I had an unexpected email today from a woman I went to high school with. Which prompted me to drop in to the school website (the school has the same name — Waterdown District High School — but it’s in a new building since we were there). On the website I found the Student Handbook and inside this book is a Code of Conduct, something I don’t recall existing back in the early 1980s.
Among other things, the Code of Conduct outlines unacceptable clothing (it’s in the section “Respect for Self”):
It is the responsibility of students to dress in a neat, clean, safe, and sensible manner suitable to the school environment. Outdoor clothing is not to be worn in class. Clothing imprinted with symbols of alcohol, racism, drugs, sex, religious discrimination, or obscenities is unacceptable. Clothing, hairstyles, make-up, jewellery or costumes that are representative or symbolic of anti-social cliques or gangs will not be tolerated on the school grounds. School simulates the world of work therefore our dress code reflects an acceptable manner of dress.
- NO boxers or other undergarments showing
- NO bra straps showing or halter tops/tube tops/muscle shirts
- NO bare midriffs showing
- NO bare backs showing
- NO cleavage showing
Setting aside any objections I might have to the notion of enforcing a dress code at all, the item here that I’ve got the biggest philosophical problems with is “School simulates the world of work therefore our dress code reflects an acceptable manner of dress.”
Whatever happened to the halcyon days of youth? Thankfully the “simulation of the world of work” rhetoric was absent from my high school days, and there was no suggestion that we were anything other than kids being prepared for life in its many colours; sadly, it would appear that the “training for your future in the workforce” approach to education is winning out.
On the upside, I see that it’s now mandatory, under something called the “Community Involvement Program,” for students to complete 40 hours of “unpaid community involvement activities” in order to graduate from high school. That seems like a Good Thing to me (although I suppose “of your own volition” volunteer work would be preferable to “mandatory” volunteer work, which is something of an oxymoron). Their definition of what qualifies seems broad enough to include almost anything, and I imagine that some students use this to engage in some creative extensions of their “simuluation of the world of work.”