Young Americans Demand Lessons in
Young Americans are demanding—yes, demanding—lessons on manners. Starting with how to eat an olive in one lesson, on up to the subtleties of how to be polite though annoyed—high school boys as well as girls are surprising their teachers by eagerness to learn courtesy and tact. That the wave of high school enthusiasm is nation-wide is reported by Edith Stern in the educational journal, School and Society.
Santa Rosa, California, has had to limit its course in etiquette to juniors and seniors, to avoid overcrowding. Students in Phoenix, Arizona, and in Minneapolis have written their own etiquette books, based on hundreds of questions asked by the boys and girls themselves. In a Missouri classroom, a teacher asked 41 freshmen how many had ever made an introduction and got seven raised hands in reply. When she asked if the class would like to be taught, a chorus of “Yeahs” arose.
Psychological reasons backing up the young people’s eagerness to acquire polish are suggested by Miss Stern. Homes no longer teach gracious behavior, she finds, and youngsters find themselves miserable and embarrassed for lack of definite instruction. The teen-ager has discovered that good manners have something to do with popularity, and ultimately, says Miss Stern, with the ability to get and hold jobs.
“New and interesting devices of instruction” are being experimentally evolved. A Baltimore high school has rehearsals of school dances. Baltimore seventh graders listen and learn telephone etiquette by aid of two disconnected phone receivers at ends of a long table. A California school teaches how to order dinner, using real menus supplied by local hotels. Elmdale, Kansas, uses the dramatic method, showing good restaurant manners acted at one side of a stage, and everything wrong at the other side. – San Pedro Pilot, 1939
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