Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Respect, Basic Manners and the role of the Teachers and Schools


I have just participated in a discussion on FB about the role of teachers and parents in teaching children manners and respect for others. It was quite interesting and a bit disturbing as I was told off for indulging in a 'personal attack' on one or two posters, because I stated quite categorically that I do not believe that it is the role of teachers and educational institutions to teach respect to children. Personal attacks are poor practice in debate and it appears that these people do not understand what a personal attack is. I simply attacked their argument that it would be a good idea for the school to take up the issue of some boys bad behaviour at a birthday party. They stated it all boils down to their education and teaching respect should be done through the educational institution.
Yes, it is the role of teachers and educational institutions to reinforce and uphold values and standards that are common to all of us and make for a good and egalitarian society both in the home and outside it.  In the case of religious schools, one would expect that those values and standards that are dear to the particular religion or social group would be reinforced and espoused through out the school and embedded in the school curriculum.
However the buck starts and stops at home. If parents cannot teach manners and respect at home, how can you expect them to be manifested in children's behaviour outside of the home and in school. It starts in the home from how the children are treated and what behaviour they see in parents, aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents. The message about how you treat others comes from the home. Yes, your children may pick up some language and behaviour from other children at school,  but ultimately it is you - the parent who sets the tone of behaviour. Yes, there are exceptions, but it is something that most parents are aware of. The school can only reinforce the positive tone of respect for others, community awareness and social values when the ground work is laid for these values in the home.

It is always interesting to read the posts of parents who feel they can take the pressure off themselves and rely on others to 'teach their children respect and manners' because prehaps they do understand that this is where they are lacking themselves and thus they must call on the educational institutions to educate their children in some of the basic values of life. It is exceedingly selfish of them. Teachers and schools are about education and skills for life. They reinforce and strengthen the values of the home.
When you break in a young horse, you start when it is a yearling to teach it to lead and to be around humans and to communicate and to be civilised. If you have an orphaned foal, you have to be very careful that that animal does not become too familiar with humans and therfore disobedient. In other words, you do not spoil it. You teach it respect. There is a fine line between respect and spoiling children. Even parents must distance themselves from children who are behaving in unacceptable ways.  Look at Ishmael and Avraham and why does Rivka want Ya'cov to have Esav's blessing of the first born. One has to be worthy of one's parents and heritage. The understanding of respect is more than manners it should be embedded into our psyche.

What is wrong with the above quotation? It says that respect is dependent on you giving it. No way hosea. You have to give respect, even if you do not get it in return and hopefully you will influence others to behave more respectfully.

Let us end with that you must love your neighbour or your fellow as yourself. Think about what that implies.

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