Manners are still important in today's world
Instilling good manners is one of the most beneficial legacies you can give your children.
Originally published in the Moultrie News.
Are manners still important for today’s students?
Yes, instilling good manners is one of the most beneficial legacies you can give your children.
Imagine you’re a teacher who receives these emails:
1) Good morning, Mr. Stallings! I received a 90 on our test last week, but it was entered as a 9. I know you are busy, so I am grateful for any help you can offer. Thank you!
2) I got a 90 on my test and u put it in as a 9.
Both have the same objective, but because 1 is better-mannered, it makes all the difference to the teacher reading it. It raises the student’s esteem in the teacher’s eyes, and it puts the teacher in a good mood, which has benefits for the whole class.
Unfortunately, teachers get a lot more emails like 2 than 1. That’s what makes good manners so arresting — they stand out. When I go through old yearbooks, the students I remember most favorably are those who had the best manners.
That was true of Kelly, a student I didn’t even teach. Every day she came to my room to pick up the attendance card. She always knocked, smiled, said good morning, and replied with thank you — simple qualities with an outsized impact. She was a daily ray of sunshine.
One day she was sick, and another student picked up the card. She barged in without knocking. “I need your card,” she said loudly. When I took too long getting it to her, she rolled her eyes. It wrecked my morning, so I put a sign on my door that said, “No one but Kelly can pick up my attendance card!”
Good manners are powerful like that. They lift our spirits. Rudeness has the opposite effect. It casts a pervasive pall. Manners help; rudeness hurts.
Manners even change the attitude of the person practicing them. When you make it a habit to hold the door open for others and they show gratitude, you start to feel that their needs really should come before your own. Manners help inspire humility, and the happiest people I know (including students) are also the humblest.
Whether its towns, jobs, or schools, communities thrive when its members have manners. When someone walks by and says “Hello” or “Good morning,” you feel connected. When they ignore you, you feel alone, like a stranger in a strange land. Good manners draw out the good in us.
Manners give children confidence by equipping them with standard social skills. Social anxiety is rife among youth. Many students won’t talk to their teachers or even order their own meals in a restaurant. They’re afraid to talk to adults because they don’t know how. Much of this is because we no longer instill basic manners.
Most importantly, good manners communicate respect for others. That’s very much needed in today’s self-serving society. And the thing of it is, good manners aren’t hard to teach. It just takes patience. Here are the manners I see a small number of exceptional students consistently exhibit every year. How many do you think are too difficult for kids to learn?
looking at those they’re talking to
saying “please” and “thank you”
saying “ma’am” and “sir”
letting others go first
cleaning up after themselves
being on time
offering to help
If I were starting a business and I had to choose my workers based on those manners or a high GPA, I would choose the manners because, in my experience, manners are usually coexistent with other desirable qualities like integrity, dependability, and initiative. Manners seem to be a tide that lifts all boats.
In an age where kids take on thousands of dollars in college debt to get a leg up on their careers, manners provide an astonishing return on investment. They cost nothing in time or money yet magnify one’s opportunity for success and enrich everyone’s lives that they touch.
Read the original column here.
Thanks for reading Teacher to Parent! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.