Where Are Your Manners?

Disclaimer: This is a bit of a rant, so apologies in advance.

Lately, I have made several observations about the lack of manners in society today.  Now I had high expectations from a strict father who had strong Midwest values and norms to which we had to conform.  But it seems like people of varying ages have simply lost their ability to be respectful.

Two weeks ago I attended a David Gray concert with my friend Michelle Baldwin at the beautiful historic Orpheum theater in downtown Omaha.  While I understand it was a concert, it was still at a nice venue.  This tour was a much more quaint set with rugs on the stage and lamps to create a more intimate setting.  David Gray is quite the storyteller in his music and in between songs.  About three songs into his set, members of the audience began to yell things out in between his songs, such as song requests, the occasional “I love you”, and random comments.  At first, I didn’t think much of it because Gray had actually crowdsourced the set list if you went on his website.  However, when it continued throughout the entire show, I quickly became irritated, annoyed, and then just embarrassed that people were behaving like this.  If you know Michelle at all, she is a music teacher with many performances under her belt, she was just as irritated.  We sat there in awe at the lack of decorum that adults had at the concert.

Today I went to the 10:45 service at church with my husband.  Once again, I was appalled at the lack of manners.  It’s church.  Not a coffee shop.  Not a local hangout.  Not a daycare.  One mother in front of us noticed her toddler started to make noises, so she quickly left the sanctuary to tend to her.  Unfortunately, another couple in the second row had a toddler that started making noises as well.  Except, they didn’t do anything.  She stood on the pew for the last half of the sermon, through communion, and the closing songs screaming, babbling, and the like.  She was shushed a handful of times, but nothing else.  Across the sanctuary, I noticed four teenagers arrived 15 minutes into the service to sit in the balcony.  In the duration of the service, they got up, weaved through the pews to the stairs while talking, four separate times.  Meanwhile, a gentleman in the fourth row right in front of the stage got up to refill his coffee in the middle of the sermon.  Really?  All of this in church?

I have certainly had my moments growing up, but I like to think that I have enough respect to have manners in any of these venues.  Or if I didn’t when I was younger, I was certainly dragged into the nearest restroom to be told how I would behave by a stern father.  This just doesn’t seem to be happening today.

I understand the difference in kids today.  I’ve heard how they learn differently.  I’ve read studies that show kids communicate differently.  But does this have to mean an end to manners?  Quite simply, no.

It is our role as ADULTS (I hesitate to say just parents or teachers because the duty is not only on us) to model and teach respect.  It is something that is learned and yes, CAN BE TAUGHT.

If we teach character education and say school mottos about being respectful, responsible, and safe citizens, then the expectation needs to be there.  So, where are your manners?

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7 thoughts on “Where Are Your Manners?

  1. This is very REAL. I teach 8th grade language arts in Iowa and I think manners have left even the Midwest. That is aging something. I think manners are a necessary part of a positive society.

  2. I totally agree with you. There is a lack of respect being modeled, taught, and expected of children these days. It is sad. I am horrified, on a weekly basis to witness the rudeness and inconsiderateness (is that a word?), of others around me. I too was brought up with behavioral expectations and brought my son up in the same way. Teachers loved him in class because he was respectful. He knew what the expectations were and if he didn’t follow them, then yes, I took him out of the situation for that “stern talk”. As you pointed out, however, it’s not just the kids, but adults seem to have lost all sense of respect for their fellow human. It’s all about “me”. Sad.

  3. My father-in-law has a whole unit on manners. At the end, they have a big fancy dinner at a local restaurant. The kids, year after year, always come back to tell him how much that one unit, outside of the curriculum, mad a difference to them.

    In my class, we work very hard on please and thank-yous. For the boys, we work on “ladies first” and holding the door open for others (boys or girls). It’s important. A lot of the manners (and what used to be social norms) are no longer taught in the home. This is quite obvious when we have conferences.

    Our society has become very self-centered. There is a terrible sense of entitlement from all “levels” of society. Everybody seems to deserve something; regardless of whether they need it, earned it, or deserve it. I feel that is the root of this very problem. When people feel somebody, or society for that matter, owes them something, there tends to be an arrogance that trumps the need for manners and cordial interaction.

    It is a sad state in which we find ourselves and our students. Unfortunately, or representatives in Washington aren’t much better. We don’t have a lot of good public examples anymore. If we want change, we have to be that change. Thanks for the reminder Kristina.

  4. Sometimes we, as educators, are the worst models for respect during lectures and learning times. Attending a conference or workshop and talking the entire time is not exactly modelling the manners we would like to see with our children. Modeling is key.

    “How we teach becomes what we teach” — Larry Cuban

  5. I couldn’t agree more, with your post and the comments! I too was brought up this way and have raised three boys to have respect and a moral compass. People are often shocked at their appropriate behavior, when it SHOULD be the norm, not a shock! Another reason I love the work of Ron Clark, who will stop his class and practice until proper respect and manners are shown in every situation! We all need to follow that lead to regain a respectful society!

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