Thursday, December 22, 2005

Of Dress Codes and Kilts

I'm usually a big fan of dress codes. Someone needs to teach students what is and is not appropriate public attire, and unlike, say, character education, enforcing a dress code does not require teachers to teach less math or English in order to teach about appropriate clothing. Just send the kid to the office and on we go with sine curves, or diagramming sentences, or whatever.

Yeah, like they diagram sentences in English class anymore.

Anyway, published standards of dress, in accordance with community standards and equitably enforced, strike me as reasonable. However, this story is one of those that is just over the top. The boy wore a kilt to a dance and got sent home? Why? Honestly, I could see if he wore a skirt--that would most likely violate community standards and would probably be intended to be disrespectful towards the event. But a kilt? He even wore a shirt and tie with it!

The whole "demonstrating disrespect for all Scots" argument against the principal is weak. I'm so sick of this multi-culti crap. Hell, I'm part Scot and if the principal thinks a kilt makes the kid look like a clown, I'm not going to take personal umbrage. The question is not whether the principal thinks a kilt makes a boy look like a clown, it's whether or not he can and should reasonably deny boys the option of wearing a kilt.

At my school we have a club--Caledonian Club, perhaps? I forget the name--and the boys wear kilts on Fridays. It's not as common this year as last, but I still think it's great. Harmless. Fun. Respectful. And yes, I hope they're wearing something under it.

Update, 1/10/06 7:39 pm: situation resolved.


Anonymous said...

They still make us diagram sentences. They say, "It's important! Seriously! And no, we won't teach you why it's important, just like in math class."

Darren said...

I always say why something is important, Cameron--because it's going to be on the test :-)

Perhaps some day I'll regale you with all the trig I used in my senior math project prior to getting my math degree....

Suzi said...

I taught diagramming sentences, three years ago.

I hated it, though. It was always difficult for me to learn.

Darren said...

I certainly didn't expect that a "throw-away line" would generate all the comments on this post! Where are all the cries about student rights, self-expression, etc?!

I can't imagine a better way of learning the mechanics of our language than by "seeing" it arrayed in sentence diagramming. That doesn't mean we diagram for its own sake, or that we force kids to memorize (and take tests on) the rules for diagramming--that would defeat the purpose. But how much of learning is visual, and how easy is it to see what modifies what, and what is subjective and what is objective, than in a diagrammed sentence?

I learned as much about English grammar as I did about German grammar by taking German in high school. Foreign languages and diagramming sentences both have their roles in teaching appropriate grammar in English.

EdWonk said...

In light of all these types of stories that have been coming to light recently, it amazes me that there are principals out there who do not anticipate the ramifications of such a decision. The controversy caused was large, but could you imagine what the uproar had been if the clothing had of been representative of some other ethnicity?

Anonymous said...

Darren, I'll help you with the kilts.

As we both know, properly worn, there is nothing under it but "what God graced you with upon birth." But a company in Seattle (why are we both not surprised! :) ) makes them and offers a "Modesty Snap", a cover under the opening.... so you can be traditional and not have to be frightening to the rest of us :)

The site is


PS: Merry Christmas to all

PPS: This discussion of diagramming sentences is giving me flashbacks to St Joseph's Elementary, aka "The Sisters of the Holy Yardstick!"

Darren said...

Mike, you're a frog, not a good Scot. Why do you know about some Seattle kilt company?

And Edwonk, I don't need to answer your question. Every reader on this blog already knows the answer.

Anonymous said...

Someone does need to teach students how to dress. . .their parents. Failing that, their peers.

You've illuminated the reason why dress codes are wrong magnificently: you thought that banning the kilt was wrong, so therefore it shouldn't be banned. Well, I feel that any form of expression that doesn't detract from the learning environment is fine. That's a more liberal stance than yours, but it's no more or less justifiable. Except for that thing about the Supreme Court agreeing with me. If you're really a big fan of dress codes, why aren't you on the side of this principal, trying to promote what he thinks is proper attire?


Darren said...

Dress codes can have two parts in my view: 1) forbidding something that detracts from education, and 2) forbidding something that violates community standards.

He can wear shorts, so showing off his legs isn't an issue. The kilt is attire for a male, so it's not like he's wearing a dress. People might look askance at his wearing a kilt in public, but it probably wouldn't be considered scandalous.

I think the principal went too far here. His going too far doesn't negate the value of all dress codes.

Anonymous said...

Mike, you're a frog, not a good Scot. Why do you know about some Seattle kilt company?
1. Although I have a frog surname, I'm actually a mutt...the purist thing in me is 1/4 Russian (My grandfather on my dad's side)…then again you know my favorite adult beverage…. and where I’m going in a couple of months...and it’s not frog land!

2. I learned about the kilt company from an article in the Houston Chronicle a year or so ago. Some of my Army buddies and I were thinking of seeing will they make a few custom kilts...DCU...something for a hail and farewell night! :)I don't know how long before we can find ACU material...our CSM would have a seizure! :)

Anonymous said...

It's the Highlander Club. It was more active last year when Mike Osborn was the President. He has since graduated, and the club has lost a fair amount of enthusiasm.

Anonymous said...

A couple things first, they DO make us diagram sentences and its the Highlander Club. Anyways, how ridiculous! Is there something wrong with a kilt? First off, kilts, if they are REAL kilts and not plaid-print skirts, are long and should cover everything that clothing is supposed to cover. I don't understand that part since there is nothing obscene about a kilt. Secondly, what if a male DID want to wear a skirt? As long as he is covered, I don't really care. True, it is a little weird, but who really cares. If something like a skirt on a male bothers people, they probably have a disgusting mind to begin with or are afraid of something out of the ordinary. Girls can wear pants and skirts, why can't a guy wear pants and kilts (which are technically male clothing). I don't know, I think this is just someone (that principal) who is uncomfortable with something different. Which, holy cow, taking away uniqueness would make the world SO boring. I just think this whole thing is dumb. Seriously, there are bigger problems in this world then a boy wearing a kilt.

Darren said...

Lenzie, I agree with your last sentence.

Want boys to wear skirts? They can now in Bergen, NJ!

Anonymous said...

you must have a serious problem with kids and teens . because almost every post of yours is against them . it is quite annoying actually .

seriously . for being a math teacher you have serious issues.
you were a kid once too you know?!

Darren said...

Caroline--do you have a reading comprehension problem? Or perhaps a non sequitur problem? I was supporting the *student* in this post--and in many others. "Almost every" post? Spare me your drama.

If you read enough, you should find that I disparage those whom I think are *wrong*, regardless of whether they're kids or adults, religious or non-religious, liberals or conservatives, etc.