We all remember our school teachers. The majority of my teachers left a bad taste in my mouth, with a few exceptions. There were those that I really enjoyed because they loved teaching, but a majority of them obviously looked at teaching as a burden and blamed the kids they taught for their crappy job. My generation looks back at most school teachers as mean, vindictive and always yelling at us for one reason or other but they were always dressed well.
The other day I went to my nephew’s elementary school for a parent/teacher conference. He is my baby sister’s boy and since he spends a lot of time with me (4 or 5 days a week), I was asked by the school to attend. The meeting was about my nephew’s progress and the fact that next year he will be going to middle school. They wanted to make sure that we were up to date on his grades, actions in class and other things.
What struck me was his teacher. She was young but I am 40 so anyone under 25 is young to me. So, her age didn’t really shock me, but her appearance did. My generation remembers teachers as always wearing business casual dress, the females maybe had ear rings which were very tasteful and otherwise very professional looking adults. As I walked into the classroom and sat down in one of those tiny chairs the teacher walks in and I know my jaw must have hit the floor. She had multi-colored hair which included purple, blue, hot pink and some other color I couldn’t identify. She was also sporting not just ear rings but a nose piercing and, when she welcomed me to the school, a tongue ring was seen!
I couldn’t believe my eyes! I mean, I’m all for originality and personal expression but there is such a thing as over the top, especially when you are influencing young minds. The others that were present, like the counselor and other teachers seemed oblivious to the woman’s attire, which was just as bright and multi-colored as her hair. Shouldn’t there be some sort of dress code in a school environment that teaches young kids? What are the kids thinking about this? Maybe none of them think much of it today, maybe it is a non-issue for them, but deep down that look will be remembered. I know I was influenced on how to dress by my Jr. High music teacher, who always dressed business casual and explained that if you look smart you will feel smart, and that is true. How can you dress so far outside of society’s norm and expect to feel good about it?
Maybe I’m just old, with old ideas, but I really think that teacher should take a look at herself and realize that she is not the only one she is effecting.
UPDATE (3/17/10): First, thanks for your comments and thoughts. It would seem that I left out a key point in my post that might shed a little more light on my feelings toward this issue. It is not that I am against people that wear colorful clothes, dye their hair or pierce their bodies. I am all for self expression. That being said, I believe the setting you are in demands a certain awareness and the way you dress is something that should be taken into account. Would you go to an interview with hot pink hair and a nose ring? I doubt it. You must look at each situation and make a decision on the attire that would be appropriate for it. In my mind at least, the school environment is not a place to be flamboyant and “loud” with your dress. It is a place to learn and anything that might take away from that should be left at home. Is this conforming to society’s rules? Sure it is, but that is part of being in a society. Rebellion or non-conformity if you will is fine, rebellion created this country, but we must think about the effects that rebellion has and decide if the effect is worth the gain.
Also, my nephew, in the past, has mentioned the way his teacher dresses and the multiple piercings but I put this off as an exaggeration. Now that I have seen her in person, I think of other things he has mentioned. With his comments it seems to me that this teacher may be trying to be the childrens’ friend more than their teacher. While a good relationship is essential in an education, the teacher also has to take the responsibility of the adult role. I don’t expect a suit, I would easily accept jeans with a button down or otherwise nice shirt. This teacher’s dress and actions attract the attention of the kids, or at least my nephew’s, away from the class work that must be completed.
Again, thank you for your comments, I take all of your opinions seriously and sincerely.