A school uniform is described as a set of standardized clothes that are worn by all students who attend an educational institution. The standards or regulations that surround the school uniform are placed by the school itself. A style guide or regulatory rule book is published by the school to inform parents exactly how to dress their children.
School uniforms have been used in countries like Thailand, Indonesia, India, and Pakistan since the British colonial period. In England, uniforms were introduced to schools in the sixteenth century, and the United States saw its first standardized dress code in 1979.
Standardized dress at school is useful for the same reason that medical uniforms or general work uniforms are. They provide unity in appearance regardless of sex, race, or class. Also, the uniform creates an atmosphere of professionalism and sophistication. School uniforms also offer several benefits to both parents and children.
1. School uniforms increase academic performance. A study published by Notre Dame in 1998 indicates that schools that adopt school uniforms show a statistical increase in grades across the student population. The study attributes this to the fact that children who wore uniforms were less likely to become distracted. Students who are less distracted are much more attentive to lessons, tests, and other assignments completed at school.
2. Mandatory dress codes and school uniforms help to shape behaviors. When children wear uniforms, they become part of stricter school culture that expects excellence and a proper attitude. The expectations reduce disruptive behaviors, negative attitudes, and violent actions. The U.S.Department of Education states that schools that adopt uniform policies have much lower incidences of violence than other educational institutions.
3. School uniforms reduce social pressures and judgments based on appearance. The human brain naturally categorizes visual information to judge our surroundings. This helps us to navigate the world better, and we judge the way that people look just like we consider the roads, trees, and other objects that we look at. When children see peers dressed in a way that they perceive as bad or out of line with culture norms, a judgement is made. This can lead to negative remarks and bullying behaviors. By providing school uniforms, the judgment over appearance is reduced because all students look the same.
4. Standardized clothing reduces child clothing costs. Schools will choose affordable uniforms for children when adopting a dress code to reduce costs for parents. In some cases, schools even offer monetary subsidies for parents to help reduce the burden of purchasing uniforms. In most cases though, affordable uniforms online can be found that meet dress codes. Only five uniforms or outfits are necessary. This is much different from regular clothing that is often purchased so that dozens of different outfits can be created.