I’ve grown to love school uniforms. It’s so contrary to the culture I was raised in so it has taken me awhile. I grew up in Oregon, a rather apathetic and wear-your-pajama-pants-anywhere type of place. Everything is casual, and reverence and respect are scarce and rarely appreciated. For example, I called all of my friends’ parents, most of my coaches, several of my teachers and one principle by their first names, at their request. The only clothing regulation I was ever given at school was that I could not wear any words or pictures of profanity. Outside of my parents and youth group, no one ever talked to me about my clothes. And so I melded with my culture, wearing whatever was most comfortable and casual and Birkenstocks were the norm.
Out of ignorance I spent years talking bad about schools that made kids wear uniforms. I believed it stifled creativity and individuality. While this may be true in the realm of personal fashion, I’ve grown to see that over-valuing individuality and personal uniqueness, especially in my outward appearances, is a side effect of focusing more on myself and my world than on Christ and His Kingdom. It is often a symptom of self-worship as opposed to Christ-worship. In reality, creativity and originality can be used to glorify me by drawing attention to me, or they can be used to glorify Christ by drawing attention to Christ. And this is where PCA’s intentionality about clothing and uniforms won me over.
Uniforms do not take away personal freedoms of expression, they provide a blank canvas where the students’ talents and creations and expressions can point to someone greater and holier than any individual person. Allowing students to wear uniforms is a very simple way of removing the distraction of what they are wearing in comparison to what other kids are wearing, and instead allows more attention to fall where it ought to be – on studies and Christ and our role in His Kingdom. Not our clothes and our uniqueness and how cool we are in our kingdom. HIS Kingdom, where we reign as co-heirs in unity with others, glorifying HIS uniqueness, or better said, His Holiness.
On a practical level, as a parent I have found uniforms to be very helpful in the mornings! There are very few decisions that need to be made about clothing. My daughter gets to decide which hair accessory she wants to wear, my son gets to decide if he wants brown socks or white, and they both get to choose whether to wear a white or blue shirt. We don’t have to argue about how striped shirts don’t match with plaid shorts or how maroon and red just don’t look right together. They know what they’re expected to wear and they seem to really like their uniforms.
One of my favorite parts about the uniforms is something I never experienced at school. It’s the simple chin lift of confidence that I see happen on a regular basis. Something is different when they put on that uniform. Like a man who puts on his suit and tie to go to a big meeting, or a woman who puts on her heels and make-up to speak at an important conference, clothes somehow transform a person into the man or woman or student they need to be for the task at hand. And when we dress up, somehow it makes us feel like we can conquer anything. I’ve seen that look in my children when they’re in their uniforms. The uniform gives them confidence and it puts them in the mindset of school. At PCA, the mindset of school is academics, but even more so the mindset is glorifying Christ and walking in unity (not individuals) as citizens of His Kingdom.
“But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.” Psalm 3:3 (ESV)
If you would like more information about PCA’s uniform policy, check out the complete rationale behind the uniform policy, including the specifics of the uniforms.