The Christian school that I attended required me and my classmates to wear uniforms. We hated them. Yet, decades later, I’m a fan of school uniforms.
The same can’t be said for everyone, though. Some, believe that school uniforms must be banned because they squash individuality and run roughshod over students’ right to free speech.
One writer asks: “[W]hy make it difficult for youth who use their clothes as an expression of their personality?” She adds: “The idea that students should look the same is not desirable and could prevent them from demonstrating a sense of individuality.”
Todd A. DeMitchell, a professor of education, gives credence to the notion that school uniforms suppress free speech and students’ expression of their individuality. In a column posted on The Conversation, DeMitchell includes this pertinent section from a protest against school uniforms staged by students:
[A school uniform] takes away individuality. Also, [it] will not change study habits of students. [It means] too much money [needs to be spent] for each child. Parents do not have that type of money, especially in this economy. We have the right to freedom of expression and would like to keep it that way.“ [And] “its [sic] my right to wake up in the morning and have my own unique individuality.”
While it’s true that the research is inconclusive about the benefits school uniforms provide for increasing academic performance and improving behavior, based on the atrocious paragraph above, school uniforms can’t hurt.
But that’s not really the critics’ concern. Even if it were proven without a shadow of a doubt that school uniforms increased grades and helped promote better behavior, the critics wouldn’t care. For them, the only important question is whether or not school uniforms suppress free speech and the opportunity for students to express their individuality.
For me, even if the critics are right about that: Who cares?
The idol of “individuality” is close to peak stupid in this country. Telling kids that they can be whatever or whomever they want and that they have the right to express whatever they are feeling is partly to blame for the nonsense of gender fluidity that’s infecting our society. Instead of encouraging not-yet-developed brains to express every feeling and belief they have, adults should be teaching our kids that some things should not be expressed.
Learning how to obey and to value the whole over the part are important tools to have upon entering adulthood. Kids entering the workforce who believe that their every whim should be catered to end up unproductive and a problem in the workplace.
My classmates and I hated our uniforms, and we made the exact same complaints that students today are making. Thankfully, our teachers and school administrators ignored our self-serving whining. The uniforms may not have helped us perform better in school, but they helped keep us from believing that our feelings are all-important.
I agree with DeMitchell when he says: “School uniforms alone cannot bring about a sustained or large-scale change.” But complaints that school uniforms suppress free speech and prohibit students from expressing their individuality should be ignored, if not shouted down.