Dress Codes and School Uniform Policies
Are Uniforms Old Fashioned?
How Do School Uniforms Help Students?
What is the result if all youth in K-12 wore uniforms?
School boards and parents have argued about students in K-12 being required to wear school uniforms. Several American schools have initiated and forced this requirement, while others have not.
Uniforms can seem like a major life change to students, but this change may indeed be an effective change that improves the quality of education and life at school, indicated by research all the way back to 1996 by Chuck Sambar and others.
School uniforms can be effective in a number of ways.
A Simple Uniform May Be Key
A simple uniform that includes
- conservative clothing and shoes,
- conservative hair styles, and
- conservative makeup and accessories, if permissible
reduces the number of early morning battles between parents and youth over what to wear.
The simple uniform can reduce the number of early-morning and late-night phone calls students make to young friends trying to match ensembles or even to coordinate gang colors.
This school uniform requirement can itself reduce the clout of cliques who often bully students outside the clique for "substandard" appearance. It can reduce gang rivalries and even bullying that results from picking on other kids considered "in groups" and "out groups" at school.
Owning a set of matching outfits equalizes the playing field at school among youth. It creates a sense of more evident equality.
Disadvantaged students might stop feeling left out by the kids that used to wear the most expensive name-brand outfits. There would be fewer instances of stealing of clothing and shoes as well.
Far fewer teens likely would be shot or stabbed for their special sports jackets or their expensive designer basketball shoes if a school uniform were added to school dress codes.
The ‘In’ Crowd: 1964
Uniforms Work in Asia
Within a uniform requirement, overall conservative clothing, shoes, hair, or makeup would less likely broadcast one's social status. In fact, the institution of countrywide uniforms for everyone in China after the fall of the last emperor proved this. Everyone wore khakis and worked, even the former emperor. More work was accomplished in China without the distraction of varying fashion.
The Japanese also instituted uniforms in Honda plants in America as they had already done in their factories at home. More work has accomplished in all of these factories when compared to factories that have no uniform code. It is far fetched to believe that all of America will every wear uniforms, but much evidence shows that uniforms cut down on distraction, bullying, and wasted time.
Safety, Money Saving, and Personality Development
One of the oldest complaints against school uniforms is that students would lose their individuality. Individuality should come from personality and ideas, not from a piece of cloth on the shoulders, a fancy shoe on the foot, gang colors, or Hannah Montana backpacks.
Uniforms can improve and enhance students' individuality, because students will resort to expressing themselves through personality, rather than through appearance. Uniforms can, therefore, improve self-esteem in conjunction with more fully developed personality.
Secondly, uniforms should allow more time for student work and study -- less time for gossip and comparison. Students in uniforms may spend less time shopping and time gossiping about clothes.
This should allow students to focus on school. Students may even arrive at school earlier, since they will not be trying on so many different outfits each morning. This reduces stress. One exception I know is a Catholic school that allows the students different colors and styles of socks with their uniforms - and the kids fight over their socks. It is an unnecessary distraction.
Thirdly, K-12 uniforms -- like back trousers/skirt, black shoes, black or white socks, and white tops -- can save money.
Parents will no longer buy high cost brand name school clothes. For weekends, students might do chores or work part-time if old enough to earn money, for other clothes. This will help the youth to learn the concept of cost and value.
Some students disagree might fight the notion of uniforms for K-12, but every school has the opportunity of benefiting from them. Students need to attend school to learn, not to worry about who is looking at their clothes, and especially not to fight over them to the point of murder or assault.
Uniforms can create a more focused, relaxed atmosphere and decrease the frequency of bullying at school, but will also raise students' self-esteem, increase productivity, and save money.
The ideal uniform policy should probably include clothing, shoes, makeup, accessories, and hairstyles. It should likely include facial piercing and visible tattoos as well. There are schools at which kindergartners wear makeup, so an across the board policy for all grades may be best, or one that allows moderate makeup in the appropriate grade level.
If one school's youth will fight over different colored socks when that is the only element that differs, then they will certainly fight or gossip or spend time looking for long periods of time at pierced and tattooed faces and arms. Each school district must make a choice after meeting with parents and students and deciding what sort of policy is best for all.