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Friday, November 15, 2019

Manners make the man

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It was recently Constitution Day. As a teacher, it is one of those holidays we don't send kids home to play video games and eat pizza. Those holidays always confuse me. I'm pretty sure Martin Luther Jr. would be horrified that kids celebrate civil rights by NOT being together in academia. Constitution day is different. We are together and it is my honor (not school mandate) to draw students back to the forefathers.

This year.... based on what I have seen with students returning from COVID the greatest need is MANNERS!  I can not tell you how significant is the decline in manners. Whether it be "yes sir," picking up after themselves, or non verbal body posture. Students who I had two years ago and were respectful, young scholars now slouch in their chair with hoodie over their head. They are quick to hot temper, slow to work, fast to grumble and show disrespect, and are a little bit gross - especially on sloppy joe day.

So this year, we worked on etiquette - drawing from our first president.

Here are a few of my faves.

Every Action done in Company, ought to be with Some Sign of Respect, 
to those that are Present. 

When in Company, put not your Hands to any Part of the Body, 
not usualy Discovered. 

 Shew Nothing to your Freind that may affright him. 

In the Presence of Others Sing not to yourself with a humming Noise, 
nor Drum with your Fingers or Feet. 

 If You Cough, Sneeze, Sigh, or Yawn, do it not Loud but Privately; 
and Speak not in your Yawning, 
but put Your handkercheif or Hand before your face and turn aside. 

Sleep not when others Speak, Sit not when others stand, 
Speak not when you Should hold your Peace, walk not on when others Stop.
Image result for george washington
Thus are some of George Washington’s rules of civility. 

One of the responsibilities of middle school is the beloved shift of cafeteria duty.  Where the Rules of Civility are as rare as a teenager listening to an eight-track player.

If that image makes you laugh, be sure to follow Washington's 24th rule!
Do not laugh too loud or too much at any Publick Spectacle.

There is a lot in a school lunch to encourage devolvement into entropy and chaos. It is twenty minutes. That includes walking from a classroom, standing in line for their starch laden delicacies,  and finding a seat.

In truth, students have under ten minutes to actually eat.it is also the only time in the day they can talk freely to their peers.   So it is no surprise that they eat dribbling food, spilling sauces, and breaking every etiquette rule ever taught. That is, assuming someone actually did teach them. For some I wonder.

Let us recall Washington's 98th:
 Drink not nor talk with your mouth full 
neither Gaze about you while you are a Drinking.

It saddens me that we don’t teach manners. Like wood shop, I believe it is an essential part of an education. Young men and women should learn how to conduct themselves in public.  The social sphere is where they will locate jobs but also where they will find places to invest their charitable and volunteer hours.

Nothing saddens me more than how students throw their trash away. Not all, but many toss (gently maybe, but still a toss) their styrofoam trays (aren’t we suppose to be saving the planet?) into the trash.

107: If others talk at Table be attentive but talk not with Meat in your Mouth.

This inevitably means our elderly janitor pushing the van receives a barrage of mash potatoes sludge, spaghetti sauce, or maybe the worst day chili remnants upon his shirt and pants.

The time it takes to walk an extra two steps (or in some cases get out of your seat and stand) to deposit the tray in a kind fashion is less than ten seconds. It is also the difference between granting value to a human being.  Mr. Jackson’s generation gave our students integrated schools, educational opportunity, and technological innovation. But even if they had not, there is a dignity we all should know and express to those who serve us.

Whether it be a veteran, a waiter, a store clerk, a doctor, or a man who cleans your lunchroom.
For George's rules end nobly:

Labour to keep alive in your Breast that Little Spark of Celestial fire 
Called Conscience.

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