A proposal to tighten current school dress codes in Cyprus raises the question as to whether this will change student performance and behaviour or will it just be a makeover with no real results.
People in Cyprus, and beyond, are talking about a proposal of the Ministry of Education regarding school behavior and dress codes. Although not in place as of yet, the proposal would dramatically change current student life. In addition to the dress code there will be a ban on smartphones, tablets and similar devices.
Beards and highlights
Cyprus already has a dress code for students which includes whites shirts, grey pants and skirts and blue ties for boys. However, according to the island’s second largest newspaper, Politis (link in Greek), during meetings between the Ministry of Education and educators, it was decided that, “students’ appearance plays a crucial role in their student identity and must be based on good taste.” Apparently what is not in ‘good taste’ for boys are long hair, dyed hair, peculiar haircuts, pony tails, beards, moustaches, earrings, chains and more. While female students will be prohibited from having “exaggerated” hairstyles, dyed highlights and hair, makeup, fake eyelashes, short skirts and shorts. Earrings and bracelets will be permitted for female students as long as they are not too excessive.
Reactions have been mostly negative from students, with one Cyupriot student wondering on social media whether school officials will, “tug on our eyelashes every morning to see if they are glued on.” Remarks by parents appear to slant in favor of the measures.
Proponents of strict dress codes argue that students will pay more attention in class and on their studies if they aren’t preoccupied with their appearance. While for others, dress codes seem oppressive and go against freedom of expression.
There have been many studies on the effect of dress codes at schools and, surprise, the findings have been varied. A study published in the International Journal of Educational Management on discipline and academic performance found that “more authoritative teaching styles lead to better academic performance and that students in schools with uniforms and tighter dress codes produce more disciplined students.”
On the other hand, a study published in the Journal of Educational Research concluded that “student uniforms have no direct effect on substance use, behavioral problems, or attendance” and that “Contrary to current discourse, the authors found a negative effect of uniforms on student academic achievement.”
Looking back to see into the future
Many people complain that the new generation has gotten out of control in the way they dress, but some reflection might be necessary, If we think about the difference between parents and students in early 70x and compare that to students in the 80s versus students now, the gap might appear to be much smaller. In the end, did wearing that heavy metal t-shirt and feather earring do anything more than just give your children an embarrassing photo of yourself to laugh at?
This article was written by writer, developer and teacher Panos Lianos and has been re-published with permission on The Pappas Post.
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