General Question

Captain_Tetanus's avatar

Does anyone but me think that general politeness and manners should be taught in school?

Asked by Captain_Tetanus (205points) March 27th, 2008

I’m 29. I think my generation and all younger generations are ridiculously rude. I’m certainly not calling for the strictness of the 50’s, but please and thank you and not interrupting when people are talking and such may have some merit in our hurried modern world. Especially with so many immigrants coming to the US and with the fact that many kids today are practically raised by sponge bob.

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49 Answers

ishotthesheriff's avatar

hannah montana’s just gonna make things worse [;

bulbatron9's avatar

Yes, I believe etiquette should be taught in school. My wife had a hard time “training” me, and at twenty-eight it is harder to learn new tricks!

cake7's avatar

I believe that manners/politeness should be taught by the parents before they enter school. With etiquette that is usually taught. You just have to choose to take the course.

bmhit1991's avatar

no, you’re not the only one that wants that, but I don’t. I agree that people are rude. I hate it. But I think people have to develop them. Learning things in school is just giving them too many false ideas to begin with. If they can’t learn manners on their own, they should become an outcast. That’s my opinion anyway…

Riser's avatar

Cake7 speaks a truth that is almost taboo today. The parents need to regain responsibility for their children.

And I love the user name of the person who posted this question, especially in the context of the question itself.

Angelina's avatar

I do agree that politeness and civility should be upheld in schools, because it fosters a supportive learning environment. There are a couple of implicit assumptions in your comments that I don’t agree with, though. I know a few older adults (I’m 27) of the boomer generation who interrupt all the time and are just straight-up rude. Conversely, I’ve got some friends my age who I think are very polite. Also, I’ve had experience teaching at the university level and I have to tell you, I had great international students who were respectful, intelligent and added a lot to the class. Being a first-generation immigrant myself, brought up to say please, thank you and which fork to use when, I don’t agree with the blanket statement you make about “so many immigrants coming to the US.”

Captain_Tetanus's avatar

I agree that parents should be responsilbe for teaching manners, but how can parents do that if they work full time and spend no time with their kids? My mom used to come home from work exhausted and go to bed early every night. She spent no time with me. My dad was an alcholic and a stoner. Do you know what it’s like to have a drunk slurring and coming after you with a belt because you forgot to say please when you asked for the butter? I’m polite, but maybe learning in school would’ve been better. What about the kids whose parents are drunks, or drug addicts, it’s more common than people realize. What about the good parents who are working two jobs to pay for gas and food and rent? The basic point, some parents are bad and some parents have no time. Expecting parents to teach manners was fine when the kids were with the parents, and the family worked together. Many families now barely know each other.

Riser's avatar

Poop master, you make an excellent point, unfortunately general education is weakening every day and leaves no room to waste on things like manners or the arts, unfortunately.

Response moderated
Captain_Tetanus's avatar

My apology to anyone offended by the blanket statement about “so many immigrants coming to the US.” I almost left it out because I didn’t want to offend, but I feel it’s an important point. I certainly recognize that many immigrants are actually more polite than others, I’ve known these people. The issue with immigrants is the one I bring up here. I live in a small town and recently we’ve had a lot of central american immigrants arriving. They don’t know the ways of this country which is important. They’ve come from poor areas where crime was rampant. So when they arrived crime increased dramatically. Everything from vandalism and theft to rape and violent crimes. This isn’t hearsay it’s from the newspaper. These problems were absent when the Asian immigrants came. So my point here is that a class in school teaching manners would also let immigrants know what was expected in their new lands if they didn’t already know. I used to live in Milwaukee and I watched the same thing happen there as Mexicans and central American people moved in. Vandalism, rape, drugs, sex with children, theft, etc. . . My family left the area. If these problems are not addressed they’ll take longer to fix. The people doing these things probably left wherever they came from partially to get away from these things, but they are so thoroughly immersed in them it comes with them.

Riser, you are right and I know it. At this point education is stretched to its limits. But I don’t think it’s doing the job it should. Sure the 18 year old girl knows basic algebra, but she doesn’t know that she can’t leave her baby in the sun for hours while she sits there talking on her cell phone and smoking cigarettes.

paulc's avatar

Manners and politeness should be taught but I believe this likely because I was taught manners by my mother and attended catholic school staffed by very religious teachers from Québec (be polite to them or suffer, trust me… tabernac).

I think that people who’ve not been taught manners or politeness might not see the point. If you look at it seriously these are just sets of rules for acceptable behaviour and are, in the end, completely arbitrary. It could just as easily be considered polite to kick someone in the nuts and chew on their ear as a greeting.

Maybe its not the job of schools to teach children manners but it might be their job to help teach children to interact with people unlike themselves.

@bulbatron9, I’ve got 10 points that says it stays. Don’t forget, everyone poops.

Captain_Tetanus's avatar

can you really interact with others without some basic politeness?

Cooldil17's avatar

I think you have the right idea I mean after all; If NJ can make it mandatory that 12th graders take dancing classes, why can’t they teach politeness and manners?

paulc's avatar

@the_poop_master, totally. I’ve travelled extensively in Asia where there are very different social norms. For the most part, so long as people respect each others’ differences, there’s no reason they can’t get along.

For instance, in China people spit and spit everywhere. Old grandmothers, little kids, pretty much everyone. I woke up with spit on my backpack one day on a sleeper train. You can’t really get offended – its just how they do things (its not impolite to them). I know that’s not an example of etiquette specifically but the same principle applies.

Riser's avatar

The sad truth is a sense of respected culture (not respect for culture) is a deteriorating ideal. My old high school lead the state in their drama and arts department for over thirty years. Its alumni included Tony, Emmy, Grammy and Oscar winners. Since its en statement the crime rate in the surrounding area has dropped 45% and the chances of success after graduation rose 77% in only three years. Three days ago I received a call, due to budget cuts, the school has dropped the entire drama and arts program. A thirty two year legacy simply reduced to a handful of pink slips.

Even the football team was saddened at the news, it was that influential.

Angelina's avatar

I have to say, it’s hilariously ironic that you ask a question about politeness when the user name you’ve chosen to participate in this community is “the poop master.”

cornman's avatar

Of course they should teach manners. I would rather hire a kid out of school that has manners and is polite than one that understands every aspect of my business but is a total douche bag.

Perchik's avatar

I think the large question here focuses on the role of the school in the raising of a child, as that seems to be what a lot of the discussion has been about. I’m too tired to form a conclusive opinion on that issue right now, but I think it might be worth discussing

Captain_Tetanus's avatar

okay here’s the deal on my name. I can’t figure out how to change it. I had no intention of getting involved with this site I just knew the answe to the question about why deer poo comes out in pellet form and thought I’d answer that one question. Suitable name for that. Memorable for this one. I’d change it to the fecal fairy or the log leader if you prefer, or maybe my usual name, captain tetanus.

Riser's avatar

Angelina: I liken the user name to someone who might be an expert in potty training, regardless Mr or Mrs. Poop Master is contributing sound intellect and for that I am grateful even if their user name conjures unpleasant mental images of Japanese game shows and feces.

sndfreQ's avatar

@poop: you can contact the site administrators by clicking the Contact link and request a new username in the text body.

Angelina's avatar

I don’t have a problem with the name the poop master, actually. I just think it’s funny because talking about poop (or whatever you choose to call it) in public isn’t generally considered polite conversation. I wasn’t denigrating the question or the user.

sarahsugs's avatar

I teach second grade and I would challenge you to find any teacher of young children worth his or her salt who does NOT teach children to say please and thank you, or who allows them to interrupt each other during class discussions. Your question seems to imply that many teachers are not teaching politeness and etiquette, when I think the reverse is true. And obviously (to me) raising children is a partnership between schools and parents and family friends and youth organizations and so on, all of whom need to work together to foster social skills and positive life habits in young children.

Riser's avatar

@Angelina: Upon reading my response I can see how I was coming off defensive. I was not questioning your statement or intending any distaste in my tone. Words lack the feeling a voice can give, unfortunately.

High respect to you, Angelina.

@Hugs: I think Master was suggesting that it should be a part of the official curriculum in public education.


bulbatron9's avatar

I just want to publicly say “Great Answer” sarahsugs! I hope my daughter has teachers like you. You are a True Teacher!

paulc's avatar

@sarahsugs, you’re totally right but I though the implication of the question was more that it should be institutionalized and not left to the teacher to decide.

Angelina's avatar

@Riser. No worries. I didn’t interpret your comment that way, I just thought I should clarify because I thought my own sounded snarkier than I intended.

cornman's avatar

Well said Sara! I think every effort to support children to be polite should be made. Schools, home, church, scouts and any other activity children are active in should include lessons of politness and respect to others.

Captain_Tetanus's avatar

I wouldn’t mind being spit on in China, but in the same way I expect not to be spit on here. When I’m there I would consider it part of the culture, when they’re here they generally curb the spitting. Also, my dad spits like a camel so I can deal with it.

Wow, offending immigrants and teachers in a discussion about politeness.

I didn’t really mean to imply that there aren’t many great teachers out there. However I’ve been in school and some teachers do and some teachers let the class run amok. A specific class on manners might help kids realize that manners are important. It could even be part of a social studies class. If people learned about manners around the world it might be more fun and help them learn to respect manners in their own country.
Goodnight all.

DS's avatar

I don’t think that teachers should replace the parent in that aspect( some will say yes my parent haven’t got time or whatever other reason) but the point is children learn from day one. If the children hear every day word such as please,thank you as soon as he’ll start to talk he’ll be using them. Now the school is a place where you learn a lot already so I don’t think politeness should be added or integrated.TEACHING IS NOT PARENTING.

DeezerQueue's avatar

I do think that manners and social etiquette should be taught in school. To a degree, certainly that they do not impinge upon moral issues, but an expected and appropriate fashion in which to deal with other people, in different situations.

Teaching assertiveness can probably go a long way towards bringing an end to bullying, for example. It may not solve it completely, but it may help in reducing it. Being assertive is also a form of social etiquette, it allows a person to stand up for their rights without resorting to threats and intimidation, things that simply aren’t socially acceptable, or, at the very least, unpleasant.

I would be all for funding this within the curriculum, as long as there are boundaries, that it doesn’t cross into moral issues, or state that it finds its roots in religion, but from an interest of society.

iSteve's avatar

My Mom once told me that manners were taught in public schools. (She’s 83!) I think it would be a good curriculum addition and that parental reinforcement would be great also!!!

cd7301's avatar

No. This generation of parents are failing. Manners and politeness should be taught in the home. BY THE PARENTS! If the kids have ill behavior, 9 times out of 10, the learned it from the parents. The board of education shouldnt have to back up poor parenting.

FlutherMother's avatar

It takes a village they say (can’t remember who said that and the exact wording), but essentially it is right. Everyone needs to work together. Many teachers do teach politeness, but they often get backlash from parents who take a teacher to task for correcting their child. What kind of example does a parent set when they are rude themselves? I am fortunate that my kids have had great teachers and I could confidently stand behind them and how they teach my child – and yes, I tell all coaches, teachers, other parents to correct my children if they are misbehaving or not following rules. And I don’t believe that working out of the home is an excuse not to teach your children manners. Besides, it’s often not what you say to kids that make the impression, it is what you do. You can tell a kid to say please and thank you all you want, but if you are constantly forgetting this yourself – what do you think your child will do???

Riser's avatar

“It takes a village to raise a child.”

- Hillary Clinton

FlutherMother's avatar

Thank you @Riser. Well, at least everyone can agree Hillary actually got that one right. And I would like to just expound on the working/not having time issue. I know a kid whose mom works two jobs and is never home. He is SO polite and respectful. I also know a kid down the street who has the worst potty mouth and is constantly in trouble at school – my kids avoid him. And his mom is a stay-at-home mom and proclaims her “christianity” any time she speaks. When there is a will, there is always a way. And also simply by treating a child with respect and using please and thank you too (its amazing how manners go out the window when dealing with those that you live with), it will show him/her even better then blocking time off an already packed schedule.

gooch's avatar

In the school parish that I live in it is taught. If a student fails to say yes Sir or yes Mame to a teacher they will be suspended.

Captain_Tetanus's avatar

my best friend went to school in st. Francisville, Louisiana and when she didn’t say ma’am or sir she had to hold dictionaries straight out in both hands. I just don’t think that’s right. However, saying ma’am or sir is important in the south. I rebelled against it, as a northern child thrown into the south where I didn’t want to be at the time. Lots of northern kids did. If they had taken me aside and explained it I’d have been more willing to do it. Instead people just demanded I say it which made me want to be contrary because I don’t want to forced to do things.

christybird's avatar

I feel like if teachers could work more of this politeness stuff into curriculum early on it would be great, especially about how to politely use some of the new technologies like iPods, computers, cell phones, etc. I teach college-age kids and twice in the past semester I have had students (in two different classes) try to keep in one earbud of their iPods while I’m teaching. It is a lab class and only has about 15–20 people in it! I was amazed by their rudeness – I could SEE them. I made them take them out, but I feel like by college it’s too late to really make this stuff stick.

Heck, most adults could use classes on politeness when it comes to their cell phones…

NVOldGuy's avatar

How on earth can you teach manners, when parents make excuses for everything a kid does.
If you tried, I’m sure a parent would bring a notes explaining the child had; loms, mafop, opaw, or better yet lottiab. That is lack of manners syndrome, manners are for other people, other people are wrong. let others teach them I am busy . I think you get the idea.

sarapnsc's avatar

First teach the adults, most of whom are sadly lacking in this forgotten “area called manners”. It is from them that the children will learn. It’s the ill mannered parents that should be sent back to school.

Have you looked at the rudeness of adults lately…car rage, cutting in line, cell phones in public places, parents fighting at sports games, swearingbullying others and even rudeness on chat boards and the list goes on.

Schools are there to further the education of our children, not to be a substitue for parents. I think teachers have enough on their agenda’s without having to take the responsiblity that parents should instill in their children.

This is not to say that good manners should not be encouraged or rewarded in school.
Teachers can have a large influence on children & should always aim to set the standard of behavior themselves, or how can we expect it of others.

Part of teaching is in the extra-curricular interactions that take place in school and it is here that teachers can have the greatest impact on a child’s social behavior-not through formal classroom training.
Parents should teach good manners and etiquette, teachers should enforce it. Manners should not be taught in school, they should be reinforced & expected.


kruger_d's avatar

I’m not sure that the problem is that manners are not taught. They are. Ask any teacher. Ask any parent. Many schools do have programs that specifically address respect, bullying, politeness, etc. Any teacher worth their salt corrects behavior continually throughout the day. I think we are seeing a consequence of the fact that kids are increasingly incapable of empathy, compassion, and generosity. They understand ettiqette. They just don’t see the upside for themselves in using it. I also wonder if media, and the fact that many watch media intended for adult audiences, is much to blame for the fact that many kids equate rude with funny.

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

Kids do equate rude with funny, but that’s not new. What is different is that there is no societal ramifications for bad manners. Parents are quick to rationalize/defend bad manners on the part of their children. We have a society where winning is all-important, and that seems to justify bad manners.

Darwin's avatar

Manners should be taught at home, at school, at church, and in public, wherever people interact. Too often today people behave badly never thinking that they are modeling poor behavior in front of little eyes who remember everything.

tiffyandthewall's avatar

it definitely should be taught in school. yeah, the parents should be teaching their kids manners, but the problem is that some don’t. in most of the classes i’ve been in, good manners have definitely been taught. honestly i think part of the problem is lack of reinforcement. i’m not saying all parents are rude, obviously, but when a kid is told to say his or her pleases and thank yous but doesn’t see the same modeled at home, it doesn’t stick with them. i think reinforcement is lacking more than initial teaching.

Sorceren's avatar

No, but.

Manners should be taught and demanded when the kid starts speaking; leading by example works best. By the time they get to school they should expect good manners from others: Good manners and good habits “should” be modeled at home and heavily reinforced in school and everywhere else!

Unhappily, not everyone does what he or she should, but the rest of us do not have to bite our tongues.

Folks, we da village! It takes all of us to raise well-mannered kids!

Ron_C's avatar

I believe it is. At least in my time, the teachers were always addressed as Mr., Miss, Dr. etc.. No running in the halls, no hitting no loud noises, keep quiet in class, and ask for permission before you speak or if you need to leave the room. There was and still is a dress code, rules for behavior in the Cafeteria and a number of others that I can’t remember. That has not changed in our school district. If common courtesy does not exist, it is the fault of teachers, parents, and the administration that they are not.

I know that my children had broken some of the rules and my wife and I have been summoned to the principals office. It is not an experience that I would like to repeat and I am sure that my children found those meetings and the consequences unpleasant. The meetings were very few and far between.

By the way, Sponge Bob says please and thank you, and seems to have rather good manners, especially for a square, porous person.

Pandora's avatar

When I taught in day care, our children where taught table manners and the rest from the time they were two. They had to ask to leave the table, ask for food to be passed and not allowed to talk when someone had the floor and to say excuse me and wait for the reply.
Unfortunately, if its not re-enforced at home than it goes no where.

OneBadApple's avatar

I’ve always felt that there should be a mandated high school course called ‘The Real World’, which educated students on things which would be useful to every one of them later in life. This would include instruction on acceptable personal behavior, but also enlighten the students regarding things such as tax preparation, political corruption, criminal scams, common marketing tricks, negotiating a car purchase…..topics which people can actually USE throughout their lives. They shouldn’t have to learn them by making costly “hard knocks” mistakes.

Yes, I suppose that it matters when the Magna Carta was signed, and how many Hessians fought in the Civil War…..but couldn’t the time spent learning these things be put to more practical, valuable use ??

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