Thursday, 16 October 2014

Uniforms/uniformity- one less decision to make!

I am not really sure where the idea of a school uniform came from. Perhaps it was an early attempt to standardise clothing in order to reduce parental costs or class discrimination? Whatever the reason, we have a uniform at Bradbury and this is a feature of our school. We have changed, modified and added to it over the years, but it remains basically the same with a few 'upgrades'.

I like the sense of team that a uniform engenders- it is an obvious  sign  of having a place and belonging to a group. On a practical side, in terms of school, it eliminates the need to spend hours deciding on what to wear and how to wear it. If you have daughters like mine, who had very determined ideas about what they would wear to their 'uniformless' primary school, they are a huge stress reducer- as a parent, I would have loved them!



In a Vanity Fair interview, Barack Obama agrees with the elimination of sartorial choice: “You’ll see I wear only gray or blue suits … I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.” Dr. Alan Hilfer, senior psychologist in the Children's and Adolescent Unit at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn says, "Uniforms do eliminate competition, pressure, and assaults perpetrated by older kids on younger kids for their sneakers and other possessions. They also allow some kids to focus better, especially in the lower grades." (FamilyEducation: http://school.familyeducation.com/educational-philosophy/individuality/38676.html#ixzz3GH2JnEJv)

What does a uniform do? It creates a level playing field and equalises our students. It eliminates dress competition and conversations around what is appropriate to wear to school. We see uniforms everywhere, not just in schools- sports, police, Boy Scouts, military and plenty of informal ones as well- like jeans and a tee shirt or an all black business attire. Uniforms show power, rank and affiliation and gives us information about the wearer.

Information about the wearer can be useful for a school. If a student gets separated from the group on a school outing or is involved in an accident somehow, it provides a key to identity and follow up. However, the ability to make an accurate identification about where the wearer is from can also be detrimental, such as the time I received several phone calls from irate members of the public upset about the behaviour of some of our students on their journey home. The caller knew who to ring because of our uniform and I was able to follow the complaint up, much to the horror of those involved!


So, no matter what we think about our actual uniform, uniforms have a place in our world and have a role to play. Wearing the correct school uniform at Bradbury is a sign of respect for the prevailing culture and expectations of our school. Plus- it eliminates just one more decision we have to make on a daily basis!

1 comment:

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