Why are there dress codes

Dress code : Why is there no dress code in schools?

The longer and stronger the sun shines, the more interesting the subject of skin becomes at schools. It is a contentious issue - especially with regard to the body regions that can be seen above the workbench. How much skin do girls and young women show? How do young men look who show the results of regular work in the weight room in a muscle shirt or who like to wear their pants baggy? And how do teachers deal with it? The dress code in schools is discussed regularly - at the latest since a 13-year-old schoolgirl from Lower Saxony became known across the country in June 2003 because she wanted to follow lessons in a bustier, which the headmistress intervened. And the question is always: How much skin can you see?

It is obvious that such quarrels break out in spring and summer, says Oliver Dickhäuser, Professor of Educational Psychology in Mannheim. Dickhäuser has dealt with school clothes for years. He names the regions of conflict pragmatically and close to everyday life: If parts of the pupil's poses can be seen, or the popular tattoo with the name “ass antlers” or daring cleavages, there are conflicts in the class. And it is above all the teachers who have to deal with these conflicts.

Only one thing is relatively certain: if the school management wants to impose rigid regulations on them, pupils can invoke the Basic Law and the right to free development of their personality. Student clothing is a private matter - first of all. "In order to ensure peace at school and teaching, the school can set guidelines in order to avoid provocative or disturbing clothing," says the Berlin Senate School Administration. For example, the wearing of textiles from Thor Steinar, which is assigned to the right-wing extremist scene, or military clothing can be prohibited. This is also possible with "provocative or annoying clothing such as transparent blouses or trousers that let half the buttocks become visible".

The emphasis is on "can". The experts in politics and school administration assume that strict regulations for a dress code can hardly be legally complied with. The student who wants to make a name for himself in a muscle shirt in the schoolyard must therefore be touched and convinced pedagogically, either discreetly in a one-on-one conversation with the teacher - or in front of his classmates. If, for example, he is offered to work with clay in art class, he can happily pack a few more pounds on his luxury body.

Schoolchildren, education professionals and politicians all agree that such cases and arguments are rare. Cathleen Haack, spokeswoman for the Brandenburg State School Council, knows of regulations in this context, if at all, with regard to politically provocative issues such as Thor Steinar shirts or T-shirts by right-wing extremist music groups. Then the 18-year-old student says a very true sentence to justify the fact that there is much less regulation than some think: "We don't want to embarrass each other." If you want to present yourself, you do it in the evening in the club or in the disco.

The fact that clothing conflicts are rather rare may also have something to do with the fact that girls' fashion that is particularly low in fabric (buzzword cropped) is no longer in vogue anyway and the prerequisites for filling out an impressive muscle shirt require a lot of time. Dress codes are still being debated. “Can you always meet this brand requirement ???”, it says in a Berlin school newspaper under the heading “School uniform”. For years, uniform school clothes have been seen as an antidote to the cult of branded fashion. The uniforms are not enforceable - see "free development of personality". At most, by resolution of the majority of pupils and parents, one can agree at a school that certain T-shirts or sweatshirts should be used as school clothes. Schools in Hamburg, Berlin and Potsdam have allegedly had good experiences with it. However, Professor Dickhäuser was unable to find scientific evidence for the positive effect.

In addition to the students, educational politicians also see a need for discussion - the fashion may have become more subtle. Wolfgang Schimmang, City Councilor for Education in the Berlin district of Neukölln, hears, as he says, from more and more teachers that the girls in elementary school - or their mothers - are already affected by an excessive urge for styling. For example, the fingernails would be varnished for school, says Schimmang, and: “I don't know whether ten-year-old girls - attention: boys too! - must have colored strands of hair. "

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