Old School Tie

About two years ago I decided to begin wearing a tie to work. I had a few reasons for doing this. First, I was trying to buck myself up and feel more professional. Okay, admittedly, that's a superficial way of going about it, but it actually did make me me feel better. A second reason was my son. I wanted him to see his dad going out the door in the morning wearing a tie. I was a blue collar kid, the son of a union painter, and my class consciousness rides up now and then.

So the question is whether wearing a suit and tie in the classroom makes much of a difference. There's a lot of research on dress codes for students in high school, but so far as I can tell no one has researched the effect of a dress code for teachers and professors. Occasionally a student will ask why I dress up or say, "I like your tie," but there seems to be no discernible pedagogical advantage to wearing a tie and suit coat. It's odd, too, because I could write a treatise on the effect of the room itself and even the arrangement of the tables and chairs. The feng shui of a class room makes a tremendous difference. A tie? Not so much.

Except with my colleagues. Their reaction has been the most curious. Some assume I'm angling for an administrative job (they really don't know me at all if they think that). Others are just puzzled. They ask, "What's with the tie?" I have a few standard responses to disarm them. If I'm feeling mischievous, I'll just mutter in passing "Job interview." Then I walk away and let them decide whether I'm serious. Mostly, though, when asked about the tie I just shrug or make a lame crack about "looking more professional in lieu of actually being more more professional."


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