Bi Darong would probably watch Peter O’Toole’s 1969 outing as Charles Edward Chipping with a warm sense of appreciation. What she’d welcome most about O’Toole’s role in Goodbye Mr Chips is what his iconic character – a British schoolmaster – is wearing: a conservative suit, a black gown and a mortar board.
That’s because Bi – a member of Nanjing’s influential Political Consultative Conference – is aghast at how Chinese school teachers are dressing. So she has convinced the city to publish a new set of guidelines mandating what they can and can’t wear.
According to the Modern Express, Bi thinks Nanjing’s teachers dress either too sloppily or too sexily. She is the inspiration behind a document issued last week, titled: ‘Fifteen Etiquette Recommendations for Nanjing Primary and Secondary School Teachers’.
The bulk of the new directive seems to be aimed at female teachers: it bars scoop necklines, body hugging dresses, short skirts and any item that reveal too much skin.
In best Chinese style, Bi’s recommendations have been reduced to six ‘don’ts’. These are: don’t wear dirty, skimpy, translucent, revealing, short or tight clothing.
The directive is quite comprehensive and goes beyond an aversion to flesh on display. It also seeks to encourage exemplary behaviour in the classroom, informing teachers that they must be “radiant and energetic and should appear happy and full of self-confidence”. The Modern Express also points out that good deportment is expected too: “Demeanour requirements are quite high as well: when sitting, hands should be clasped or placed atop each other, and legs should be together or crossed. When standing, legs should be straight and together, the abdomen held in, and the hands crossed in front of the body. The head should be erect. When walking, no noise should be made and footsteps should be steady. Refined conduct is requested in the classroom; pacing is discouraged.”
Sounds like more than a few of Nanjing’s teachers may need a spell in finishing school themselves.
Elsewhere in Jiangsu province there is concern less about what teachers have been wearing and more about what they have been saying on the internet, reports Danwei. In the city of Pizhou, blog entries about the misappropriation of a school pension fund have seen three teachers detained for their forthright postings.
Pizhou’s Bureau of Education has since forbidden online venting by the city’s teachers. In a new circular it warns school staff “not to do things they ought not to”. And in further Big Brother speak that would have done Orwell proud, teachers are told they “should not indiscriminately talk about what they should not be talking about”.
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