Firstly, before we start analysing this, how do we define a “good idea”? A good idea benefits both sides of a situation, it is an idea in which the advantages are greater than the disadvantages for different groups of people. In the “school uniform is a good idea” case, we have different people standing in different positions: the school/teachers, students/kids and the parents/community. An “idea” always have advantages and disadvantages to different things. Sometimes the advantage is greater, sometimes vice versa. In this situation, I believe the advantages of having school uniforms is greater than the disadvantages and I will explain why.
Why are school uniforms a good idea to the students? Firstly, school uniforms will be able to save more time and pocket money. They don’t have waste time thinking about what to wear every single morning. Let me give you an example. Every morning you wake up, walk to your wardrobe, and you are greeted by a mass of clothing of different styles: t-shirts of different colour and design, tank tops, blouses/shirts, skirts/trousers of different length, coats, jeans… you get what I mean. On top of that, you have to think of a reasonable mix and match for the clothes. Also, for girls this means they will have to apply a make-up that will suit the selected clothing. All of this wasted time is reduced if they wore school uniform.
How does wearing school uniform save money? A very simple answer follows this question: there is no need to buy such a range of different clothing of different brands, especially the most famous or popular ones. Brands like Vera Wang or Armani are going to cost a fortune. And what happens if a student wears this sort of clothing to show off or be “cool”, but instead gets it dirty or scratched? The clothing would be ruined, and even if it gets cleaned or fixed, there would be less of a chance for the student to wear that again. Therefore the student or parent is going to buy another piece of clothing to replace the “old” one, or just because they wanted to buy more stuff to wear. I am very well aware that not all students are like that. Some kids like to wear casual clothes, for example jeans and a t-shirt. But these people may be picked on and laughed at, just because of their fashion taste.
Different people have different tastes for fashion. Some people like to wear girly clothes; some girls like to wear miniskirts or low-cut tops; some people like to dress up as a punk rockstar with earrings and all sorts of things. This makes the school seem untidy, and because of their distinction in fashion taste, they will form groups or gangs, and may not even bother to talk to other groups just because of their clothing. What a person wears can make other people think of their corresponding stereotypes. Let me give you another example: a person wearing dark clothing, studded bracelet, with a few earrings may be regarded as a gothic or emo stereotype, and is automatically referred to: liking death-metal music, being depressed, an introvert and may be violent towards people, etc. But I have a few friends that are like what I have described, and they are friendly and to many people, and are not even close to being violent towards other people. But because they are dressed like that, people that don’t know them don’t really like to talk to them. Therefore, uniform avoids all of this confusion and isolation of people.
Some people say that uniforms take away their freedom to express themselves through clothing. This is absolutely not true. Students can express themselves through numerous opportunities in the environment created by the school. It provides opportunities like joining the student council, drama productions, different sport events like cross-country or volleyball competition, various inter-house competitions ranging from Scrabble® to general knowledge to softball competitions. There are so many other places to be focusing on expressing their own talent, and more importantly – their personality.
Some people argue that the school uniform is not well-designed for the weather conditions – that there are only two sets of uniforms. This, is not true at all. Students have a variety of overcoats to choose from in the winter: merino/egyptian cardigans, sweaters, polar fleece jackets. Students can also wear a white thermals underneath the uniform, and there are thick tights available for girls. Even the P.E. uniform is accustomed to the weather. In the summer, people are encouraged to wear more revealing clothes to stay cool. Students may feel uncomfortable in their uniforms so the school has conditioned buses, classrooms, and large windows.
School uniforms also create a sense of unity amongst the students. No matter where they come from, how wealthy they are, or how big of a wardrobe they have at home, a simple school uniform conceals all of this. This will reduce the possibility of being bullied because of their family background, which hurts both the parents and their kid. The sense of equality makes it much easier for students to socialise and talk more confidently towards other people.
Students should be proud of their own school uniform, especially the badge. Take Dulwich College for example. The badge was originally awarded to Edward Alleyn, a successful Elisabethan actor as their family coat of arms and crest when he found the school. He made it Dulwich College’s school crest and the design hasn’t changed since. Even with differently designed uniforms, the badge unites all sister schools of Dulwich College.
Some people argue that children from kindergarten should not wear school uniform. I have been to a kindergarten with and and another without uniform. I believe kids at this age are not very conscious of “fashion” or “brand”, so there wont be much bullying occurring. The main problem that people will argue that school uniform is not a good idea for little children is that children this age should not be restricted in wearing what they want to wear. But the choice of clothing is almost always decided by their parents, which means that it would be much easier for the parents to purchase comfortable school uniforms than to buy a range of different clothing which are practical for school. When I was attending kindergarten, I first went to a school (Soong Ching Ling Kindergarten) without uniform. My parents thought it wasn’t really a good idea because, almost everyday I come home with a splat of paint or dirt on my clothes, and some of them are quite expensive. So we switched to another school (SCIS). The uniform was reasonably priced and was comfortable. School uniforms saved a lot of trouble and fuss for my parents. I believe this applies to many many other parents as well.
How are school uniforms a good idea to the school or the teachers? Is it because the teachers could then enjoy scolding children with shirts untucked? No. Is it because the school wants to manage the students and give them the pressure they are going to receive in the working world? Partly. Not only giving them a time to get accustomed to wearing a suit or uniform, it differentiates one school from other schools, uniting together to form a single team, and therefore allowing more competitive school competitions. It makes it much easier for teachers to identify and find students from their school during visits to other schools, educational trips or if a student is missing from a group. Students wearing uniforms represent their school in many ways. A school with students wearing proper school uniform will look very professional and neat, which may encourage more enrolment of students.
Overall, I believe that although school uniforms may be uncomfortable outdoors, but the school tries its best in keeping us in a safe and comfortable environment. It may restrict students from expressing themselves through clothing, but if students really want to express themselves, they will find another way that is better for them. The advantages for all the groups in this situation, is greater than its disadvantages.