3 March 2011
School Uniforms: A Non-Military Proposal for Sweden's Students
The word school uniform has negative connotations for many people. It makes them think of war, of soldier, of death, brainwashed airheads doing exactly the same as everybody else. It makes them think of reformed, collectivized groups of people with no personal identity. There are, however, reasons for the existence of the uniform; one of them being, as the name suggests, the purpose of uniting. At schools all around the world the school uniform is a key factor to the success of the students. Sweden currently does not apply the rule of a school dress code, but there is a definitive need for one. School uniforms are economically favorable, morally necessary, team building and they reduce bullying.
School uniforms are popular in many countries all over the world and they usually look quite similar. For girls this means a skirt or pants, a blouse and a blazer; for boys the equivalent is shorts or pants, a shirt and a blazer. Key factors like the climate in which the school is situated and the economical situation of the school's clientèle is of course also taken into account. Colors, fabrics and cut of the garment can vary slightly from north to south and from continent to continent. One place on earth where school uniforms are absent is Sweden. Here private schools use to have obligatory school uniforms and later school hats, but they all disappeared some forty years ago. In 2005, the Swedish Christian Democrats presented a suggestion of a law that would allow schools around the country to decided themselves whether or not they wanted to introduce school uniforms to students. The suggestion was met by protesters and was never brought any further (Hägglund, web). In a country like Sweden where 17 percent of all children (individuals under 18) are from another country or have two parents that are born in another country, that is around 330 000 children (“Children Family Statistics”), adjusting to the new rules written ones and unwritten ones can be hard. Researchers believe that the big increase of immigrants in the Swedish schools is the reason for the increased bullying (Danielsson, 2003) going on in the classrooms and on the playgrounds (Högander, 1999). The Swedish pedagogical scholar Sven Otto Aarland made up a term for this called the ”immigrant syndrome”. He claims that because of their contrasting clothing, dialect or habits, many Swedes consider the immigrants (and even Swedes moving from a small village to a city or the other way around) either a threat or just plain ridiculous, and people that are different are bullied. The answer to better understanding between teenagers who talk or look deviant from the rest of the group might be school uniforms (Aarland, 1988).
The money for clothes may not always be there when immigrants arrive in their new home country having to buy a long list of things to get life started. People seem to believe that school uniforms tend to make bigger holes in the wallet than regular kids' wear, when in fact it is the other way around. Usually children do not start wearing school uniforms until they are at least six years of age. This means that they are no longer growing as rapidly as they used to do when they were toddlers. Most children then only require one set of clothes for school for the whole school year. Most parents probably see it like this mom from the United States: she says that she as two duplicates of every piece of clothing, and on Saturdays or Sundays she just washes every garment that has been used throughout the week and then she does not have to think about it again until next weekend. (Larkin, 2006). That way the children does not have to keep up with the quick changes of fashion, and buy new items of clothing every two weeks. The school uniform is also easier to pass on from one sibling to the next as it never goes out of style and...