I’ve previously posted on the topic of teacher’s attire (see A Question On Teacher Attire). In that post, I wrote about how I have worn a tie and sport coat every day I have taught (except for when we’ve gone on field trips). Here’s an excerpt:
Apart from weddings and funerals, and from seeing people wear ties on television and films, I may be the only person most of my students have seen wearing a sport coat and tie.
I think this kind of attire slightly elevates my authority in the classroom, so I believe it’s in my self-interest to continue to wear it. However, I’ve been trying to figure out what, if anything, students get out of seeing me wear these kinds of clothes. Okay, I’m the only one they see dressing this way — so what? I’d like to think there is some benefit for them, but I can’t think of one.
That post results in forty comments, and I definitely don’t get that many often.
I was reminded of that post, and that question, by a recent study that has been receiving a lot of attention this week. Researchers suggested that they had discovered “enclothed cognition” — that wearing certain clothes can affect how people think and subsequently act (they experimented with people wearing white lab coats):
“Clothes can have profound and systematic psychological and behavioural consequences for their wearers,” the researchers said. Future research, they suggested, could examine the effects of other types of clothing: might the robe of a priest make us more moral? Would a firefighter’s suit make us more brave? “Although the saying goes that clothes do not make the man,” the researchers concluded, “our results suggest they do hold a strange power over their wearers.”
I wonder if wearing a tie and sport coat affects how I teach and, if so, how? I’ve got to think about that one…
What do you think — does how you dress affect how you teach?
Here are links (in addition to the one I’ve already included in this post) about the study: