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On the naughty step - Conduct that deserves a ticking off

This week: extreme uniform

Some say that if you want children to act like adults, you must treat them as such. So what happens when you treat adults like children?

The superintendent of Little Rock School District in Arkansas, US, has taken the brave decision to set out a dress code for teachers from 2014. But we're not just talking a blazer and tie. This code includes the instruction that "foundation garments shall be worn". Any volunteers to check that the male teachers have remembered to put on boxer shorts? And what female teacher does not realise that dispensing with her bra means dispensing with authority?

Dress codes are not necessarily a bad thing; they send a clear message about what is expected. The difficulty lies in ensuring a fair application of the rules - hence the temptation to make increasingly specific edicts such as "clothing advertising an affiliation with drugs, alcohol, violence or gang-related activities is prohibited" and "footwear must be worn at all times".

Do teachers really need to be given quite such specific instructions? Well, no. And for parents, perhaps the code is troubling rather than reassuring - after all, who wants teachers who need to be told that going commando is not an appropriate choice for the 21st-century classroom?

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