High School Blues

As a child I went to private Catholic Schools my entire life until my senior year. My senior year, I moved to Pennsylvania and went to a public school. In a private school, we were required to wear uniforms. On our way to school, some took a public transportation, some were dropped off by their parents and others drove their own cars. My first few days in the school, I noticed that some students wore different colors and some even wore their own polo shirts. I later learned that freshman and sophomore students wore blue sweaters, juniors wore red sweaters, and seniors wore white cardigans and their own polo shirts. Everyone wanted to wear their own casual outfits, which were only a luxury granted on dress down day or on the occasional day where you were allowed to donate a dollar to be able to dress down.

As an adult I now understand that the school was trying to not separate students based on their status. According to Penn State, “individual differences are almost exactly what they sound like: the particular aspects of people that make them different from other people (2019).” Even as a kid I noticed this, subconsciously. I did not understand why and what the differences I was noticing at first. Even though we mostly wore uniforms, wealth and status were still shown in other ways. Aside from being a to schools in the UK where high schools banned Canada Goose and Moncler jackets (John, 2018). According to High school bans Canada Goose and Moncler jackets to protect poorer children,they want to limit the inequality between the disadvantaged students, so this does not stigmatize the students and affect the student’s performance (John, 2018). This also sounds very similar to my school also having limited the days they are allowed to dress down.

I understand that being bullied will have a great effect on children especially in the years they are still trying to figure out who they are. Schools want to ensure that students only have to worry about learning and building their intelligence, which Penn State describes as how effective someone is when performing activities that require thought (2019). According to John, teachers avoid asking how student’s weekends were to avoid having poorer students called out for not being able to afford to do something on the weekends. As Penn State notes, the biodata and the differences from your background like your race, where you were born and the family you were born into has a huge effect on your entire life. As my school tried to unify its students within a dress code, there were a few ways the wealthy would be able to show their status. Some were able to afford expensive shoes, cars, jewelry, ties, newest phones and backpacks, just a few of ways they could stand out.

I understand that this practice. This is definitely necessary being that some people may not want to be shunned just because of their status. This only perpetuates the justice that kids face every day. As students learning should be the most important thing on their mind. Students as well as their parents should not have to worry about how they appear to other students based on their looks or what they have.

 

Resources

 

John, Tara. “High School Bans Canada Goose and Moncler Jackets to Protect Poorer Children.” CNN. November 17, 2018. Accessed March 21, 2019. https://www.cnn.com/2018/11/16/uk/poverty-proof-school-gbr-scli-intl/index.html.

 

Penn State. (2019) Lesson 8: Individual Differences. Retrieved from

https://psu.instructure.com/courses/1963919/pages/l08-individual-differences-defined?module_item_id=25808477

One Comment

  1. Adriana Vargas Smith March 24, 2019 at 8:04 PM #

    Unit 04 Comment

    Hi Juwan,

    I really enjoyed reading about your perspective on school uniforms. I had to wear a school uniform in elementary school and middle school. When I moved to Pennsylvania for high school, they did not require school uniforms.
     
    During my time in the schools that did require uniforms, many people argued with the requirement. Students could be sent home, placed in detention, or even suspended for multiple offenses. Many students and parents argued that this was unfair because school uniforms did not allow students to express their “unique personalities.” The school responded that these policies allowed everyone to fit in, as you discussed, and it helped teach students responsibility. In particular, I believe that the school was trying to teach students agreeableness and conscientiousness (PSU, 2019). Agreeableness is the tendency for one to confirm to social norms and to be accepting of others (Northouse, 2015). If children are all dressed the same (or very similarly), then it seems likely that they will be more accepting of students from various socio-economic status levels. Additionally, the school seems to believe that requiring uniforms will help teach students to be organized, dependable and thoughtful, as they would have to plan and prepare their outfits according to the school requirements.  
     
    That said, I agree with you that there are subtle ways that students are able to show their wealth. Expensive coats, sneakers and watches can all fall within the dress code, while still alienating low-income students. Interestingly enough, school uniforms can be quite expensive! While the I was unable to find exact amount of money that is spent on meeting these school guidelines in the United States, in England, about 1 in 6 parents said that they had to cut back on basic essentials, like food, in order to pay for their children’s school uniforms (School, 2018). Furthermore, a Japanese study found that wearing school uniforms tends to lower schoolgirls’ emotional stability (Lee, Ito, Kubota, & Ohtake, n.d.). The study noted that there is a link between clothing and self-perception, which is especially strong for females, so school uniforms can lower the female students’ degree of self-acknowledgment (Lee et al., n.d.). Meanwhile, school uniforms tend to positively affect prosocial tendencies and reciprocal inclinations among the male students (Lee et al., n.d.). For the males, the uniforms can enhance their belonging to the organization (in-group), while also supporting conformity to the organizational goals (Lee et al., n.d.).
     
    Based on this information, I believe that schools that require school uniforms should be able to provide assistance to families that need help to purchase the increasingly expensive clothing for their children. I also think that the school should allow small ways that students can show a bit of individuality, especially for female students. My high school (which did not require uniforms) had a school store that sold silicone wristbands, headbands, school colored rings and other items that helped to promoted school spirit without being too costly (items were typically $2 or less). I wonder if these kinds of items would be affordable ways that students could promote school spirit and bond over their unique style selections, without violating their dress-code aimed at uniting students.  
     
    References
    Lee, S., Ito, T., Kubota, K., & Ohtake, F. (n.d.). Noncognitive Traits and Social Preferences Formulated by Elementary School Uniforms.
    Northouse, P. G. (2015). Leadership ethics. In Leadership: Theory and practice. Washington, DC: SAGE.
    PSU. (2019). PSY 833: Ethics and leadership. Retrieved from https://psu.instructure.com/courses/1963919
    School uniform costs force families into debt. (2018, August 23). Retrieved from https://www.childrenssociety.org.uk/news-and-blogs/press-releases/school-uniform-costs-force-families-into-debt

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