GUEST COLUMN: Make uniforms mandatory in schools

Once thought of as a bad idea, the writer now thinks differently about school uniforms

Derek Lewers

Contributed

When I was younger, my parents wanted me to attend private school. It was something that I didn’t have a problem with, until I learned about the dreaded “school uniform.”

I would sooner have cut off my right arm than wear a uniform. The year was 1986, and that’ was how I thought. There was no way I was going to be stuffed into a uniform and have my peers mock me.

Fast forward some 30 plus years, and I now find myself realizing that the 14 year old me didn’t have a clue, and the uniform would have been a great idea.

This stood out for me recently, as on a recent trip to the Caribbean, I was in a country where all the school children were in uniform.

The first thing I recognized was that I could easily identify students as students, and secondly, how good they all looked.

I knew what I thought of the uniforms when I saw them, but appreciated that the nearly 50-year-old me is just that, nearly 50, and that my views on the subject are most likely not in line with the youth of the day.

So, since I found myself riding a lot of public transit during my stay, I decided to engage with the local youth while on the buses and at the bus stops, and ask them what they thought of their uniforms.

To my surprise, the response from these children ages from about 9-17, were unanimous. They all loved their uniforms. When I asked why that was, the answers were again, nearly unanimous, with the 2two top factors being, they didn’t have to shop for clothes, and secondly, they were all the same and not judged on appearance.

It was with the second reason that I really understood how school uniforms are the great equalizer. There is a long standing saying, you never get a second chance to make a first impression, and being that the clothes we wear every day cover more than 90 per cent of our bodies, we are judged by the clothes we wear.

Moving our schools to a uniform would be the great equalizer. It would not matter rich or poor, all children would, for the most part, look the same. The children would then have the opportunity to be judged by both teachers and peers, for what is on the inside. They would not face criticism from their peers if they didn’t have the latest fashion, or if someone had worn out shoes, and bullying based on appearance would almost disappear.

There is also the great opportunity to create healthy rivalries between schools and renew school pride.

Now some of you are going to argue about freedom of expression and individuality. I can assure you, I thought of this too, and I asked these kids about that.

Not one of them expressed any concern about that, and they said that after school they have their own expression of dress and individuality. I can also say first hand, that the adult population of this island nation certainly did not lack individuality or seemed oppressed in their freedom of expression.

I also take a look around me, and see where uniforms come into play in the adult world, from Walmart, to pest-control, to UPS and our emergency services and beyond. Our adult world is full of uniforms and in many cases, we admire and respect those wearing them.

So, you see, it appears the 14-year-old me was wrong (shocker), and I should have embraced the change.

For those that are wondering, no, I never did go to private school, because I dug in on this issue. Only time will tell if I am better or worse off for that decision back then, but looking back then and looking forward now, I can say with all certainty, that uniforms should be mandatory in schools, for everyone’s benefit.

•••

Derek Lewers is a long-time political commentator, activist, and the father of two boys. He lives in Sooke.

Column

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Saanich Police respond to petition for new police agency on Lindsay Buziak murder case

Petition asks Public Safety Minister to to help find justice for slain realtor

Greater Victoria has Canada’s sixth-highest ‘moving penalty’

Disparity between vacant/occupied units incentivizes renovictions and reduces mobility, researcher says

Oak Bay council looks to whittle down tax increase from 8.05 per cent

Draft financial plan continues hyper-focus on replacing aging infrastructure

Teams finalized in last push before Pan Am Cross Country Championships

The competition is taking place at Bear Mountain Resort in Langford on Feb. 29

Fashion Fridays: The 8 best quality online stores! Shop the ultimate sales

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

POLL: Do you support the proposed changes for ICBC?

Tuesday’s provincial budget predicted a shift from shortfall to surplus in wake… Continue reading

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Feb. 18

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

B.C., Ottawa sign sweeping 30-year deal for northern caribou habitat

West Moberly, Saulteau co-manage new protection on two million acres

Suspect at large after stealing seaplane before crashing into another in Vancouver

Police responded to the incident at 3:30 a.m. on Friday at Vancouver Harbour

PHOTOS: 2020 BC Winter Games kick off in Fort St. John

More than 1,000 of B.C.’s best athletes will be competing over the next three days

Meet the Wet’suwet’en who want the Coastal GasLink pipeline

Supporters of the pipeline are upset only one side is being heard nationwide

Shopping cart collector at B.C. Costco awarded $583,000 after getting pinned by car

Kurtis Ryan Burdeniuk, 22, was retrieving carts when a driver backed into him in the parking lot

‘Usain Bolt he was not’: B.C. gang police seize drugs, cash after foot chase

‘The man took off running when he saw our officers approaching,’ CFSEU BC says

Most Read