Uniforms are all around you in daily life. Everybody wears a uniform of some sort. If you play sports, you wear a uniform. If you have a job, you wear a uniform. Wearing a uniform for a couple of hours does not change who you are and what you stand for. You are simply wearing something different than you normally would. It does not distract from your personality at all. All it does, is eliminates the competition to have the coolest outfit, the latest trends and awkwardness for the people who don’t have the money to buy those types of clothes.
I went to one of those private catholic schools from my nursery to 10th standard. Thinking back to the real hardcore school schedules, I could remember that whenever a member of staff entered the room, we were all expected to stand up, chorus “Good Morning Teacher/Sir. . .” or “Good Afternoon . . .” and wait to be told to sit down. Discipline was strict, and we worked in silence. We were taught by teachers who stood in front of us and lectured; we were allowed to ask questions if strictly necessary, but group work or other types of teaching were more or less unknown.
The school also has strict rules on dress codes and we were required to wear uniforms as in every school in the town. Grey skirts, white button down shirt, and a maroon tie with the school logo, white socks and nice black ballerina shoes all around. They were not so bad since I didn’t have to decide on what to wear every day. The school requires you to have your white shirt strictly tucked in at all times, to wear a belt and the skirt, not above the knees. (For guys their hair cannot touch their shirt, which bothered them a lot!). Anyways, all that was not too hard to comply with!
Parochial and private schools have a long history of using school uniforms to project an atmosphere of uniformity, pride, loyalty, and equality among the student population. Also, there has always been an image of professionalism associated with having students participate in a school uniform curriculum. School uniforms also tend to involve students more, to make them a part of a “team” at the school. This is not so much as to erase their individuality, but to include everyone on the same level as far as image and dress is concerned. It was the same in high school with no change in the uniform and its strict rules. Many friends of mine like to argue the point that school uniforms are a bad thing. I remember when I was in high school and the topic of going to school in uniforms was a huge subject. But, of course, there was always that “Hitler” – this was partly a corruption of her name- in disguise of a teacher to fuss over the right way to set your tie, to make sure that your skirts are covering the knees, not to mention, the boys pulling up their pants to check the socks are there or not there at all! While she exhibited none of the signs of mental instability shown by her namesake, she ruled the school with a point of her finger, commanding universal fear and respect. She was believed to know every student in the school by name!
Anyways, looking back and now, I can see a lot of changes in terms of liberation of the dress code. Boys and girls today are into the ‘low-waist’ fashion statement, in which the school uniforms are not exempted. I remember my school days when we have to literally pull the shirts from ‘inside’ the skirt to get a neat tuck and wearing the skirts right below the chest!
I recently attended one of those school students function and was amazed at the total liberation shown on how the boys and girls carried the school uniform with their button down shirts loosely pouching out of their belts and not to mention the neck tie which was looking like a fashion statement tie worn around the neck! Anyways things change, so I just accepted the new school ‘dress code’.
But I feel that school uniforms are not required outside of school. We are in school for 7- 8 hours a day. After that, the time becomes ours. We can wear whatever we want then. Show off as much skin as we like or be as anti-war as we like. The rest of the day is ours.
Anyways, wearing uniforms does not lead to improvements in proschool attitudes or increased academic preparation and that’s all about going to school, right?