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Old Fashioned Courtesy

Where has it gone?
Author Bernard Wong Head of Year 9

A school is a very busy place, a hive of activity with many rules to follow. At times some of our College rules are challenged by students, and I would think nothing wrong with students sharing their opinions.

However, it is the way some respond which often requires a gentle reminder around the use of good manners and common courtesy. It is apparent that parents have taught us from a young age to say, “excuse me”, “thank you”, “please” and “you’re welcome”. However, it is evident that the use of manners and common courtesy has deteriorated, and little has been done to rectify the issue. I have found myself correcting those who often respond with “what” as opposed to “pardon”.

With so called ‘modern behaviours’ where people race past each other without acknowledgment or live in a world of ‘expectation’ where many have become ‘demanding’, with little consideration for others – it is very important that we remind students of the simple things which have significant impact. Evidently, our use of smart phones and electronic devices has meant that the lack of verbal communication has led to the decline in courteous behaviour. So, what can we do to improve the way we communicate with each other?

As we continue to provide guidance for students of ATC to be Men of Courage, I believe courtesy is the cornerstone of achieving success. Most would agree that courtesy is simply the use of polite manners, whereby a person is respectful and considerate of others. Such behaviour requires a selfless attitude and can give you perspectives on other’s situations. For our students, it is important that we shift away from the ‘macho’ approach, where students don’t think it appropriate to use courtesy; rather, it is greatly important to realise that kindness and consideration can build one’s reputation as a respectable and thoughtful person, emulating the actions of our for-fathers in Blessed Edmund Rice and Brother Ambrose Treacy, adopting traits expected of ATC Men of COURAGE.

This week alone, I had the pleasure of reminding students in Year 9 about the challenges which Mr Warr raised at the start of the year, whereby students and staff are encouraged to do more of the following:

1. Say “Hello” first
2. Say “Thank you” more
3. Have good manners
4. Listen to understand
5. Help others

All suggestions align with the same philosophy of common courtesy. Caught up with worldly issues, we often find ourselves focusing on so-called ‘bigger’ problems as if other, ‘smaller’ problems make no difference, when in fact, change must begin with something as simple as being friendly, courteous and showing off good manners. We can all contribute to the improvement of ATC and ultimately, society by putting into practice and enacting common courtesy.

Good intentions simply aren’t enough, action is required. So, the challenge is to do the smaller things better, starting with common courtesy. Let’s continue to educate and train our children about the importance of good manners. Keeping in mind that this isn’t just a job for parents or teachers, but for each and every one of us; by continuing to be signs of faith and becoming positive examples for others, demonstrating how we should communicate, how we conduct ourselves and how to be courteous in our daily lives.

I wish you a good day!
Bernard