I work on the heels of Voice and her piece on sexual harassment in the work place. Really, this piece isn't so much about dress code as the death of common sense. As teachers, we work with dress code on both sides of the fence, but anyone that works outside their house does the same from the employee end. The furor over dress code is a prime example of social science run amok. A basic run down of the proponent argument:
- Schools with uniforms have fewer discipline problems and perform better than schools with free dress. Furthermore, these items improve with the increase in regulation. Standardized dress is better than fewer or no regulations.
- Work productivity improves when people dress professionally.
- Attitudes towards those in uniform (or suits) improves
- When students dress in uniforms it teaches them how to behave in the work place.
I could go on and on. Naturally, one might question the validity of such claims, but that is not the purpose per se. When one considers rules and their complexities one inevidably comes to the conclusion that rules are written with the black sheep in mind. The more specific the rule, the worse the black sheep. As a coach, I know I had to develop rules over time when each case came up. Somebody would do something stupid and therefore a new rule will pop up.
My wife and I were watching The Steve Wilkos Show when a 37 year old mother admitted to walking around in her bra and panties with her 23 year old would be son in law in the house. He decided to drop his pants and show off his manhood. One does not necessarily create the other, but you have to wonder of the collective wisdom of such behavior on her part. Thus, we get to the first rule of common sense: bad or risky behavior on one's part does not remove blame from another when the first one is victimized. On the one hand, many want to assign blame in such a case when such risky behavior is followed by a criminal act on another's part. No one "asks" for it unless they ask for it. On the other hand, many also want to categorize those that mention the risky behavior (as a simple warning to others or that person) as pigs, chauvanists, or monsters.
In this increasingly litigious society, I could not enforce dress code on high school girls. After all, why am I looking at such things? The move to the uniform is no more than a move towards laziness. Student dress in particular is a teaching moment. It stresses the difference between clubware, professional ware, and that which one might wear to paint their bedroom. Uniforms remove the controversy but also remove the thinking process and learning process. Cleavage and midrift might prepare you for the world Rick's or to attend Velvet Jones' academy for women, but it doesn't get you into corporate America. Showing off most of your boxers might give you street cred, but it doesn't impress executives in three piece suits. These are important lessons.
As a someone midway through a career, I shudder to speak of others as if I'm this grizzled old fart shaking his finger from his lawn chair, but today's new teachers sometimes don't understand these distinctions. A few of our teachers have had enhancements and other work done. Hey, how you spend your money is your business, but if you wear clothes that augment that part of the body you run the risk of giving the children a bad message. To put it less delicately, I am glad you are proud of your new rack and most of the male species approves as well, but the children need to see you as a young, intelligent, and capable instructor instead of fantasizing about seeing you in a wet t-shirt contest.
All that being said, these are the lessons that were not learned when we began moving to the uniform movement several years ago. Most rules breakers aren't blessed with self-awareness. When you use collective discipline for the actions of an individual, the individual in question usually doesn't get the message. Furthermore, the rest are pissed when you force us to wear a tie because you didn't realize that jorts weren't the most professional choice.
While dealing with poor choices on an individual basis might seem cumbersome and inefficient, the rest of us will thank you in the end. That person will learn what they need the learn and the rest of us can go about our day. Furthermore, if you wear pants that look like they were painted on and a shirt that looks like it is about to rip, don't complain too much when people look. Of course, that doesn't give us the right to say anything or do anything. It's common sense and it is high time we all found it.