Geesh! The sights one sees in public school hallways these days! Some of it is unbelievable and my students, after noting my complaints, are now developing discerning and judgmental eyes of their own. They now speak out against ignorant clothing fads, and some days we are all appalled regarding “I Spy” reports of absurd clothing — or lack of coverage by said clothing.
Last week a girl was squatted down, digging for something at the bottom of her backpack and the exposure was shocking. Her levis had dropped low in back, showing, not some modest underwear with “Monday” embroidered on them, but a g-string, too much of which was visible. Her skimpy blouse (I wonder if they refer to those little scraps of fabric as a "blouse"?), designed to let a few inches of flesh show, anyway, was pulled high as her arms stretched deep into the backpack. There, in all its glory, was a large, multicolored butterfly tattooed across her spine at waist level! I shuddered, envisioning the punishment I would have received in my home had I (a) done that to my body, (b) purchased such distasteful clothing, and (c) worn them in public — and to school, no less. Modern parents must lack the courage and the common sense to say “Absolutely NOT!” My parents had no trouble saying it, and I’m the better for it.
The boys are as bad with Levis so oversized that they are in constant danger of slipping to the floor. Boys never carry books for girls these days. They can’t, for already their hands are full — one carrying a pop; the other hitching up the pants as colored boxers peer from beneath the shirt. One of my new students was expelled last week because his pants dropped low enough to completely display his boxers. After he returned from the ousting, students were complaining that he was wearing the same baggy pants, minus boxers and with zipper undone. What could possibly cause a child to grow up so lacking in modesty and decency?
I suspect that if more of our teen boys were told the original meaning behind the baggy pants, the fad would end soon enough. At a teacher in-service on gangs, a specialist who works with such groups informed us that the fad came straight out of the prisons. The speaker explained that in prison those baggy pants are the trademark of a prison prostitute and thus advertise availability. I find it so sad that our boys are unknowingly lured into dressing in such ways, and that those boys lack parents with the wisdom, and the stamina, to say, “Absolutely NOT!”
My "disadvantaged" teenaged son is not even allowed to wear a shirt tucked in without wearing a belt though the belt loops designed for such accessories. He has t-shirts with messages written on them, but they have to pass muster with me. My favorites are the ones that say, “John Deere B” or “We the People.” That is about as risqué as I allow him to get. However, he is doing well, even thriving, without following the fads. He has his own repair business plus works other two jobs. He takes 8 classes in homeschooling, including Chemistry, Calculus, Austrian economics, music appreciation — even Wheelock Latin as his fourth year in that subject. He clearly understands that the "line in the sand" has been drawn when I announce, “Absolutely NOT!”
Last Friday I was dressed nicely, as usual, wearing a pantsuit and some favorite jewelry. A student spoke up to say that he just could not get over how I always chose clothes that ‘matched,’ and how very odd that was. “Look at you!” he said. “Your necklace has stones that match your blue suit, and your brooch is a stone that matches your brown blouse! You always match!” He quickly noted that he didn’t mean to criticize; only to comment. He explained that it was so unusual in a world that mostly “throws on some pants, then grabs a shirt; any shirt; to go with them.”
I laughed because the boy’s remark brought to mind a humorous experience that occurred during parent conferences a few years ago. I was alone in my room and clearly heard a boy in the hall telling his mother, “You need to meet Mrs. Taylor. She even looks like a teacher!”
I’ve been wondering…if all teachers looked like teachers; and if all parents sent their children to school looking like scholars…might we observe some overall improvements in the attitudes with which both faculty and the student body approach academics, and scholarship, in general… It might make for an interesting study.
Linda Schrock Taylor [send her mail] lives in Michigan. She is a free-lance writer and the owner of “The Learning Clinic,” where real reading, and real math, are taught effectively and efficiently.