The Middle East Tribune

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Suppressing Student’s Individuality

students-running

Parents, schoolteachers and educationists are divided on the issue of school uniform. there are big differences of opinion among parents and school administrations to which they are split into two debating camps, opponents and supporters. While one camp favors and commends wearing school uniforms, the other totally oppose it.

This controversy of whether or not students should wear costumes has imposed its shadows over private and public school systems alike. However, the real concern should be over whether enforcing school dress code has unfavorable effects on our children or not.

Uniform proponents argue that wearing school uniforms create a sense of school spirit, which in turn will lead to scholastic pride and thus to academic achievements. They also claim that wearing costumes make students identifiable, from intruders, to teachers and staff during their presence at school and on their way to and from school. They assert that school costume make students behave better during their unescorted passage to school.

Opponents, however, counter argue that uniforms make students easily identifiable not just to teachers and security guards but to common aggressors as well. They also claim that there is no evidence about student’s en route social behavior improvement, seeing that trouble-making students tend to take off their costumes as they leave their schools.

Actually, many social critics and scientific researchers, like Kerry Rockquemore and David Brunsma, argue that school uniforms have no positive effect on behavioral problems or attendance of students. On the contrary, they established that there are negative effects on academic achievement when students are forced to wear costumes, since they feel oppressed.

Uniform promoters believe that wearing uniforms promote a sense of community, which helps students focus on their schoolwork not on their social standing. They also claim that wearing uniforms act as social levelers, as it removes peer pressure on the less prosperous to own stylish and classy cloth since everyone is wearing the same clothes. For them, costumes help to foster feelings of equality among less rich students because rich teens are inclined to wear the latest and most costly fashions, while non-rich students may feel jealous and frustrated thereof.

Yet, in the absence of valid proof to support this claim, many families persuasively argue that adopting uniforms does not blur economic status. Considering that wealthier students could wear accessories and jewelry, such as expensive watches and mobile phones, for example, or purchase several new uniforms to reduce the look of wear and tear caused from over wearing of one or two costume.

In all probabilities, the philosophy of having a social leveler is rather inconsistent, given that social gaps and societal sorting will always exist. Actually, it is far easier and better for individuals to adapt with these social disparities at younger age, instead of facing it afterwards.

The most critical argument against uniforms is that uniforms suppress student’s individuality and personal liberty, as educators may not deal with students as individuals, but as identical persons, which may hinder student’s creative abilities and limit their personal choices and preferences.

In a diversified society, like in the Middle East, devout parents and students consider that costumes are indecent and impractical. In some cases, girls, for example, complain about being forced to wear clothe that do not fit with their personal needs or conservative social requirements, such as skirts and shirts, whereas they think that wearing pants or maxi outfits are more convenient and decent for them.

In contrast to that conservative inclination, most reports indicate that modern teenagers, females and males alike, who are forced to wear school costumes, usually peel it off while on their way to and from school. This actuality contradicts the idea that school uniform eliminates the impulse for fashionable cloth and thereof cuts spending on clothing. However, middle and working class families accusingly argue that school organizations that require particular uniformity monopolize the provision of uniforms to make extra profits, disregarding the added pecuniary burden on these families.

At its best, wearing school uniform is a pointless procedure that does not create a real sense of equality among students nor restrict their social behavior outside school. Above all, wearing of school uniform will not improve children’s ability to learn or help in the progress of schools. Since academic achievements and thus school progress largely depends on the conscience, hard work and professionalism of the teaching communities.

Evidently, good schooling should not limit personal choices and individuality of our youngsters just to promote a misleading picture of equality and order. Instead, besides objective teaching, schools should direct their efforts to nurture and promote open-minded traits so that these countries can have forward-thinking generations.

In due time, the inevitable precondition for educational progress is to go through an overhauling process of the current schooling system and supervision methods so that it comprises contemporary curriculums and liberal upbringing concepts of which students and schools alike become more proficient to cope with the incoming future.

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18 comments on “Suppressing Student’s Individuality

  1. Former pupil
    March 23, 2014

    I agree that the ability to do well in school is not predicated on wearing a uniform or otherwise.

    However, I remember well how cruel kids can be. Even with uniforms kids in my school from the more affluent spectra found a way to distinguish themselves from the rest of us.

    I guess the point is that if you are financially challenged having to maintain just one mode of attire makes life bearable amongst your affluent peers.

    Further more, I remember never having to agonise about what to wear, which was often the the case on special school days when we were allowed to wear our own clothes.

    I do not believe uniforms stifle individuality at all, because children with independent streaks will always find a way to be unique. In fact, I think the wearing of the uniform gives children necessary boundaries and prepares them for the fact that in life there are some rules that we all need to obey as a society.

    Like

  2. nonentiti
    March 22, 2014

    Great topic. I have discussed this for a long time in my books (especially those for young people) and in discussion groups.
    The reason for this divide, as I see it, is that not all people have the same personality type: Those with a tendency to put the group above the individual – those who believe that we all have to give for the greater good – will consider uniforms something positive. They truly believe it helps children belong, but what they do is project their own needs and beliefs on all children. Those who oppose it feel that the group should allow for all individuals, so that you cannot make them into numbers – which is what uniforms do.
    The population is roughly 50:50 divided in this inborn tendency, regardless of culture, gender or race – because personality types go deeper.
    What the adults who make these decisions need to start understanding is that these differences are inborn and cannot be changed, so that some children are being harmed by being made into a number. Their self is being denied if they have to wear a uniform, which comes down to discrimination.
    So far, that discrimination can be considered unintentional, because not enough people understand the personality types yet, but nonetheless, the harm is there.

    Like

  3. Anonymous
    March 20, 2014

    All coments presented here are well conceived and delivered. Hindsight reflction of studentship from a comunity that enforced uniforms informs that children should be guided toward attaining adult functional standards. Schools are standards molding institutions. Standards obtained from school are dynamic, and serve as negotiating skills for survival of individuals as adult in competitive worlds in which they live. So what is the point here?

    In preparation of students for profitable future, divisive and deviative factors need to be eliminated. Recommending uniforms for students puts all at equal social level that eliminates unneeded income/background differences among students. Uniform encourages communal and global oneness on school grounds. The children see each other as members of one family, and source for friendship and learning. Alternatively, schools that fail to prescribe uniforms for students introduce those background differences based on materialism. Suffice to say that this situation encourages higher drop out rate simply because the economically disadvantaged fail to cope with trendy viabilities. This is just one of the advantages of encouraging individuality on school premisies. Any take on this perspective :-)?

    Like

  4. Anonymous
    March 19, 2014

    Uniform can be considered a type of labeling which may dismiss personality, holistic self-grow, force to limitations and imitation.

    The positive side can be the proof of identity, but…..it is relevant to observe under and over which personal and social interests and aims.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Karen
    January 6, 2014

    An interesting discussion, and from the comments I can see that most people responding to your blog agree that the forced conformity of uniforms should be a thing of the past. It would seem that school administrators are still in the old days because they continue to think that this is a proper condition to place on a student. I have great respect for educators of all kinds because they are doing a very important job in society. Unfortunately, some of them, not all, become obsessed with their power and feel that unless a student is totally faceless and submissive the educator has not done his or her job. The issue of school uniforms is just one more example of an education system that is behind the times.
    Fortunately, there are many good teachers out there who manage to teach and mentor their students without engaging in a power struggle. They are able to appreciate the individuality of each student no matter what the clothes.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Joseph Dennis Kelly
    March 10, 2013

    I agree that schools should not limit the individuality of students, but instead promote it while teaching them core social value. Wearing uniforms, as if they were in the military, inhibits young people and does not promote positive self-development because the individual can never — especially during childhood, those years crucial to developing an independent sense of self — blossom. What children need is a dress code that helps guide them in making socially acceptable decisions for self-expression, not rules telling them that each day they must mindless adorn themselves in the uniform of an institution, to become characters in costume (I love this clarification) playing a role that others are scripting for them.

    I attended a Catholic grade school (1-8) and a public high school. I mindlessly wore a uniform for those Catholic school years. I did not do well in academic. I felt no camaraderie with my classmates because of how we dressed. It all came down to individual actions and shared activities. When I finally made it to high school, I felt I could find my place in that society and felt free to be who I wanted to be, who I wanted to test myself at being within a diverse society of individuals without needing to worry that I would be punished (literally, and very harshly and physically too in Catholic school) if I did not follow the required dress code. Living by a dress code, especially for a child, is uncomfortable and unnecessarily restricts the natural impose to think, feel, and enjoy life as only children can.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mohammad S. Moussalli
      March 11, 2013

      Your story is a good illustration of why school uniform is not favorable anymore. Good argument Joseph. Thanks

      Like

  7. rita57
    June 16, 2012

    Uniforms can be a form of label….although in other way they stop all the actual dress up to go to school like going for a party and exhibition or show off…all that is necessary is a balance, maybe have the uniform for those who want and choose to wear it, and not mandatory. I went to catholic school for 5 years always in a type of uniform (“bata” in portuguese), and really enjoyed it, never had to worry about what to dress or not, and it gives a sense of equality and not competition through clothing, between all school fellows.

    http://www.linkedin.com/groupAnswers?viewQuestionAndAnswers=&discussionID=124785998&gid=2135166&trk=eml-anet_dig-b_nd-pst_ttle-cn&ut=0z2xRUgUVWLlg1

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    • M. Moussalli
      June 16, 2012

      I respect your argument and opinion. However, I prefer giving our young people the choice to choose what how they want to present themselves. This is firstly because I think they shoud live in this real world, where people are and look different, not to simulate a platonic life. Secondly to let the underprivilged (if that was the case) know that they can excel regardless of their look or social standing.
      Maybe, as you commented, the best feasible solution is to let them choose.
      Thank you for your comment

      Like

  8. Beleza Gomana
    May 29, 2012

    Well done. I appreciate your thoughts and share the same point of view. To be successful in school it takes much more than an uniform. The most important aspect is the perspective of achievement. There is a need to reform the “ideology” of school uniforme.
    Thanks.

    Like

    • M. Moussalli
      May 31, 2012

      Thanks to you Beleza. I agree that there is a need to reevaluate and hence reform the issue

      Like

  9. Anonymous
    May 29, 2012

    Well done. I appreciate your thoughts and share the same point of view. To be successful in school it takes much more than an uniform. The most important aspect is the perspective of achievement. There is a need to reform the “ideology” of school uniforme.
    Thanks.

    Like

  10. V. MAMUNNI
    April 13, 2012

    Well written.
    School uniforms were introduced to maintain equality looking among the students of various levels, so that not only an optical uniformity, but also the pride and prejudice among the haves and havenots of the student/community are not visible in the school/college campuses. Maligning every good intentions are common practice followed by all, so is the uniforms issue too. In certain countries it has been used to vindicate communal agenda of the school authorities
    by denying wearing certain groups a different format of the same school dress, example head scarf issue in many christian management schools in India,later spread to western countries like France, and others, creating financial gains by insisting on parents to buy school selected company manufactured cloths and also insisting on parents to get the uniforms stiched from a particular Tailor, etc.

    To make every one look like one or to try to make every one equal in a society is a dead idea or ideology. Good, bad, big, small, haves and havenots are all part of society and success rate of any control mechanisam can be gauged only on the basis of our ability to maintain parity among the society we are living in.

    Like

    • M. Moussalli
      April 13, 2012

      Thank you Mr./Ms. V. MAMUNNI for your reflective comment.

      Like

    • Star Lord
      May 19, 2012

      I would be considered poor in the UK and object to school uniforms and uniformity. It is the starting point for the dreaded ‘suit’ in the ‘world of work’ and other forms of obedience and servitude! All part of the process of indoctrination and brainwashing through the supposedly educational institution of the school forgetting that ‘educos’ means ‘to bring out’, and not the blind pouring in of sets of rules, values, & instructions from without whether imparted by the State or Religion.

      Rules are for the obedience of fools and the the guidance of wise men! I would say the same for much else including shcool uniforms/uniformity.

      Everything should be taught philosophically and the children allowed to decide and choose for themselves. Everything should be open to challenge and discussion ie Freedom of Speech in schools, and the right to disagree and agree to differ whether with fellow pupil or teacher. There should be a system of equality and not one of uniformity and not a hierarchy. Philosophy, Logic, Reason, Comparative Religion, and Ethics should all be studied, and an enforced uniform/uniformity is not a good place to begin!

      Many years ago I was impressed by the education system employed by A. S. Neill when reading ‘Summerhill’ and his dealing with those rejected by orthodox schools in the UK. Not to mention the alternative Waldorf schools based upon the ideas of Rudolph Steiner. I don’t know whether they had to wear school uniforms but I doubt it.

      In the UK the school uniform has spread like a disease, along with the National Curriculum and examinations, downwards from the age of 11 when I first had to wear a school uniform at school in the 1970’s. Where has the Freedom of the child gone, sacrificed on the altar of mammon and work as processed cogs in the great machine of industry, though for many in the West no longer the horrors of the Dark Satanic Mills!

      I was forced to wear a school uniform when I went to Secondary Modern school in 1967, but not before that thank God, or should I say Dawkins! And no suit either thank you very much!

      Love, Light & Laughter
      Starlord

      Liked by 1 person

      • M. Moussalli
        May 19, 2012

        Star Lord,
        Your comment is an intersting argument against school uniformity which comes in harmony with my notion and argument. I have made this decision and acted accordingly since long time ago from which my children, now grown adults, were not subjected to this …
        Thank you

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Teacher
    March 19, 2012

    Well written.Thanxs

    Like

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