School uniforms – for the parents, kids or government?

What does it mean to be uni-form? What do our clothes say about us? Without freedom to wear “our” clothes whom does it serve to impose uniforms on school students? Maybe this joke can put some perspective on the question;

What’s the definition of a jumper? It’s the garment a small boy wears – when his mother’s feeling cold!

So, when we impose something on someone else, no matter how well intentioned, who are we really doing it for?

Currently, the good minister of education, Mr Quinn, is planning to ballot parents, to “empower them” as the modern p.c. world would say. But who empowers children, some of whom are up on 19? O.k. they might not be the ones paying for the uniforms but they do wear them so at least give them a say. It’s called democracy, rule by the people (demos-kratos).

Uniforms raise another question; does school prepare us for life/work? Leaving Cert students wear horrible tacky uniforms until the day they finish school. The day after they finish they are expected to go in to offices, businesses and multi-national companies yet have never learned to dress for work, they won’t even own a suit.

The reason the minister wants to ballot parents on this issue is purely for economic reasons, they are paying for the uniforms and balloting them gives them a little say in the schooling of their children. Read my letter on it published in today’s Irish Times.

A Uniform Question
Sir, – Parents are to be balloted about what children (presumably up to age 18/19) are to wear at school (Home News, November 11th). In recent times architects have won awards for designing school buildings without considering the people who inhabit them, their parents or the staff who work in them.

As usual, the people at the centre of this debate, children, are not to be asked their opinion. That would require respect, empowerment of children and democracy. We’d then have to consider them citizens. How awful! – Yours, etc,

Uniforms remind me of  factories. Like a sausage machine where everyone goes in at the same age, is fed the same ingredients for the same length of time and all pile out the other end at the same time, looking the same with the same result. Unless of course you dare to be different like Mark Zucherberg, Richard Branson, Bill Gates or the great medical reformer, Dr Samuel Hahnemann, etc. Wearing uniforms cannot be reduced to a debate based on economics alone, in fact it’s pretty irrelevant.

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