OUR SOCIAL SKILLS THAT HAVE FALLEN BY THE WAYSIDE
John Schluter, who worked as a teacher and principal in South Australian schools for more than four decades before recently retiring, says there’s been a notable rise in schoolyard swearing.
“It’s become increasingly common for students to use expletives on teachers ... back in the ‘80s or ‘90s if you told a teacher to ‘f**k off’, you’d have likely been suspended but now it’ll hardly get you a time out,” says the former educator who maintains close contact with many teachers.
Scotch College Principal John Newton says it’s disappointing people in leadership roles are opting to set a bad example through swearing in public.
“The problem is kids don’t understand what the words they are hearing really mean ... for them (swearing) is an empowering thing, it feels adult, it feels tough and liberating,” he says.
“I think it is important to get kids to think about the impression they are creating by using them on the sports field or wherever, by asking: ‘Is this really what you want to be renowned for?’”
Mr McCrindle says many parents are feeling time-poor and frazzled, leaving teaching HOLDING a door or lift open and opening doors for women SAYING “please” and “thank you” SAYING “hello” or acknowledging people GIVING our full attention to others while they are talking etiquette low on the list of priorities – and a reliance on smartphones is creating new challenges.
“While our devices connect us up, they are also powerful in strategically isolating us from others. It is not that we are less kind but we are less aware,” he says. “For this generation of screenagers, new etiquette has emerged (“liking” a photo one is tagged in, replying swiftly to a text message and turning phones to silent in quiet spaces) but much traditional etiquette has faded from our logged-in and linked-up communities.” Schools are increasingly bringing etiquette into GIVING up seats for the elderly and those in greater need BEING respectful to elderly people NOT swearing in public MEN showing respect to women CLEANING up after oneself DRIVING courteously and giving the classroom. Etiquette consultant Amanda King from Success With Manners says her company is being sought to provide short as well as termlong courses in many schools across Adelaide.
“Our most popular class has been our pre-teen etiquette program which covers everything form the importance of verbal and non-verbal communications to handshaking, eye contact and social greetings,” she said. “Learning how to be more confident and appropriate in social settings is more necessary than ever, especially with the explosion of social media and technology.” way to other drivers GREETING “good morning” to passer-bys, such as fellow joggers or the person next to you on public transport – instead, we’re likely to have headphones on listening to music or on our smartphones
Hygiene, grooming, presentation skills, image, dress codes and appropriate attire are also among topics covered.
At all-boys Rostrevor College, English teacher Maria De Leso started talking to students about etiquette about four years ago to help prepare them for work experience.
Since then, her classes have grown to incorporate lessons before school dances and formals.
“Society is so casual these days that many little things, such as sitting down to a table and understanding place-settings, aren’t really a part of consciousness,” she said. Her focus is basic respect and consideration for others.
“We talk about not having out your phone to track footy results over dinner ... it’s really about saying to the person you are with, ‘you’re important’ ... in our technical world we can tend to become quite detached and oblivious to the needs of others,” she said.
Sydney-based Australian School of Etiquette director Zarife Hardy is buoyed by a renewed interest in etiqette and manners.
“We’re now offering programs in Sydney and Brisbane and will expand into Adelaide in 2018 due to the high number of inquiries we are getting from SA,” she said.
“Just because life has become more casual, it doesn’t mean manners and etiquette aren’t important. The type of words you use, both spoken and in emails and texts, go a long way.” She says modernday etiquette is about much more than what to do with your pinkie finger while drinking a cup of tea. “It is about in- terpersonal skills, good manners, making people feel welcome and comfortable in your home. And most importantly, feeling confident in all situations you enter in life,” she says.
“We work a lot with young people around the etiquette of conversation. Because of smartphones and communicating via things like text message, many have lost the ability to communicate effectively in person.”
And she says young people aren’t getting the role-modelling they once did.
“Many families, particulary those in which mum and dad both work, are time poor. It amazes me how many young people tell me they don’t sit at a table to eat dinner,” she said.
“We’ll look at everything from first impressions and introductions, to everyday manners, positive body language, social media and table etiquette.” And when it comes to swearing? “Just don’t do it. It doesn’t make you cooler,” she says.
CHIVALRY: Rostrevor Year 11 student Luke with the college’s Deb Winchester. The school is teaching students about etiquette.