Monday, August 17, 2015

Talking ties

My daughter Rachel passes on this observation. She knew I would like it:

Yes, ties take time to tie and sometimes get uncomfortable. However, a tie tells everyone you meet, “I respect you, my job, and myself, and I’m willing to take the time to show it.”

Harry K. Wong and Rosemary T. Wong, The First Days of School: How to Be an Effective Teacher (2009).
I started wearing a tie in my last three years of teaching, for two reasons. Certain candidates for the Republican presidential nomination had appropriated the elements of my style, making it impossible for me to wear button-down shirts and jeans and sweater-vests in good conscience. And I had come to realize that my old square-end knit ties were now vintage ties and that such ties were once again being made. So I began to buy, tie, and wear. I wasn’t thinking about respect though. I was having fun.

I was once told of a teacher who told his students that teachers who wear ties “think they’re better than you.” He of course wore no tie. I hope that at least some of his students saw his us-and-them strategy for the cheap trick that it was. I know Rachel would have.

comments: 2

Sean said...

Immediately following grad school, and being a little down on ties for the most part, a senior faculty member I met during my first university position expressed a very similar sentiment as the one quoted in your post. But he also added: As you are standing in front of a classroom of music students you're not just disseminating that day's theory lesson. You are also tacitly representing to your students that you are an example of choices you've made — everything from what you chose to wear that day, the importance and value of the lecture, to the things you've chosen to dedicate your life to — and that those things are important and worthwhile.

The message—that those choices are being constantly transmitted and reinforced by just about everything you do in (and out of) the classroom—has remained a powerful one for me, especially on those days when the extra mile seems more like a marathon.

Michael Leddy said...

I heartily agree. What that professor said reminds me of something Bryan Garner and David Foster Wallace talk about in Quack This Way: that writing conveys all sorts of messages to an audience beyond the content of what’s said.