Thursday, June 18, 2015


I was shocked by what I saw at the Middle School Promotion ceremony. As I watched the students process to their places, the wide spectrum of growth and development was clearly apparent. Some looked ready to go out and get a job, others were still waiting for that big growth spurt to arrive. The range was huge. I needn't have been shocked, because it was something I knew cognitively, in the back of my mind someplace, but seeing it in such a vivid way was stunning.

From a presentation entitled The Middle School Student, Physical Development:

Heights of students can range from students under five feet to someone over six feet. Body changes can result in students being awkward and clumsy. The rapid changes in body sizes and shapes may cause embarrassment to students.

Middle school is absolutely the most obvious time where the phrase "one size fits all" is a laughable construct.

Therefore, a dress code cannot be based on a one-size fits all mentality. It must be child-centered, designed with the needs of the students in mind, not the adults. From our experiences this year, far too many examples of "dress-coding" stem from the excuse that clothing choices made an adult uncomfortable. And these are almost exclusively, if not entirely, in response to female students.

What a great lesson to teach young women: you make adults uncomfortable.

Clothing should be functional--work well for the activities students will be performing. Clothing should be comfortable--feel good to a teen who may feel self-conscious and awkward. Clothing should be appropriate for the weather. Clothing should allow for healthy self-expression. (People who are fond of slippery slopes may not like that last one, but I think we do students a great disservice by ignoring this.)

In conclusion, I offer this quote from my wise friend Ann, whose daughter has been in school with mine since First Grade. After both a morning and afternoon spent with the eighth graders, she wrote:

So today we have had the 8th grade promotion ceremony and the dance. There were girls with spaghetti straps, no straps at all, short, shorter skirts, music, dancing. And guess what? They all managed to keep a civil head and enjoyed themselves, too. No incidents of distraction, rudeness, and anyone trying to doing anything unmentionable happened!

Thank goodness the kids are all right.



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