I had meant to finally do my post on dress codes on Friday; it seemed to dovetail nicely with the uniform discussion we were having the day before. But seeing as how the general holiday-ness of Friday sent me in other directions, it made sense to post it now, on a day when many people get a little more dressed up than usual.
Even in my church, which is not in any way a coat-and-tie church (save for some attendees of the earliest service, which caters to the older members), a lot more ties than usual made appearances this morning. Since I was playing, I didn't go quite that far, but I did have a nice solid-color button-down shirt (tucked in, even!) and a slightly fancier pair of shoes than I normally wear.
As I said in Thursday's post, I'm not a really big fan of strict dress codes. Sure, part of it has to do with the whole striving-for-individuality attitude that a musician pretty much has to adopt, lest his or her music become boring and bland (as if created by the Machine, perhaps). But another part of it is just because I don't think it's as effective as the People in Charge evidently believe.
Now, please understand something : I'm not against all dress codes; no anarchist lives in this house. We don't need girls coming to school in tank tops, see-thru shirts or really short shorts, or just generally looking like cocktail waitresses (and didja ever notice that it's always the girls who get everyone in trouble in this area?). There's no reason to have obscene T-shirts either, or ones that, say, glorify Satanism or drug use (though I recall being pretty miffed in seventh grade when they changed the rules midyear and I could no longer wear my Budweiser shirt to school). It's the little, petty things that get me. Shorts? So what (after all, I do live in Texas, where it gets pretty dang warm by the end of school, and is even worse at the beginning of the year, and it's not like the air conditioning is great in every room of the school). Facial hair? No big deal to me; sure, there are arguments that not letting students have it can help everyone distinguish the teachers from the students, but there are ways around that (ID badges--something with which, incidentally, I have no problem). And don't even get me started on the nearby district that prohibits teachers from having facial hair. Flip-flops? Again...Texas, hot. And yeah, I know that whole thing about "they're made of rubber, and you might slip in water and fall and sue the school," but that could happen anywhere, and you don't see other public places enacting such a prohibition.
Actually, the flip-flops subject strikes a chord with me--not because I really like to wear them, which I do, but because they were outlawed in my Houston-area school district when I was growing up. One of the school board members was quoted by name in the school paper explaining why: Because guys' hairy toes might sexually excite the girls in the classroom.
While you're picking yourself up off the floor after reading that one, let me just say....huh? What kind of a twisted mind thought that up? (And, may I add, despite all the time I've worn flip-flops, I can attest that having hirsute lower extremities has never yielded me even a single date. Heh.)
Most of these "extreme" elements of dress codes don't have thing one to do with education; they're all about control. Though there are certainly some notable exceptions to this rule, it seems that something happens to educators when they becomes an administrator: when all is said and done, they become a lot less teacher and a lot more bureaucrat. Bureaucrats, by their very nature, need to continually justify their existence to the outside world, which finds much of what they do quite pointless (hmm, wonder why?), so they continually make more and more rules just to appear as though they're Doing Something. They're not really evil people for doing this; they've just gotten caught up in the whirlwind of junk. (The same thing happens to many new legislators; they may go in with the best of intentions, but evidently, it's hard to survive Washington with one's integrity intact.)
I have an example of the possible ineffectiveness of dress codes; I'll say up front that it's not scientific in any way, but it still warrants a bit of pondering: A school district near me (no reason to name names, but it rhymes with a popular drain cleaner) has some of the loosest dress code requirements in the area (i.e. shorts and facial hair are OK), as well as some of the highest test scores. I'm certainly not saying there's a direct causal relationship (and by the way, how many others of you look at the next-to-last word in that phrase and read it as "casual" the first time?), but I believe there is a connection. My explanation goes like this: There are a whole bunch of kids out there who don't mind school as long as they're not subject to pointless regulations. These aren't kids in the top ten, or the bottom ten, but rather in the big, big middle. Rather than trying to emulate the military, providing a relaxed learning environment actually helps these folks learn better. Start up the drill-sergeant thing, and you'll lose some of them.
I realize that some may think I'm all wet here, so as always, I invite comments. (I'd especially like to hear from Jim on this one, since he's an educator, and he attended the Mystery District in question as a student.) It's probably also becoming apparent why I'm the type of teacher that I am and not a traditional classroom teacher...
Gassed (the finale): My cheap gas quest ended as expected today; I held my nose and paid two bucks even at a Tom Thumb in Plano (it would've been three cents more without the card). It could have been much worse, seeeing as how I saw regular unleaded for $2.19 yesterday, also in Plano on the way to the wedding. On average, QT's and RaceTrac's were around $2.04, with many of the "big boys" hovering around $2.09. I'm wondering how long it will be before it dips back below two bucks again.
Yes, if I had a chocolate bunny, I'd eat the ears first too: Last, but certainly not least, Happy Easter to all!