|It would be of great importance to the world at large were the public schools of America to institute a "good manners department” in the kindergarten, the primary and intermediate departments of all schools. — Ella Wheeler–Wilcox|
Teaching in School —
Need of Instruction to Make Children More Courteous and Refined
Training in Good Manners Is Essential to a Country Which Is a Smelting Pot of Offspring from Every Nationality on Earth
OUR school system needs revolutionizing. The community is taxed heavily to support school institutions. The introduction of the drawing master, the music master, the district nurse, the visiting dentist and doctor, all means increased taxes for the people. Most of these innovations on the old school system (which consisted of teaching the "Three R’s — reading, writing and 'rithmetic" ) are of value to the children —the coming generation of men and women.
It is, however, the opinion of many thinking people that the time and money expended on the teaching of art in our public schools, might well be reduced to a minimum. Not one child in one hundred possesses sufficient talent in this line to make it worth while to continue the study after school years. The child who does possess such talent would be discovered, were not a whole community taxed and the time of an entire school taken a portion of each day, which might well be devoted to something of more universal value.
One of the most important things in the education of any man or woman is good manners. Manners which do not offend in dally deportment. A man may know nothing of art and nothing of music and yet not offend his neighbors, though he live to be a hundred years old. But the man who knows nothing of the niceties of good manners at the table, or deportment in public vehicles, or places of entertainment, is a continual annoyance and irritation, to his fellow beings. To eat noisily, to display a toothpick in public, to use the knife where the fork is intended, to crowd in front of women and children, to talk loud in public—all these habits interfere with the general well being.
It is in the early childhood life that right habits should be taught. It would be of great importance to the world at large were the public schools of America to institute a "good manners department” in the kindergarten, the primary and intermediate departments of all schools. Ten minutes each day given to instruction by short talks and demonstrations on these subjects would accomplish miracles of good.
Listen to the "gum-chewers," the right way of manipulation of the knife and fork at the table, the right attitudes, the proper use of the napkin... are all matters of much greater importance in the education of the average child than instruction in drawing or in dissection of dead animals. Our country is a smelting pot of every nationality on earth. Our schools are composed of children from all classes and all climes.
Many people come to us whose lives in the old countries have been passed in remote places, far from centers of civilization, where no knowledge is obtainable of the niceties of life. The children are reared by these parents in the same habits which characterized their early environments. A large majority of these children will grow up to be intellectually brilliant men and women, and many of them will occupy prominent places, industrially and politically. It is important that they should be trained in good manners in the small things of life as well as in intelectual development. If young children are made to realize that good manners are regarded as a part of education, they will use their influence upon their parents. —Ella Wheeler - Wilcox, 1921
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