Is Courtesy a Dying Art?

Today is National Courtesy Day which “is a great way to remind ourselves that the world is better off when we show gratitude and graciousness in both big and small ways.” Sometimes we forget that simple things can make a big difference.

At the risk of sounding like a curmudgeon, I have to say that manners and courtesy are not something I see regularly in school. I remember as a child my mother taught us how to be courteous and mannerly, to say please and thank you, to hold a door open for the next person, and to push in our chair when we were excused from the dinner table. While I love my middle school students, I am always surprised when I drop something (even my cane) that no one moves to pick it up. When I was in elementary and middle school students would be flying out of their desks trying to be the first ones to help! When students are moving in the hallway hardly anyone stops to let an adult pass in front of them. Very few times do students ask if they can help carry something for a teacher, and I am forever reminding my students to push in their chairs before they leave my room. Please don’t get me wrong. My students will do ANYTHING they are asked to do to help me or another teacher, but few do things without being asked.

How do we get manners and courtesy make a comeback? Has it fallen out of fashion to be courteous? I try to lead by example, but sometimes I think I need to do direct instruction. 🤷‍♀️. What are your thought?

One thought on “Is Courtesy a Dying Art?

  1. Dear Rita,

    First, let me thank you for using the word, “curmudgeon.” I so seldom see it that I was tickled to even voice it in my head (smile). To answer your question, “Yes, it is dying!” and “We must revive it!”

    I recognize that I put myself at risk of being dubbed old-fashioned and conservative. I accept that I am both, and I am o.k. with that. My maternal grandmother lived with me most of my life, and my parents emphasized (as did my uncle on my mom’s side) that courtesy was an obligation and not an option.

    I carry my ways to every classroom as I’ve encountered some rather unsavory students at times (worst case scenario); but, wherever they fall on the courtesy spectrum, I feel it is my duty to educate those who are unaware.

    I am always tactful, and I try to increase the likelihood of their reception by explaining the rationale. I find it works best with humor and gentle sarcasm; but, I feel that by revisiting it often enough, I help them to make a habit of it.

    In many instances, I think they genuinely haven’t been taught (or perhaps, not effectively enough?), which perhaps contributes to their oblivion. Nevertheless, I think we should take advantage of every opportunity to instill it. I fear it is dissipating by the day.

    Carry on your great work, ma’am! You are doing the right thing – and I support you!

    With Warmest Regards,

    ~Dr. Carla Michelle Brown

    Liked by 1 person

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