School uniforms for a sense of community?

It turns out my kids’ school will be implementing a new dress code starting in the new school year. And by dress code I mean they’ll be required to wear a school uniform. It’s not just our school. The Catholic School Board has decided to implement what they call an ‘Appropriate Dress Code’. This means next year the kids will have to wear a white top and blue bottoms or blue top and bottoms.

I’m not really a fan.

Now we’re not talking about tattooing student numbers on the kids or body searches when they enter the school. No, school uniforms aren’t a terrible thing. My husband went to a school where they had to wear uniforms. He said, like the glossy brochure the school is handing out, that it ensured all the kids were the same, rich kids and disadvantaged kids (himself falling in the later group). Yes I can see the benefit of not having to keep up with the Jones’ Kids (and my daughter, at the age of seven, seems to be pretty status conscious).

So why am I not happy? I think school uniforms take away one avenue for a child’s creative expression. One of the advantages of being self-employed is that I can set my own dress code, but most adults have to conform to office dress policies. Knowing that my kids may have to conform as an adult, I want to protect their freedom for creative expression. Hair colouring and piercings and tattoos are not something I’m going to let my seven-year-old do but miss-matching clothes or wearing a skirt over pants are just one way my daughter likes to express herself, through her clothes.

Yes the uniform only applies during school hours but are you really going to have the kids change into another outfit for the few hours they’re home before bed? I don’t know about you but I have better things to do than extra laundry. With only alternative clothes required on the two non-school days, I can certainly cut down on the number of outfits my kids have on hand (my son has an extensive skull T-shirt collection).

I don’t see how having a school uniform will promote the ‘strenthened sense of community within our school‘. Having everyone the same doesn’t make the school a community. I wonder if the teachers and staff will be required to follow this dress code, as a way of strengthening the school community. Probably not, but it will be the question I pose at the next council meeting.

I like the school. The kids seem to like the school. I’m not happy with the uniform direction but I’m not annoyed by it enough to move my kids, again. I just think it’s sad. This is just one more push to make our children fit into the box we as adults have to deal with everyday. I wish we could just let them play outside of the box a little longer.

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Such a tough debate I’m sure. I went to a public school where we weren’t confined to a dress code. The pressure was definitely there to have the latest labels. I can see arguments for both sides, but many of my friends who were forced to wear uniforms actually had positive things to say about the equality aspect. Most of them expressed their individuality through shoe choice (if they had it), their hair and talents. How does your daughter feel about it?

    Reply

  2. I loathe the idea of uniforms.

    I don’t think that the difference between rich and poor children can be cured with a uniform, it may level the playing field very slightly but in the end the disadvantaged children will be singled out somehow, uniform or not.

    Instead of clothes it will be iPods, computers, toys or vacations and some students will have them and some students won’t. I feel like the equality argument is made so that people will feel good about uniforms instead of feeling like the right to choose your own clothing is being taken away. It cant be wrong if all kids are equal, right? but kids will find someway to distinguish themselves into one group or another.

    This dress code is not so bad, just blue pants and white shirt, but think about the children who’s parent have very little money will have to spend twice as much to buy regluar (play) clothes AND a school uniform, if the school is going to have a mandatory uniform maybe they should pay for them?

    All uniforms do is make it easier for the schools to monitor & control dress code and it sure looks nice in a class picture. I don’t have children, maybe my opinion will change when I do but I didn’t like uniforms when I was a kids and I still don’t like them now.

    sorry that was so long, but uniforms in school just tick me off!

    Reply

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