Joko MacKenna

Stay away from the top knot

When a young teacher fears students have lost his respect

"Yannow, I think my students have lost respect for me." my twenty-something colleague admitted as we sat in our space near the mall entrance on a smoke break.

"Huh." I responded. "Whaddya mean? Why?"

"I think it's because of the hair." He continued, head down, eyes staring at the concrete in front of us. "I don't think they take me seriously anymore because of my top knot."

BWAHAHAA! Okay, control yourself, Joko. This was a junior colleague who looked up to me and he had a serious issue here. Still, I couldn't entirely stifle my guffaw.

"Well," I tried to console him, "you don't really want your students taking you too seriously anyways." I've found that for me personally, getting students to lighten up in my presence has been one of my challenges. Smiles are part of my uniform and I've taught wearing a Santa hat just to lighten the mood in the classroom.

Now, if your personal grooming choices as a teacher are a distraction, that's a different story, but could a top knot do that? My young colleague seemed to think so.

I mean, extreme piercings, facial tattoos, neon hair colors, yeah, these approach the point where they're so un-teacherly that students here in conservative Asia might be taken aback. These choices often prevent prospective teachers from even getting a position in the first place.

So as is in the business of providing advice to ESL teachers, I have a new warning when it comes to hair choices. Stay away from the top knot!


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