The Variable Dresscode: Pros and Cons of School Uniforms

Read our guest post at Survey Magnet, which expands on the material presented here.

The debate over whether student uniforms are beneficial or detrimental has warred on for so long because of how easy it is to balance on the fence. The following are four pros and cons to school uniforms that might make you a fence sitter--or help you fall over one edge.

Pro 1: Academic Performance Increased

Educators believe that students in uniform are more likely to focus on academics. This concept of professionalism doesn't just exist in education; it's why so many employers are also required to wear certain attire.

Pro 2: Behavioral Issues Reduced

Sociologist and K-12 experts report students in uniform behave more appropriately in school environments. The belief arises from uniforms dictating a stricter atmosphere that encourages students to follow the rules. Violence in uniform schools is lower than other schools.

Pro 3: Social Outcomes Improved

In non-uniform schools, clothing and fashion often act the root of social conflict. Students segregate themselves by what they wear: the jocks, the goths, the emos, the nerds. With uniforms, students are brought into a neutral zone that makes social relationships easier.

Pro 4: Affordability

Experts believe a couple of uniforms is more affordable than a large wardrobe of trendy clothing.

Con 1: Self Expression is Thwarted

School uniforms stifle self expression, and the development of the self is as integral as the development of the mind. Experts believe that there is no stopping self expression in the psychological development of children and teenagers, and that more inappropriate means of expression will arise if clothing is restricted.

Con 2: Individuality is Repressed

If students are forced into a single mold, the individuality of each student evaporates, leaving a wash behind. Students are not exposed to diversity and often times experience culture shock when facing individuality in "the real world."

Con 3: Comfort Isn't There

School uniforms could prove just as much of an academic distraction as the classmate that's sitting next to you in the inappropriate shirt when you're dealing with things like itchiness, tightness, and rigidness. Students also don't feel right in their own skin when wearing something forced upon them.

Con 4: Affordability Again

There's just as many experts that believe that student uniforms are more expensive than the alternative. This is because while the student might only wear a uniform to school, they're still going to want to embrace individuality and specifically-chosen clothing for outside of school. Two different wardrobes can become exhausting on the wallet.

The Verdict

Those that advocate school uniforms criticize the arguments against uniformity, claiming that students do not need to reply solely on their clothing for a sense of self and comfort. On the other hand, those that are against school uniforms do not believe their child's academic performance will change because of the shirt they wear, nor will the friendships they make deteriorate or grow over whats on their backs.

Ultimately, like everything else in K-12 education, the right thing to do will vary based on the child and the decision of the parent. If uniforms--or the lack of uniforms--is important to you and your child, make sure to consult the school(s) of your choice for their dress codes.

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