My secondary school has recently instilled a crackdown on the uniform policy, provoking a lot of unrest amongst the students throughout the year groups. As someone who takes pride in individuality, believing that allowing young people to express themselves is a core ingredient to a better quality of life, the clone-like, oppressive and unnecessary enforcement of such uniform rules has really hit home. In conjunction with this, it is clear that the UK’s approach to education is invariably industrialised and archaic, instilling hierarchy and authority, with the absence of creativity and individuality.
Our current education system was designed during the industrial revolution, ignoring the concept of uniqueness. Uniform is a form of oppression. It is enforced to differentiate between those obeying and those to be obeyed. Therefore, a strict uniform policy that is currently being forced upon students in my school, is inadvertently instilling the extreme right wing notion of permanent hierarchy. The senior staff at my school retaliated saying that uniform ‘promotes equality’, which made me chuckle. Yes, there is physical quality between students through looking the same, but what about spiritual equality? Surely giving students the equal ability to express themselves and portray themselves in a way which they are most content with, promotes freedom. Moreover, I can speak on behalf of many, that by being able to express myself and feel unique, I am a more effective learner, more willing to obey authority that allows me the freedom to be myself and instils a generally more accepting and diverse atmosphere. The argument to suggest that uniform creates an absence of bullying based on materialistic wealth is frankly hypocritical. Through a normalisation of clone-like synchronisation, it is creating a more divisive attitude towards various faiths, styles, cultures and interests, due to the absence of familiarisation and acceptance. This is inherently industrialized. Schools are fizzling out every aspect of individuality of our students, diminishing the creativity and imagination essential to success.
Industrialistion endeavours to specifically produce obedient workers; the training to obey authority and follow instructions is deeply engrained in schools today. Linking to Illich’s de-schooling theory, the monotonous structure of examinations, lecturing and a consensus level of progress to follow is designed to determine success through one vehicle, making anyone who does not suit this style of testing, a failure. The industrial age of factory workers based success on the ability to follow instructions, however, in today’s society, success quintessentially derives from the ability to be creative and different. The memory-based inauthenticity of the education process is superfluous, examining students on their ability to retain information, which is inevitably forgotten imminently after the exam is finished. The skills of creativity and innovation are barely associated with one’s ability to memorise the equation of momentum of a moving object (or whatever useless information I had to engrain into my brain during Physics GCSE), meaning students are being stressed and tested on things that literally do not matter to their desired career path.
The lack of autonomy advocated by schools is failing to prepare our students for adulthood. Every aspect of a student’s life is controlled by the school. In the real world, people need to effectively manage their own time to suit individual needs, which inevitably differ between all individuals. The generalisation of a year group as a whole fails to suit all students, which is why a class can contain a huge variety of academic progress and achievement. Being in year 13, my school allows us to have Wednesdays off school. However, for some students this privilege has been taken away, due to an ‘inadequacy’ of grades and progress. It is extremely oppressive and unjust to give certain students this advantage and not others, purely based on academic success, when it is the school system itself that disables certain students to progress as quickly as others. This meritocratic approach to scholastic achievement is extremely harmful to students’ self-esteem, as well as disabling a true representation of the adult world. By instilling the idea that success comes from following orders and not from critical thinking or imagination, our archaic education system is failing us.
To conclude, it is clear that the only way our education system can be saved is through intensive reform, ensuring creativity is measured and valued as much as academic achievement. The infrastructure of our schools is built on industrialisation and meritocratic order-taking that merely hinders the independency of our students.