School Uniforms – an Uniformity or Conformity ?

The recent hoo-ha raging in Germany over the introduction of experimental uniform policies in one or two German schools in Spandau sparks off yet another emotionally charged lesson in conformity; or non-conformity, depending on your point of view.

King's School, Canterbury memorial court.

Basic objections of the average German parent seem to be founded in unpleasant reminders of the Nazi party regalia. This is an interesting departure from the American argument, which principally champions the right of pupils to dress like punk rockers, which evidently makes the average student feel more confident and boosts a sense of individuality.

I still think our students are smart enough to find out what pushes our parental buttons. They then proceed to push them mercilessly, in pursuit of freedom from woolly skirts and silly hats and who could blame them?

As an ex-wearer of one of the most hateful uniform combinations possible, I feel I should point out that at no time did the chafing of my regulation flannel sports culottes incite a feeling of fascist revulsion. Neither did I care whether my school scarf undermined my human rights. My only motive was comfort and most of my uniform provided me with enough warmth and freedom of movement to provide that amply.

The main reason schools in America choose not to allow their students to wear their own clothes is because of the gangs. Having a uniform stops gang members from displaying their colours and garb. The schools also believe it helps stop violence and helps instill a sense of pride in the students. It also helps to break down the barriers between different socioeconomic groups.

Below are some opinions taken from a messageboard regarding the issue:

“I feel we should keep to the uniform. It sets an example of the school. It is representation the community. It is easy to point out different people. Also there would be more fights/bullly's due to the lack of 'fashion'. “

It has been observed that wherever gang wars and group clashes existed in schools, with uniforms introduction, such fights have reduced significantly.

Wearing school uniform has brought the awareness in children that they represent the particular school in front of all public and their conduct is likely to effect their school's reputation. Therefore they are hesitant to do anything that can bring disrespect to their school. This way uniform has aided as a deterrent to unwanted action or unruly behavior outside the school.

Whether uniforms are brought back into regulation or not, it is refreshing that our students feel they can object and argue so vigorously without fear of reprisal. I have no doubt that any untoward remark made to any of my ex headmistresses on the subject of uniform would have resulted in stern admonishment. However, it would be even more satisfying if such efforts were expended upon academic commitments both by pupils and parents, instead of the crusade to win the uniform debate.