School Uniforms are a Good Policy pt. 1

“I really want to clear my life to make it so that I have to make as few decisions as possible about anything except how to best serve this community” – Mark Zuckerberg

When asked why he wears the same T-shirt everyday at Facebook’s first public Q&A in 2014, that is how CEO Mark Zuckerberg perceptively responded. While Zuckerberg’s personal philosophy reflects an understanding of how disengaging from an ingrained cultural practice of fretting over our wardrobes can help focus the mind, there are many practical reasons for adopting a static attire. Especially in the context of school uniforms, private schools have demonstrated the benefits of this approach.

The most obvious benefit is minimalizing distractions, especially as students get older. When you take fashion out of the equation, the culture of the school day becomes about academic achievement, and competition between students is redirected towards scholarly pursuits instead of unhealthy comparisons of outwardly appearances, i.e. dress. Enforcing wardrobe uniformity forces students to engage each other with their minds, and by doing so helps foster healthy academic rivalry in the classroom.

Another positive outcome of implementing a school uniform is that it invokes a feeling of pride in the student; and a sense of belonging is created when a common affiliation is established. Walking down a corridor filled with peers all dressed in the same school uniform removes a potent source of social anxiety and helps a child ingratiate themselves among their peers, especially if they are a new student at the school!

What do YOU think about school uniforms? Right now they are a benefit enjoyed only by private schools, but should Ontario public schools also adopt this policy?

Please stay tuned for a continuation of this post, coming up soon!

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7 thoughts on “School Uniforms are a Good Policy pt. 1

  1. Interesting post! My son went to both public and private schools with uniforms, and both private and public schools without. I have to say that I think after that experience, I am totally opposed to uniforms. I understand the arguments made in favour, but they never actually seemed to work in practice. The kids didn’t particularly seem to take pride in “belonging” and at one school the punitive aspect of policing uniform adherence actually took attention away from academic standards. The best educational environments my son went to were a state (public) school with no uniform, and an upper school (last three years) which had a dress code, but no uniform. In the upper school especially, there was an amazing academic, social and arts culture that has resulted in those kids achieving some world-class results and going on to do great things. What they were wearing was irrelevant to them. Kids are fashion and status conscious and if they can’t express that in the main part of their clothing, they will find other ways (hair ties, jewellery, bags, gadgets), so the social leveling effect that uniforms are meant to promote is lost as the poor kids still feel poor through an absence of whatever the latest item of “cool” is. Not only that, but items of uniform clothing are usually so much more expensive than regular clothes. The “poor kids” stand out even more in uniform as they are wearing the old faded, tatty stuff that has been passed on to them or bought second-hand. In regular clothes, their parents could shop at cheaper stores and the clothes are at least new. Sorry if this has become a bit of a rant. I lived with the realities of uniforms across a range of schooling environments for the 12 years of my kid’s education and that of his friends and peers and I would always advocate against uniforms.

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    • Hi Su Leslie, thanks for your comment! I think a post can be made much more interesting if it can spark a lively, respectful debate, and you’ve helped me succeed at that 🙂

      In my professional experience uniforms have had a positive impact on the school’s learning environment. School uniforms do help erase socio-economic divisions and help students focus on the academic aspect of school, but perhaps we are disagreeing about the DEGREE of its effects.

      Also, according to your logic I would think that even if a student of a lower socio-economic status at a public school with no dress code was wearing “new but cheaper” clothes, they would still stand out because as you say they are still not wearing the “correct cool” trend that is popular at that moment. At least with uniforms then, this difference is less obvious because private schools are reducing the superficial, outwardly ways in which a student is at risk to be seen as not adhering to the latest trend.

      Maybe it is just different in Canadian private schools! 🙂

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  2. Hello!! This blog post is so interesting to view this controversial topic from another country! Living in the UK I can see and agree with many of the arguments you adress here, it does reduce the possible division in class due to individual dress style. And I can’t agree more on the point that students wearing uniform actually feel like they fit in with others and have a better sense of pride (if the uniform is smart and attractive to the individual in my opinion!) You have such a great writing style and I can’t wait to follow your blog, discussing the topics as they are addressed! x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Kara! I know, we’ve got opinions from Canada, New Zealand, and Great Britain coalescing here! I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts. Do you have a personal experience with uniforms? Yes, I too agree with the pride factor; I’ve seen it really make a difference for some of my students.

      Thank you for the lovely comment and have a great day.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Nicely written. I think that personally, as a person who would wear uniforms to school, that it does not help students socially. I have been in situations where students still act disrespectful toward another peer, even if they fellow student is still wearing the same uniform as them.

    Liked by 1 person

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