When I first started reading about this it stirred up some emotion in me. The feelings of a child being forced to wear the same clothes everyday. The child whose parents couldn't afford the uniform, the mum who forgot to wash the right uniform, the child not wearing the right shirt/pants/socks/shoes/hairband. Feelings of inequity - the cost of uniforms, the strict regulations. It feels like we all want to protect our children from unfair treatment because of the clothes they wear but there clearly isn't a winner.
Without a doubt the best way to protect our children is to teach them how to respect others. At a fully functional, peaceful Montessori school (actually any school, Montessori or otherwise) children should be educated so there is no discrimination or unfair treatment based on clothes or economic factors. Can this be a reality? Yes!
So are uniforms Montessori? Or not?
There are some Montessori schools that have compulsory uniforms and there are others who don't.
Do we teach children independence by allowing them to choose their own clothes or do we teach them they are at 'work' by wearing a uniform?
Do we even out inequities by enforcing a strict adherence to school uniform policies or do we make the inequities even more evident?
Do we teach children to conform or to stand out from the crowd? How do we teach autonomy?
Should we be able to identify our children as part of a group by the clothes they wear? That's a little elitist isn't it?
Many parents say uniforms make clothes shopping and dressing easy, but is it the easy way out?
What is the Montessori way?
I personally like the middle ground. The optional uniform. The gender neutral polo shirt with the matching hat. The clothes children can wear when they feel like they need to be a part of the team, but there are no consequences if you don't! When there is a class of about one fifth of the children wear the uniform on any given day - no child stands out.
Perhaps I'm a non conformist but I feel like it would be difficult to send my children to a school with a strict uniform policy. Eek, I even think it's a little anti-Montessori.