U is for uniform

Posted as part of the a-z challenge.

Uniform. Matching. Indistinguishable from the rest. At school there’s often fights over correct uniform. Many times kids complained to me that it wasn’t fair that I didn’t have to wear uniform and they did. At one school I taught at, the sixth form dress code specified suits or at least shirts, ties and smart trousers for the boys, and people complained that the girls didn’t have to dress up. In both cases, the complainers were wrong, of course; there is a dress code for teachers, and there was a dress code there for the girls, but because it was more flexible, it slipped past without noticing.

Why do we want to be the same as everyone else? Some complain about the stifling of individuality. On the other hand, having a set uniform reduces the need to think about what to wear. I did read that the most successful people wear the same thing all the time – one less thing to worry about.

In some ways, being uniform is good. In many others, it’s rigid and constricting.

I always preferred to wear school uniform. I complained when they stopped ties as part of the girls’ school uniform. I make a point of getting changed into something smart when I go out tutoring, because I feel that if I’m dressed for work then it feels like work; the clothes put me in the right frame of mind.

In the same way, wearing a uniform reminds kids where they are, and what they’re there for. It encourages pride and a sense of belonging.

And schools often can’t cope with creativity and individuality anyway.


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