OUR SO­CIAL SKILLS THAT HAVE FALLEN BY THE WAY­SIDE

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Thrones.

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.

Pic­ture: TAIT SCHMAAL

CHIVALRY: Rostrevor Year 11 stu­dent Luke with the col­lege’s Deb Winch­ester. The school is teach­ing stu­dents about eti­quette.

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