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Why do people feel so emotional about this school uniform thing? Why do I get so angry about it?  Here's my theory; when we think about high school things, it makes us remember how we felt then and we feel some of your teenage emotions again.  Those emotions colour the way we approach any of our ideological arguments about what's the right thing for our kids.

When talking about uniforms, people talk about their embarrassment and the anxious feelings about fitting in and frequently talk about uniforms being the thing that will fix that.  But here's the thing:  being a teenager is about being embarrassed and anxious about fitting in.

The other difficulty in discussing this is the bike shed problem.    Almost everyone went to school, we were all teenagers once and we either wore a uniform or we didn't.

When we're aware of all this, we can put aside those teenage emotions and our "expertise" and look for the real stuff.  Discussing a school uniform is not really about bullying or cost or making people think that the school is a good one.  It's about our approach to making teenagers into adults.

I want my adult children to be comfortable with themselves and able to spot the people who will contribute positively to their lives and cast off the ones that don't.   I want them to be creative and able to try something new.  I also want them to develop independent living skills like dressing appropriately and fashionably and to manage their money in a way that prioritises the things that are important for them. 

I think they can either learn that at school or at Uni, and I'd rather they did it at school where they have a level of supervision and they can still eat if they spend all of their money on clothes.


Here's my memory of clothes and high school;  I went to a high school without a uniform.  I spent my time transitioning from a person who went shopping for clothes with her mum, to a person who was given an allowance for clothes shopping and organised op-shop expeditions with her friends.  I experimented with my hair - it was shaved short, it was dyed, it was cut by hairdresser trainees, it was cut by my sister and it was cut by other students.  I experimented with how many days I could wear a thing before people commented and I tried out being fashionable and being comfortable. I learned that it's hard work to come up with something that looks amazing every day - you have to do your washing for a start!.  Getting up up every day and having to find clothes that are both clean and will work is difficult but you have to develop routines and standards that work for your personal image AND your care factor.  There are also the days when everything comes together and you can look amazing, and you work out how to have that happen more often.  By the end of year 12 I wore clothes that had a particular style and that I could rotate through as little as possible.  I was ready for uni.



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