Should You Wear a Uniform at School?
Debate Rounds (5)
As I'm a bit of a terror for definitions, could we agree on what we're counting as a school in this debate? As it's your debate idea, you can choose, and I'll go with whatever you decide. I should warn you now I'm British, so we may have different school systems.
Ages 4-11/ Primary school
Ages 11-16/ Secondary school
Ages 16-19/ Sixth Form
Are we discussing all of these groups of children/teenagers, or just some?
See you in the debate.
Thank you. I can't wait to hear your arguments.
P.S. Since I'm from America, I'll be calling secondary school middle school or junior high. I just want you to be aware that I might use one in place of the other on occasion in my arguments.
School uniforms are an outdated tradition that does more harm than good. The first issue I will put forward is that, contrary to popular belief, students most certainly don't look 'uniform' when they wear them. Some kids will roll up their skirts, or leave their shirt untucked, or their tie loose. Others will do the opposite, and have all the buttons done up, their blazer on and their hair tidy. What words immediately spring to mind? Just by describing ways of wearing uniforms, you know I am talking about the 'popular girls', the boys who are always in trouble, the geeks and the nerds. There is only a small range of adjustments you can make to a uniform, but what children do makes them fit in - or not fit in - to certain social groups. With school uniforms, your friends can rapidly become the people who look like you, and vice versa. There is no range, no variety. And because teenagers look constantly for hierarchy, a pecking order quickly emerges.
A student should not be able to simply look at what another student wears and feel they can place them into their social 'ranking'. With more styles and less rules, comes greater variety and change.
The second issue I will discuss is the idea that some students 'conform' to school rules and are good kids, and others 'rebel' against school rules on uniform and are bad kids. Obviously, students have many, complex reasons for refusing to obey the commands of teachers. But attacking the way a student wears uniform is an attack on their social group, their style, and their character. It's intimate and personal and generally disastrous - the teacher can't dress the student, and everyone is fully aware of that. So it becomes a rebellion against authority, one in which 'losing' means the public humiliation of dressing differently, and 'winning' means expressing your style. These kinds of silly, petty arguments about uniform merely develop ill will between teacher and student. The rules can seem stupid and arbitrary, and teachers' authoritarian, at a time when students need to be looking to their teachers for rules to follow.
These are my first two arguments. I look forward to Pro's response.
First of all, uniforms in school can prepare you for future jobs. Whether it be at an office or a grocery store, an estimated 40-60% of jobs require uniforms. If uniforms are implemented early, then it won't be so jarring when you eventually get a job
Secondly, it creates a professional environment. Students won't be distracted by what your wearing, since they're all wearing the same clothes. This puts the focus on the education and not just your clothes.
Thirdly, you most likely won't be bullied for what you wear. There are many different types of people at school: the rich, the poor, a little in between. Not everyone can afford what others can wear. This excludes the poorer students who don't have the greatest quality of clothing.
While uniforms can be expensive, you can get 4-5 different uniforms and even less if you wash them. This lasts an entire year, or multiple years if you stay the same size.
And lastly, the dress code is easier to enforce. With a uniform, you know what will pass and what won't; you have to tuck in your shirt, wear a belt, etc. But when regular, everyday clothes are allowed to be worn, it's harder to decide what will pass and what won't. The boundaries become very fuzzy and it gets confusing to keep track of every little thing that you can and can't do.
Thank you for reading my opening statements and good luck. I'm looking forward to con's response after my rebuttal.
Con has made some very good arguments, and I will address these before furthering my own argument. The question of cost is the most pressing. It is true that overall, there would be a greater cost in wearing home-clothes. However, I think it's easy to overestimate this. All children have home clothes for holidays, and only a small amount more would be needed to wear at school. When wearing ordinary clothes everyday, the pressure on wearing up to date fashions also decreases.
There are a lot of people on different budgets at schools. However, non-uniform days can actually highlight this difference far more - everyone is wearing their best, and kids who are either on low budgets or lack fashion sense stand out far more. Clearly, the big name brands like Hollister would still abound among richer students, but these are still being 'shown off' on non-uniform days, on Facebook and outside of school, so the effect would be minimal.
Wearing a school uniform is, in my opinion, detrimental for people going into work and wearing one. For many students, being untidy with their uniform is a part of everyday life, and being told off for having an untucked shirt or a loose tie seems of little importance. In school, this could mean detention at worst; at work, it can easily result in preventing a promotion or being put in disciplinary measures. Better be it for students to be nervous about wearing a uniform than acting disrespectfully in their first job because they don't realise the importance of it. The same can be said about schools being a professional environment. At schools, there is rarely any respect towards the institution being shown through the uniform - rather, some kids make a few alterations, others just put up with it, and several more will deliberately misrespect it.
Boundaries for uniform are always loose. At what point is a girl's rolled up skirt acceptable? How many times caught without a tie on is too many? Clearer, stricter rules can be put in place, such as 'skirts must be no less than two-thirds of the way down the thigh'. The issue with school uniform is that the rules are written to be followed exactly, but never are, so when broken by everyone, there is no clear guidelines for dealing with problems.
Other important considerations are how suitable school uniforms really are for students. Most are worn year round, yet are absolutely freezing in Winter, when you really want to be wearing about three layers and several pairs of socks, not thin tights. I am here talking about areas that don't change uniform for Winter, and insist on the same clothing.
One of my most serious issues with school uniforms is that they pressurise girls into wearing skirts. This, quite simply, is sexist. Many schools allow girls to wear trousers if they wish - but only if they overcome the social stigma of wearing 'boys clothes'. This firstly stops young girls from being able to take part in the rough and tumble of 'boys games', which although banned in most schools, should not be constricted only to boys by the uniform students wear. It also stops girls being able to play games like football - any girl on a windy day knows her only options are to clutch her skirt or stay indoors. This, quite frankly, is ridiculous.
I look forwards to the next round of debate.
missbailey8 forfeited this round.
Francie123 forfeited this round.
Yes, while there are only small adjustments you can make to the actual uniform, you can wear accessories, hair, makeup, etc.
"With school uniforms, your friends can rapidly become the people who look like you, and vice versa." The way you wear a uniform doesn't automatically mean you're part of a certain "social group", nor does it say who you are. A student can't exactly look at someone and know exactly who they are based on their uniform.
In fact, can't you say the same thing about wearing your usual clothing? Actually, I would argue that your regular clothes make it easier to place others in a social group.
"Obviously, students have many, complex reasons for refusing to obey the commands of teachers. But attacking the way a student wears uniform is an attack on their social group, their style, and their character." You can say the exact same thing for not wearing uniforms. And like I said before, a teacher can't immediately tell who a student is based on the way they wear the uniform. I wouldn't say it an attack on their social group because a teacher advises a student how to wear the uniform.
Thank you for the debate. I quite enjoyed it.
Francie123 forfeited this round.
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