I have just read a paper from the US about how medical students who dress and behave professionally get better diagnoses from their patients and are more well-respected for the job they do. You can read the abstract of it here.
In the UK education press this week, there was an article written by a British University Professor in Dentistry, who was observing his students interacting with patients for the first time. He noticed that some of them were inappropriately dressed (leopard print leggings), used their smart phones in front of patients to check symptoms and diagnoses (thank you Google) or addressed patients in an informal, even disrespectful way. A 70-year old woman will not like it when a trainee in his/her 20s addresses her by her first name, or worse, a shortened form of it. Older people often find over familiarity patronising in the extreme.
This has led me to consider the relationship between professionalism and respect. One of my old teachers, many, many years ago, said that respect was never an automatic right - it had to be earned. One of the ways in which you earn respect from others is by having respect for yourself. This is something I have always believed is part of the teaching/learning continuum. Teachers at KY respect students who turn up for class on time, dressed appropriately. Lateness and sloppy or casual attire will win you few friends here. I recall the famous old saying: "you never get a second chance to make a first impression."
How you interact with others affects everyone around you. I'm equally unimpressed when I hear a teacher disrespecting a student, a guest or a colleague (thankfully, a rare occurrence at KY, but not entirely unheard of). It may show itself in your speech, your dress, your attitude - even by the expression on your face. Whatever form it takes, it significantly diminishes the individual concerned.
Sometimes KY students object to our dress code, get upset when asked to put away their mobile phones, or are sent to me for persistent lateness. Their annoyance is misplaced. Not only is their education being compromised, but their standing as human beings is affected, too. I ask them what that they think might happen if they dressed or behaved in the same way while at work or being paid for what they do. Most of the time, they get the point.
In The Water Babies, Charles Kingsley's classic children's book of the 19th century, there were two female characters who set the moral tone for readers: "Mrs. Do-As-You-Would-Be-Done-By," and "Mrs. Be-Done-By-As-You-Did." As you can imagine, the former was delightful, the latter pretty horrific. They say that courtesy costs nothing and I hope everyone here remains aware of that.
Finally, and on an entirely different topic, we are all eagerly waiting the release of CIE results this coming Thursday. The tension in college is palpable!