Distracting Dress Codes
Have you heard the one about school dress codes? The dress code at our school is simple: if you're not taken for one of the teachers, you're in trouble.
Fear isn't Funny
Fear is distracting, and nothing distracts a teen more than worry that she’ll be ridiculed by her friends or mistaken for an outsider. As testament, consider the recent protest, “Slutty Wednesday,” held outside Stuyvesant High School, a highly regarded public school on the lower east side of Manhattan in New York City. Think of all the time and energy that went into coordinating this rally of several hundred students. What were they unable to do because they were distracted by a dress code?
Last fall, Stuyvesant enacted a dress code that restricted students to a clothing standard deemed appropriate to school administrators. For students, the major points of contention seem to be fashion, comfort, and consistency. Could Stuyvesant administrators be floundering in a generation gap? Seems like deja’ vu; the ‘60s come alive all over again.
Control is an Illusion
Dress codes are, at best, well-intentioned maneuvers for control. Control isn’t leadership it’s coercion, and if we’ve learned nothing else from our cultural history, let’s at least acknowledge that control is an illusion. Adults are tasked with leadership, and to truly lead our kids we first have to deal with our own adultism. Perhaps the better alternative for Stuyvesant would be a democratic process that invites all stakeholders, parents, students, teachers, and administrators, into the decision-making process. Sure, it’s time consuming, but then again so is teaching critical thinking, empathy, and ethical reasoning. Taking time to engage the community pays big dividends in the end because it not only produces a set of policies for which little enforcement is needed, it prevents distractions allowing students to focus on learning math, science, and all the rest.
Keeping Our Promises
Adults who influence kids made promises to them; promises to teach them the important lessons so that they could thrive one day on their own. These promises are about the big picture not about hem lengths. It seems the Stuyvesant community has been distracted taking their eyes off the ultimate prize.