School Uniforms: A Good Way to Improve Discipline and Motivation? AED 200 England was the first nation to require their students to wear uniforms during the 16th century. These uniforms were not for the rich, but instead were used to distinguish the poor children from the other children. “It wasn’t until 300 years later that students who attended the better English public schools began wearing uniforms. Once this became the norm, it blossomed into an obsession, as well as a way to effect social and cultural control over the students (ehow. com). ”
Up until recently, school uniforms were mainly used by “parochial and private schools, which have a long history of using school uniforms to project an atmosphere of uniformity, pride, loyalty, and equality among the student population (communityonline. com). ” The debate on uniforms in public schools began in the 1980s. During this time public schools were compared unfavorably to the Catholic schools. Some public schools decided to adopt a uniform policy like the private schools in hope that they would benefit just as the Catholic schools did.
Cherry Hill Elementary in Baltimore, Maryland, was the first public school to implement school uniforms in 1987. School uniforms can range from formal to informal. Some schools have gone along the lines of Catholic schools choosing to have their students wear nice pants with white shirts for boys and skirts or jumpers and shirts for girls. Most public schools are choosing to go the more informal or casual route with khaki or jeans for the bottom and knit shirts in a variety of colors. Here in Hawaii many public schools have uniform t-shirts in a variety of styles and allow the students to wear the bottoms they choose.
Although students are able to wear their own bottoms, schools have strict dress code policies for the students to follow. In 1996, President Clinton instructed the Federal Education Department to distribute manuals to all school districts informing them on how they are able to legally enforce school uniform policies. He stated in his State of the Union speech: “If it means that teenagers will stop killing each other over designer jackets, then our public schools should be able to require their students to require school uniforms (nytimes. om). ” President Clintons support for school uniforms stemmed directly from Jackie Robinson Academy in Long Beach, California, which made it a requirement for all 58,500 of their students to wear uniforms. Just one year after implementing their uniform policy school crime had decreased by 36 percent. Although the government supports school uniforms, many students, parents, and schools do not have the same views. During the 1999- 2000 school year it was reported that 12% of schools required their students to wear uniforms.
By the 2007-2008 school year that number had increased to 18%. While 55% reported to enforce a strict dress code. With so many people on both sides of the argument on school uniforms, it is hard for schools to implement a uniform policy. When it comes to the question on whether or not school uniforms improve discipline and motivation, I believe it does. I personally have gone to schools that require uniforms, both public and private. Uniforms increase school safety and academic performance. I believe that it promotes creativity and individuality and is cost efficient.
Gang violence is a major problem in urban areas and through the implement of school uniforms it prevents students from being able to wear gang affiliated clothing and also makes it easier for school authorities to identify their students and also non- students. Uniforms also reduce the amount of theft on clothing and shoes since all students wear the same clothes. That is mainly reliant on whether or not the schools participate in full school uniforms such as shirt, pants, and shoes or simply a t-shirt.
If the schools choose to participate in t-shirt only uniforms students are still at risk of their shoes, possibly pants, and personal belongings. “While there have certainly been some benefits of school uniforms, the whole thing is about as effective as putting a band-aid over a gangrenous wound and hoping that will cure the malady. When you have to have police authorities and metal detection machines in schools, it is a social problem that has advanced well beyond what anyone is dressing in. The violence cannot be resolved until the social issues are addressed (buzzle. om). ” The U. S. Department of Education’s Manual on School Uniforms states: “uniforms by themselves cannot solve all of the problems of school discipline, but they can be one positive contributing factor to discipline and safety (keepschoolssafe. org). ” Also although it would be easy to pinpoint outsiders not in the school uniform, what happens when an intruder dresses in the same uniform? School uniforms are easy for anyone to buy, because of this there is no way of telling that student apart from the rest of the student body.
There are also problems with students who decide to break the rules regarding school uniform. In my particular high school where it was a requirement to use uniform t-shirts, students would wear their t-shirts to class, and take the shirt off during breaks to wear whatever it was they had underneath. Faculty was not very adamant in enforcing the uniform rules therefore students didn’t have a need to follow them. Faculty and staff need to be sure to enforce these policies to the full extent to have students properly follow the rules.
Children who are “different” from the main crowd are typically picked on, harassed, or bullied in school. Children are pressured to act and dress a certain way. School uniforms aid in the prevention of peer pressure in schools between students. Children tease those who do not wear the latest trends in clothing. Those who can’t afford name brand clothes are often sensitive about their clothes. “School uniforms promote social equality among students because they diminish socioeconomic differences.
Since everyone is wearing the same clothing, students cannot judge each other based upon their clothes, and students will not feel pressured to buy expensive clothes. This can reduce peer pressure and may help create a more positive social environment in which students can form friendships based on mutual interests or respect (suite101. com). ” Peer pressure is a major problem in all levels of education and it would be ideal if something as simple as school uniforms could completely solve this problem, but the reality is it cannot.
Although in many cases it may bring students from different economic statuses together because there are no outfits to compare to one another and separate students into groups there are other causes that may cause them to drift. Outside of school there are no uniforms and it may be just as awkward for those students to hang out together outside of school as they would in school. I am sure there are those special cases in which students look past those differences thanks to the school uniforms, but they usually don’t.
Peer pressure and bullying is just as likely to happen outside of school as it would in school. I believe it may be worse in some ways because there are no teachers around to prevent things from getting out of hand. There is also an economic advantage of having a school uniform policy. When schools have a uniform policy the parents no longer pressured as often to buy the latest fashion item for their child to wear. School uniforms are fairly inexpensive and are much less expensive than many other types of clothing. Schools argue that school uniforms are economical, especially compared to designer clothing, and parents agree given school uniform durability (articlesbase. com). ” School uniforms also last longer because they are made for repeated was and wear. An additional benefit is the capability for uniforms to be passed down from sibling to sibling and possibly even sold to other students at an even cheaper rate. It is true that uniforms are much cheaper than the name brands students want, but it doesn’t mean that there is no pressure on the parents to still buy those name brand clothing.
Students will still need clothing to wear outside of school and if the school has a t-shirt uniform they still need to buy pants and shorts for their children. “Since students will now require two sets of clothing – one for school, and another for socializing outside of school – uniforms can be very expensive for parents. School uniform clothing is unlikely to be useful for anything outside of school (suite101. com). ” A school uniform can instill a sense of discipline and community among students.
Because school uniforms prevent students from distracting outfits, it may reduce classroom distractions and help them focus on their schoolwork. With uniforms reducing the distraction of what other students are wearing it also helps to increase student performance by helping students to pay attention to his or her assignment and focus on their work. School uniforms are also believed to put students into more of a “business” state because they are dressed more professionally. Uniforms are also said to prepare students for future jobs where there are usually dress codes to follow.
Those against school uniforms argue that uniforms violate their freedom of expression, reduce individuality, and encourage conformity. They also believe that forcing students to wear uniforms limits their individual expression and free choice. “Many teenagers express themselves through their clothes and accessories. Limiting free expression can be compared to limiting the freedom of speech (suite101. com). ” By forcing students to dress the same, they also believe that it forces students to believe that conformity is the only way to succeed setting up for future failure and a lifetime of conformity.
Many will argue that students hate uniforms. I will not argue with that, but there are many reasons for which they love it. From my personal experience I was never a fan of the uniforms chosen. My eighth and ninth grade was spent at an all-girl Catholic school whose uniform was a navy blue pleated skirt, white blouse, and blue striped cuffs and collars that almost gave a sailor feel. The rest of my high school years were spent at a public school in which the uniform was simply a variety of different designs of t-shirts.
While the uniforms may not have been very attractive (which they are never meant to be) I never really minded having to use them. It made it much easier for me to get dressed in the morning avoiding the prolonged decision of what I should wear. I also liked not having to worry about whether or not I had already used a certain shirt since they were all pretty much the same. School uniforms are a great way to improve discipline and motivation in students and I feel that most if not all schools would benefit greatly from having a uniform policy.
Resources Benefits of School Uniforms. Buzzle. com. Retrieved from http://www. buzzle. com/articles/benefits-of-school-uniforms. html Kelly, Melissa. School Uniforms. Pros and Cons. About. com. Retrieved from http://712educators. about. com/cs/schoolviolence/a/uniforms. htm Mitchell, Alison. (February 25, 1996). The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www. nytimes. com/1996/02/25/us/clinton-will-advise-schools-on-uniforms. html Pros and Cons of School Uniforms. (September 9, 2005). Articlesbase. Retrieved from http://www. articlesbase. om/advice-articles/pros-and-cons-of-school-uniforms-182. html Richards, Rebekah. (February 18, 2010). School Uniforms Pros. Suite101. com. Retrieved from http://www. suite101. com/content/school-uniforms-pros—school-uniform-debate-a203641 School Uniforms- Now More Than Ever! Educational Schools Uniforms. Retrieved from http://www. communityonline. com/local/educational/schools/uniforms/ uniforms. htm Wilde, Marian. Do Uniforms Make Schools Better? Greatschools. Retrieved from http://www. greatschools. org/find-a-school/defining-your-ideal/school-uniforms. gs? content=121
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