parent wants their children to be protected, so if uniforms can add protection, a parent is likely to support this viewpoint. The second opposing premise is that school uniforms help children focus on their education.
A person can arrive at this premise when arguing from a common sense point of view. Children are easily distracted, and clothes could be a major distraction in class if they are bright or feature elaborate designs. This statement can be backed up by some data, but I do not believe that it plays a large role in decision making in this case due to the larger amounts of data opposing this point of view. The final opposing premise is that school uniforms create a level playing field between the students. This is a very compelling argument because it is based on the mixed socioeconomic backgrounds of the children in public schools. It serves as a reflection of my third premise against the use of uniforms by addressing the envy and bullying the difference in clothes could bring. Children from wealthy families can afford more expensive clothes which would enable them to single out children from poorer families as bullying targets (“Should children have to wear,” 2017).
When a person judges one issue or another, a variety of biases can affect that judgment. While looking at the arguments for and against school uniforms I have encountered a few biases of my own. The two that I have found most common were the confirmation bias and the negativity bias. People are likely to surround themselves with information and points of view that agree with their point of view. Subsequently, this leads to people seeing information that agrees with their point of view as superior to other information. Due to my negative childhood experiences of wearing school uniforms in primary school, I have a negative outlook on the issue.
This could have led to me seeing data on the opposing side as more accurate than the supporting side. Bad news often receives more attention than good news, which makes people perceive the bad news as more accurate news. I have represented the negative opinion on the issue, so I have found the negatively phrased premises to be more truthful than the positive ones. However, the third opposing premise slightly changed my mind on the issue because it was connected to the same point that I was making. My school did not enforce uniforms in middle school and high school, so I was able to see how students with different economic backgrounds were often in conflict with each other due to their clothes (Elbow, 2006).
Biases have a strong effect on the opinions of people. Therefore it is important to consider the opposite point of view before making a judgment on the issue. By becoming aware of our biases, we should be able to create better arguments and ideas.
Elbow, P. (2016). The believing game and how to make conflicting opinions more fruitful. In C. Weber (Ed.), Nurturing the peacemakers in our students: A guide to writing and speaking out about issues of war and of peace (pp. 16-25). London, UK: Heinemann.
McDaniel, T. R. (2013). “Making the school uniform decision: Is it right for your school?” Kappa Delta Pi Record, 49(4), 162-167.
Should children have to wear school uniforms? (2017). Web.