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A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

For use with Talking Point worksheets

Moderator: TalkingPoint

A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

Postby TalkingPoint » Thu Jun 29, 2006 10:22 pm

Read the text and complete the Quick Quiz below it.

A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

"Clothes" – not a very controversial topic, you might think. But think again. Even if we consider something as seemingly straightforward as the function of clothing we very quickly find that very little is as simple as it seems. Some may say that the primary function of clothes is to keep us warm, others will quickly respond that they are to protect us from over-exposure to sunlight. Certain garments can also denote class, rank or one's place in the social hierarchy. The ceremonial placing of a crown on someone's head indicates that the wearer is now a king, queen or prince etc. Religious leaders can often be easily identified by their special robes and headgear. The religious faithful may adopt certain dress codes as a mark of their faith. Some schools insist that pupils wear a uniform in order to create a sense of belonging. Players in sports teams wear the same kit in order to have a sense of unity. People who work in the emergency services often don reflective clothing so that they can be easily seen. Soldiers wear khaki combat gear for camouflage so that they can't be easily seen. Some people dress in a certain way to attract a sexual partner, others may wear clothes that hide their bodies and faces from prying eyes completely.

All over the world, clothing has been invented and adapted to fulfil a rich variety of roles. So at what point does "Clothes" start to become a controversial topic?

Despite what some people might say, clothes matter. There are people who don’t seem to think much about what they wear and it might be easy to believe that they don’t mind what they put on in the morning. This may well be true, but it is true to say that they have the choice of what to wear, even if they don’t think about it. It is when that choice is taken away that clothes suddenly become an issue.

Problems often occur when certain establishments which have specific dress codes are met with people who have alternative dress requirements or preferences. Tennis players who don’t wear white when playing at Wimbledon suffer the wrath of the tournament's organizers. In Britain, Sikhs who wore turbans instead of helmets when riding motorbikes, used to fall foul of the law. More recently, establishments which ban clothing and headgear that obscures the face (e.g. hoods, helmets etc., often for security reasons) have run into trouble with people who need to wear face-covering veils for religious reasons. Companies who have been operating a "dress down" (casual dress) policy on Fridays are now facing opposition from employees as the management tries to improve the company image by insisting everyone comes to work dressed smartly, Fridays included. Cambridge University caused such a stir by banning the wearing of traditional Scottish kilts at graduation ceremonies that the issue was even raised in Parliament!

Hence we can see that, surprising though it may seem, clothing is a topic close to people's hearts, a subject that touches on issues as diverse and even controversial as social hierarchy, sexual attraction, national pride and religion.

Quick Quiz: Read the clues below and write the solutions on a piece of paper. Then take the first letter of each answer and rearrange them to find the hidden word connected with this Talking Point.

1. People who work in the emergency services often __________ reflective clothing so that they can be easily seen.

2. Cambridge University caused such a __________ by banning the wearing of traditional Scottish kilts at graduation ceremonies that the issue was even raised in Parliament!

3. More recently, establishments which ban clothing and headgear that obscures the face (e.g. hoods, helmets etc., often for security reasons) have __________ into trouble with people who need to wear face-covering veils for religious reasons.

4. Some people dress in a certain way to attract a sexual partner, others may wear clothes that hide their bodies and faces from prying __________ completely.

5. __________ wear khaki combat gear for camouflage so that they can't be easily seen.
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