I like dress codes and uniforms aren’t so bad either. The thing with dress codes is that they teach our children about real life. I feel confident that you could never go to work at a bank wearing a crop top. But my child is a free spirit and will never work at a bank, one may say. This is true, that’s why I like dress codes. They allow for creativity and self-expressionism while still being mindful of certain mores that our society has deemed acceptable. And no, I’m not being sexist. I don’t want to see anyone’s butt cheeks – male or female.
I had never given much thought to dress codes and uniforms being sexist until reading the media coverage this past year, and Nathalie’s post yesterday points to a great example of how skirts may be a bit ridiculous. But know this, I believe my boys should adhere to codes of conduct as well, including dress. Save their slouchy pants, muscle shirts and hats for the weekend!
However, this is where I do get righteous. If students are expected to comply with a dress code so should teachers. Too often I have observed the dress of some teachers unsure if they’d just come from cleaning out the garage or perhaps a yoga class.
I went to teachers college about a thousand years ago and much of what I learned may be considered out-dated but something does standout after all of this time. A professor, also a principal at an inner-city school, gave a lecture on professionalism. She arrived wearing a plum colour suit, her hair and make-up just so. She stood tall and spoke considerately and exuded a confidence that made me take notice. She referenced her clothing, and explained that her choice of outfit was no accident. When children enter a school, they are expected to behave in a manner befitting a student. When a teacher enters a school, they are expected to show respect for the position and their students. She explained in earnest that presenting your best self to the students – taking time with appearance as well as lesson plans – speaks volumes. It’s about setting a tone that only your best will be accepted here.
I didn’t give her lecture much thought at the time but as the years have passed and my children have become students, I have seen this to be true.
It’s not superficial. It’s not about having the “best” clothes or wearing make-up. It’s not about knotting a tie and wearing a blazer. It’s about showing that you care. That you care enough to present your best self to the students who look up to you, and the parents who entrust you with their children.