The subject of teacher dress codes עברית reminds me of two juxtaposing articles that appeared in recent years in Haaretz: One during the 2006 teachers’ strike, profiling a male junior high teacher who owned but one work outfit, but took care to come to work every day dressed in a clean dress shirt and pressed pants. He told the reporter he wants to set an example for his students. He gets it, I thought. I nearly cried with gratitude. God bless you, wherever you are, haMorèh*.
The other article told about some unique 6th grade curriculum being implemented in a classroom somewhere in the Center, perhaps it was Holon. The accompanying photo showed the teacher surrounded by her students, wearing a dress that revealed a cleavage the size of the Suez Canal. It reminded me of a teacher in my kids’ school: She’s in her mid-fifties and as my friend observed, she seems to reveal more skin every year. Has anyone reminded this woman that she’s teaching teenagers, not a teenager herself?
Ms. Livneh, I beg to disagree with you: What we wear does affect those around us, especially those in appearance-oriented occupations such as teaching. How are adolescent boys supposed to ignore exposed breasts and heady perfume? How are the girls supposed to respect someone who looks like their peer? I’m not suggesting that teachers should have to dress like nuns, but yes, they need to look businesslike; they are doing an indoor job that doesn’t involve cleaning or heavy lifting, they are meeting the public, and they should dress commensurately.
Regardless of the amount of skin showing, I also admit that I’ve never gotten used to the Israeli concept that it’s perfectly acceptable for female teachers to dress flamboyantly. What’s up with the two-toned nails in day-glo colors, the magenta hair, earrings the size of hubcaps, and the hooker shoes? Can you honestly say that these are conducive to teaching? At the very least, that they aren’t distracting?
Ms. Livneh, your reminiscences in the second-to-last paragraph have no worth other than as anecdotes. You may attribute your students’ success in English to the teacher’s wardrobe, and the literature teacher may have been unpopular, but it wasn’t about his clothing. And while it is true that reducing class size, raising salaries, and bolstering teachers’ status are certainly called for, I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss the idea of dress codes.
Not only would teachers dressing appropriately for their jobs likely go a long way toward their gaining the respect of both students and parents ― but guess what? It doesn’t cost the taxpayer one agorah!