What shall I wear to school today?

Sujata C

I was in class nine when I had to make a choice between a school with uniform and one without.

Dad had got transferred from Jhansi to Hyderabad when I was half way through class nine. Dad took me around the ICSE schools in Hyderabad and two schools were willing to take me in, mid-year. The schools were Vidyaranya and St Georges’ Grammar School. My father asked me choose one. I thought for a while and told him I would prefer St Georges’. He asked me why and I said, the other school did not have a uniform and with so much to study, I wouldn’t have time to think of what to wear to school every day. When dad said Vidyaranya is a very reputed school, I said never mind. It is so much easier to just wear the uniform and get on with other important things. My choice turned out right because I was able to maintain my grades in the board exam despite the stress of relocating to a new place, new classmates, new teachers, and so on. Ever since then I have been an advocate for school uniforms. That incident sort of moulded my personality and I grew up not bothering too much with clothes.

I know quite a few people who really don’t care too much for clothes – a couple of them are scientists doing path breaking research at CCMB. One of them is known to sometimes come to the lab wearing the shirt inside out! The other scientist’s wife used to complain that her husband will wear a trouser till the cloth wears out completely and the threads are holding the fabric together! And I am not talking about the Rs. 6000 and odd Levis jeans that come with the frayed look which youngsters wear to display an effortless cool look!

Would Albert Einstein have ever got close to his theory of relativity if he kept worrying about his hair or his clothes? Can you imagine Einstein with a clean combed look! I believe at times he even wore adult diapers on his pants a la Superman and had a wardrobe full of exactly the same shirts, suits and shoes, until his second wife came along.

What about Archimedes? He might have lost the Eureka moment if he had stopped to grab a towel! The point I am trying to make – clothes can distract attention.

But coming to uniforms, it wouldn’t be such a bad idea if teachers wore uniforms too or followed some kind of a colour/dress code. This statement might appear extreme to some. (I can feel the brickbats coming at me). But it’s worth a try, you know. Since one is less clothes conscious, better performance is largely assured with uniforms – be they engineers, lawyers, doctors, students or teachers. It fills you with a sense of purpose and keeps you focused on the task at hand.

It’s possible that if teachers wore uniforms we may have more Einsteins, Mozarts, and Mendels in the making. To see the difference, one could check the conversations in staff rooms and classrooms where the teaching might reach another level altogether. Besides, not only is a uniform sensible and budget friendly, it would take a load off the teacher’s mind and save her precious minutes in the mad morning rush.

A uniform gives the person an air of authority and can inspire confidence in a student. The student’s attention will not be drawn to the variety of the teacher’s wardrobe.

The doctor’s white coat conveys a sense of relief to the patient and he regains his strength partially. Lawyers wear black and white because the colours are in line with the spirit of their profession.

I know the debate on school uniforms polarizes people but the ‘uniformers’ are ahead by a slender margin. If a class is uniformly dressed, it doesn’t mean they think alike and work alike. Their personality development is work in progress, and they will show up with their quirks all in good time, where’s the hurry? Wouldn’t it be a pity that a student can’t concentrate in class because he didn’t find the right thing to wear?

The author is a freelance writer based in Hyderabad. She can be reached at sujata117@gmail.com.

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