Fahnen Kössinger, June 24, 2017

School uniforms - yes or no?

The discussion about whether to wear homogeneous clothing in kindergarten and school is nearly as old as the school system itself. In Great Britain, pupils have been wearing uniform school dresses already since the reign of Henry VIII, which means since the beginning of the 16th century. The Christ’s Hospital School in London was the first school in Europe that demanded from their pupils to appear to classes in uniform apparel. The nationally funded school wanted to enable also children from poorer families to get a better school education. The color blue is still the most widely used in England and her colonies, which dates also back into this time. Blue was then the cheapest textile color and symbolised at the same time humility and modesty.
Elite schools such as Cambridge, on the other hand, wanted to express their mental superiority and the togetherness of their pupils by homogeneous school uniforms.

What are the pros for an introduction of uniform school apparel as King Henry VIII already demanded it?

Studies show that the feeling of togetherness and the overall sense of companionship among pupils is being strengthened when they do not sit in class with their private clothing. The team spirit rises when social differences are not obvious by wearing a pair of famous brand jeans or cheap discounter trousers. The financial situation of the pupils' parents is getting unimportant, the mutual fight to be better than the other by stylish designer clothes or the expression of one's individual points of view such as gothic, punk or emo is no longer possible by wearing a special kind of apparel. Psychologists talk of a strengthening of the individual character when the young people have to express their points of view and attitudes towards life more directly. The priorities are put rather on personality than on outwardness.
For several years, also security reasons are playing a role in the discussion. Strangers at school can be easily sorted out and asked about their right to have entered the building.
And, not to forget the most pragmatic point, it saves a lot of time in the morning not having to think about which outfit to wear at school in order to be as fashionable as possible. Also, the distraction by style competitions or provocative clothing falls away.

But what about personal rights?

The strongest argument against the mandatory wearing of school uniforms is the fear of violating the personal rights of the single pupil. Nobody should be prevented from putting on the clothes that he or she likes most. Adversaries even go so far as to state that the basically positive team spirit might be strengthened so far that it leads to a social exclusion of those pupils that are different from the mass culturally, mentally, or physically. To the same extent that the pro-uniform fraction sees the strengthening of the individual character positively, views the contra fraction just this strengthening as dangerous because it might lead to extreme reactions towards single classmates. Also in armies, wearing a uniform does not protect against mobbing and exclusion. Especially in Germany the wearing of uniforms is still negatively looked upon due to historical reasons. Elite thoughts of single schools may be reinforced.
AIllustration of modern school clothes

Is there a compromise?

Homogeneous school clothing does not necessarily mean blue pleated skirt, grey fabric trousers, white shirt or blouse and maybe a necktie with the school emblem - as we know it from Englis schools. T-shirts in the school colors, polos with an embroidered-on logo or jackets with the name of the school printed on the back allow the identification with the respective school or kindergarten. Such clothing, often promoted as "fashion for groups" is comfortable, comes close to the private clothes and does not have the appearance of a stiff uniform. If you leave a choice to the pupils which color or which piece of clothing out of a pool to wear, nobody feels any compulsion anymore when they are not allowed to wear their private clothing.

Dress Codes

This variation of homogeneous attire is about general regulations of the style of clothes, their colors, cutting and possibly the length of skirts or trousers. In certain business branches such as banks, dress codes exist that restrict the choice in clothing more or less strongly.

Individuality in spite of school clothing

Numerous online shops offer especially compiled collections for kindergartens and schools that can be individually refined by embroidery, flock spraying, and printing. The choice of clothing reaches from baseball caps to T-shirts, from polos to functional jackets. By refining the clothes with text and logo, children and youngsters are offered the opportunity to identify with their school. But the educational establishments also profit from presenting themselves to the outside by fashionable school clothing as a modern institute. Thus, individuality is preserved while at the same time the team spirit is strengthened.