For as long as the school system has existed, so has the rule of all attending students having to wear a standardised uniform. This is a common sight across the world from the ages of five to late teens, and though it is certainly a school tradition that seems to have largely stood the test of time, there has always been different varieties of opposition to the rule, primarily from students themselves and the parents of students who are also against the uniform nature of the rule. However, something that is much less talked about and discussed in an official capacity is the notion that teachers too should wear a uniform during the school week. This begs the question, should those in charge lead by example and wear a uniform to work, just as they are asking their students to do?
Many of the arguments for instituting a school uniform often revolved around the fact that school officials believe it will create a level playing field for all students, making them the same, regardless of class status and wealth. Whilst this seems like a sensible and common sense option in theory, the truth is that young people will always find ways to differentiate themselves from others, whether it be through hair accessories, quality of shoes or simply in the cleanliness of the uniform that they are wearing. Students might be dressed in the same clothes, but that does not necessarily make them automatically identical.
When it comes to the idea that teachers should also be required to wear a uniform of sorts whilst at school, some would argue that in their smart casual, friendly yet professional choices of shirts, ties and trousers (in most cases), they have already decided to don a specific outfit for their job. However, the difference here is that teachers have a degree of freedom in their clothing choices, whilst students are limited only to the garments that have been deemed acceptable and required by a board higher up in the chain.
Rather than developing a uniform for adult teachers to wear on a daily basis, it seems as though the most sensible and achievable option for equality between parties in the classroom is for students to be granted the same freedoms that their teacher’s enjoy, within the same limitations of the professional school environment. Just as a teacher would be chastised for wearing something inappropriate in the classroom, so should a student, but that does not mean that one should be trusted to dress appropriately whilst the other is forced to weara the same outfit for five days of the week.
The right to express oneself is an important part of the growing up process, and whilst school should always be seen as a centre of learning first and foremost, it is also an important environment of self expression for all students getting through it together. Ultimately, I feel that rather than a strict uniform system being in place, a more attractive option on all side is to develop a ‘dress code’ system similar to that of the teachers. Teachers are trusted to present themselves in a respectable manner on a daily basis, and students should also be given that privilege. Place warning systems and sanctions for the occasion when the line of acceptability is crossed, but I firmly believe that students should be treated with as much respect as teachers, and that can begin with making the daily uniform issue a level playing field. Teachers should not be wearing uniforms, but neither should the young people they are guiding.