• Many professions around the globe are recognized by the dressing or appearance of their members. Even primary school children are able to identify lawyers, doctors, nurses, clergy men/women, university dons and even ladies of easy virtue by their appearance.

    Obviously, there is nothing worth talking about in the dressing and appearance ?of teachers as compared to some of the above mentioned professionals. Yet, the teaching profession is one of the oldest and respected in the world. Forget that teachers are not accorded a pride of place in the Nigerian society. Indeed, they were so disregarded at a point that people said teachers’ reward was in heaven. Thanks that that impression is now changing.

    Teaching, no doubt, is one of the professions that does not have a recognisable dress code for its members. Anything goes for as long as one looks good or presentable. But how presentable should a teacher be as to inspire the students?

    In times past, it was very common to hear students refer to their teachers as role models. The subjects taught by the teachers might not necessarily be the students’s favourite, yet several things endeared teachers to their students, one of which was dressing. Students knew their teachers by either the style of the dresses, the fitting, how well ironed, well groomed hair or their mannerism.

    Times have changed and it is no longer the case today as many students will not want to be identified with teaching and teachers, except for the fact that they must of necessity sit under the tululege of teachers to learn.

    The truth, however, is that nothing much about many teachers inspire students to want to be like them. The dressing of many is nothing to write home about, not to mention their public conduct. In the past, teachers were known for their flawless grammar, English that is. But not any more as many teachers these days, commit such grammatical blunders that you are tempted to challenge them in the presence of their students. The point is that many things about teachers should be so admired by their students that they (students) would want to emulate or be like their teachers. This is for obvious reasons.

    Particularly offensive is the dressing of many teachers that they are made jest of by their students. Some teachers, even in urban centres, are known to come to school in bathroom slippers which have seen better days, faded dresses some of which are sometimes torn at the collar or armpit region, over-sized clothes, unkempt hair and so on. Some, however, who do not fall within this category, appear irresponsibly with tattoes and piercings, dreadlocks, especially for the men as well as heavy make-ups etc. What will students take away from such teachers?

    Some people have argued that the impression of the profession created by government and the society is not helping teachers as many of them feel let belittled. They make examples with JAMB? form which has three choices for candidates to select from, with the college of education being the least after university and polytechnic. They see this as a reflection of the place of teachers in the society.

    A teacher, Emmanuel Badang says there is a code of ethics for teachers that guides the manner of their dressing at all times and not just in the classroom or school environment and laments that many in the profession do not take that serious.

    He says “of course, there is a code of conduct that guides teachers in their dressing. This is because students will always want to be like their teachers who are expected to be role models. A teacher’s dressing can add to making a subject more interesting, thereby increasing the process of assimilation. When a teacher dresses well, the students will love the teacher and will always want to draw close to him or her. It is a psychological thing.

    “Teachers are expected to dress decently and must have modesty as their watch word. We are not expected to over dress as the students will be carried away and we are expected not to dress shabbily. In terms of wearing trousers for women, it depends on the school but generally speaking, wearing of jeans and canvas or party clothes is not accepted except corporate wears or traditional outfits,” he added.

    A physics teacher in one of the secondary schools in the federal capital territory, Mana Jakada also bares his mind on the effects of teachers’ dressing. He says “students do not consider just the teachings alone but also the dressing of their teachers as their appearance can make the students to love or hate the subject. Students imitate their teachers within school premises and also at home and that is why it is important for teachers to dress well as students always look up to them.”

    Truth is that a teacher’s dressing or appearance is important in the life of his or her student. Also, many of them try as much as possible to be exemplary in their dressing and public appearance conduct as none can claim ignorance of the impact of dressing on the students. But like other categories of workers, teachers are being either owed salaries or are poorly remunerated in some places in the country and this affects their dressing. It is argued in some quarters that teachers’ dressing and overall conduct affect the academic performance of their students.

    But a teacher, Dinatu Jakada says “there is no excuse whatsoever for a student to fail and blame it on his or her teacher’s inability to dress well. A teacher’s mode of dressing is an individual thing which might not be unconnected with his/her background, upbringing and the environment he/she finds him/herself.

    “However, some of the teachers take correction and adjust as they mingle with others, even though, that is for those who are not opposed to change. For some, the students might sum up courage and speak to them about it as it is allowed for students to correct their teachers as no one is perfect. But the bottom line of it all is that every student is expected to excel, the teachers dressing not withstanding as the students to some extent have no business with their teachers’ dressing.”

    It is expected that the teaching profession which is noble and one of the most important in the world will be accorded the respect which it deserves and of course teachers adequately remunerated so much so it reflects in their dressing and impact on their students.
    Kuni Tyessi writes for Leadership Newspaper

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