School uniforms? No thanks.

If there’s any one thing that reminds me that traditional schools began as military institutions, it’s the uniforms. Little citizens, like boxes on a hillside, all lining up to be well behaved.

But by which century’s standards?

Few things perplex me like the sight of a young child yoked into a tie. Truthfully, I don’t think about it very much, as my sons go to an alternative school where uniforms are not required (although tidy dress is encouraged), but every now and again I drive past a crocodile of blazered children, walking two-by-two in the blazing heat, and think to myself: “Why does anyone still think uniforms are a good idea?”

I just don’t get it.

The pro arguments I’ve heard tend to go as follows:

They look neat. This may sometimes be true, although looking around your average mall, it’s impressive how sloppy you can make a uniform look if you really try. And why do they have to look neat in a uniform? To be a walking school advert?

Schools?  I’d much rather you focused on your reputation, be good enough to get some word of mouth going, have an outstanding results record, fabulous teachers/facilities/extra-murals. My kid? Not your billboard, thanks.

They take dressing for school ‘out of the equation’. It’s hard enough to find yourself in this world, why take away any opportunity for children to express themselves in a way that doesn’t hurt others? Why are we telling them individuality is a bad thing? Have you SEEN the world out there? Individuality is a GREAT thing. Teaching children to be sheep is a terribly BAD thing. I think.

It’s cheaper. Than what? Buying your child enough clothes to have a fashion show every day? Or buying jeans, t-shirts and sweaters... the ones you’d be buying ANYWAY for after school? Because if the former is your worry – isn’t that more a home discipline issue? Your kid's got to learn how to cut his or her cloth according to a budget – starting to learn this at school doesn’t seem like such a bad thing to me.

They instil a sense of pride in one’s school I have had a fair amount of exposure to alternative schools which don’t require uniforms, both here and abroad, and I’ve met a lot of children at traditional, uniformed schools. (Heck, I’ve BEEN a child at a traditional, uniformed school.) I am staggered by how much more school pride the children at the alternative schools have, when compared to those I have met in traditional schools. Sure, that’s just my experience... but it’s swayed me.

Is there an argument I am missing here, folks? Because, for the life of me, I don’t understand the point of sheeping up our kids in uniforms.

What do you think about school uniforms?

Read more by Sam Wilson

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