School Uniform Like Collective Symbol

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Nowadays, when you walk into the high school campus, you will find many students wearing the same uniform, it is called the school uniform. In a broad sense, school uniforms are regarded as a collective symbol, a symbol of the legitimacy of school education institutions, some people think that students should wear school uniforms and it should be mandatory, while others say it should not be compulsory, both sides want it to have a positive on students. Brunsma(2016) reports that Mandatory uniform policies have been the focus of recent discourse on public school reform. He argues that uniform policies may indirectly affect school environment and student outcomes by providing a visible and public symbol of commitment to school improvement and reform. However, the school uniforms for the school itself is of great significance, but its similar design and mandatory provisions need to be improved.

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In the views of school uniform advocates, as a uniform style of academic clothing stipulated by the school, students should always wear it in the school, because it has a good influence on students in many ways. First and foremost, school uniforms as a school culture and image of the endorsement, it can increase a sense of belonging and school pride and make students aware of their identity as students at all times, thus encouraging discipline and improving attendance. According to school-reported statistics and the School Administrator (Chen, 2008), the mandate of uniforms on campuses has reduced tardiness, skipped classes, suspensions, and discipline referrals among students. It means that wearing uniforms makes students more efficient overall. Furthermore, when all students have to wear the same uniform, the socio-economic differences between students will be minimized, and students will no longer have the pressure to choose appropriate clothes. A movement toward using uniforms in state schools began when Bill Clinton addressed it, saying: “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 wear uniforms.””(Boutelle, 2010) Obviously, uniforms are a good way to protect the self-esteem of students from poor families and to help students resist peer pressure to buy trendy clothes. In addition, school uniforms also affect students safety by decreasing gang activity and fights and lowering student victimization. In the first year of the mandatory uniform policy in Long Beach, California, officials reported that fighting in schools decreased by more than 50%, assault and battery by 34%, sex offenses by 74%, and robbery by 66%. (Wade, 2015) These data mean that the uniform uniform presented by all students can increase students’ sense of pride and unity. School uniforms can differentiate strangers from students in school buildings and reduce the prevalence of violence. All in all, school uniforms can improve students’ learning efficiency and promote equality among students, and it is a good safety guarantee for students.

Another voice in the uniform debate is that uniforms should not be compulsory. First of all, as outlined by the ACLU’s First Amendment argument, opponents of uniforms in public schools argue that they stifle students’ need for self-expression.(Barnow, 2010) If students are not given the opportunity to fully express their unique personality through the clothes they choose, individualism cannot give full play to its ability. “school uniforms suppress students’ individuality by mandating standardization of appearance and removing student expression.”(Joseph, 2016) When children choose their own clothes, they are able to develop self-confidence and independence, which are essential for personality development and adult success. Moreover, school uniforms may not be suitable for all students, which will limit students’ study, because students are worried about their appearance. In order to maximize the learning effect, students’ comfort level is very important, and school uniforms may distract students from their studies. For example, a uniform might require students to wear polo shirts tucked into khaki pants. Overweight students may feel uncomfortable with their bodies. (Goodman, 2009) When students feel uncomfortable in their school uniforms, their attention will be diverted from their studies. Besides, another negative aspect of school uniforms is that they can be sexist, in terms of the dress code, boys and girls aren’t disciplined. According to Zhou(2016), transgender students have been sent home for wearing clothing different from what’s expected of their legal sex, while others have been excluded from yearbooks. Thus controversy arises when students do not want to show gender inconsistency with their gender. In addition, some girls’ school uniforms are not designed properly, which makes girls unable to move freely and makes them catch cold in winter. All in all, school uniforms hinder the development of students’ personality, and their uniform design cannot be applied to all students, and it also limits students’ sexual orientation.

School uniform advocates emphasize that school uniforms should be mandatory in order to create a safer, more united environment for students and help achieve equality, because it will benefit students to study more efficiently. Opponents of school uniforms argue that school uniforms are unnecessary because they hinder the development of students’ personality, limit the cultivation of students’ innovative spirit and may lead to gender discrimination. It seems that both sides are trying to do what is good for students, which is the different aspect of students’ academic development and personality development.

Although not all schools in the United States have to wear uniforms, the United States is slowly getting used to uniforms. “Almost one in five US public schools required students to wear uniforms during the 2011-2012 school year, up from one in eight in 2003-2004.” (DaCosta, 2013) School uniforms are becoming a trend, deciding whether a uniform is appropriate for a student depends on the individual situation. If students have a high need for self-expression and personal comfort while wearing clothes, uniforms may create unhealthy resentment and lead to negative behavior. On the other hand, if students need to pay more attention to their studies rather than appearance and socialization, then uniforms may help relieve the social pressure associated with independent dress.

The debate over uniforms in public schools encompasses many larger issues than simply what children should wear to school. It touches on issues of school improvement, freedom of expression, and the “culture wars.” (Wilde, 2010) In conclusion, school uniforms can improve students’ cohesion and promote equality among students, but students’ personality development is also important, and students’ individual rights should be protected. Both supporters and opponents of school uniforms want to promote the development of students. Therefore, school uniform is necessary, but it should not be compulsory, it should depend on the students’ personal situation.

Reference:

  1. Brunsma, D. L., & Rockquemore, K. A. (2016) Effects of student uniforms on attendance, behavior problems, substance use, and academic achievement. The Journal of Educational Research, 92(1), 53-62
  2. Chen, G. (2008). Public school uniforms: The pros and cons for your child. Public School Review.
  3. Boutelle, Marsha (2010). “”UNIFORMS: Are They A Good Fit?””. Educational Digest. 73 (6): 34–37.
  4. Wade, K. K., & Stafford, M. E. (2015). Public School Uniforms: Effect on Perceptions of Gang Presence, School Climate, and Student Self-Perceptions. Education and Urban Society, 35(4), 399–420.
  5. Barnow, B. S., & Heinrich, C. J. (2010). One standard fits all? The pros and cons of performance standard adjustments. Public Administration Review, 70(1), 60-71.
  6. Joseph, Nathan. (2016) Uniforms and Nonuniforms: Communication through Clothing. Greenwood Press, New York, NY, 1986. ProQuest.
  7. Goodman, J. W. (2009). The pros and cons of online dispute resolution: an assessment of cyber-mediation websites. Duke Law & Technology Review, 2(1), 1-16.
  8. Zhou, Li. (2016) “”Why School Dress Codes Are Sexist””. The Atlantic. Retrieved 26 February 2016
  9. DaCosta, K. (2013). Dress code blues: An exploration of urban students’ reactions to a public High School uniform policy. The Journal of Negro Education, 75(1), 49-59.
  10. Wilde, M. (2010). Do uniforms make schools better?. Great Schools.”
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