Courtesy - Dead Art or Professional Relic?

By Grosse, Susan J. | JOPERD--The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, February 1996 | Go to article overview

Courtesy - Dead Art or Professional Relic?


Grosse, Susan J., JOPERD--The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance


I can still remember my mother telling me (again, and again, and again) that when meeting an adult, I was to speak first. A polite "hello" would do, but I had to speak. I also was expected at an early age to write thank-you notes and answer letters. As a child, I did not get a whole lot of personal mail, but relatives in different states sometimes wrote or sent gifts, and if I was the recipient, I had to respond. I even had a time limit. Two weeks was the maximum allowance for responding.

College brought a whole new set of rules to follow. We wore navy shorts and white blouses for major classes, and they had to be cleaned and ironed. I had to make appointments to see professors. There were deadlines. There were procedures for everything from how to quote someone else in print to how to apply for a job. Furthermore, since I was still living at home, all the rules from my childhood remained in effect. I left college with as much knowledge, skill, and courtesy as my parents and professors could pack into me.

Today I can walk down a school hallway and say "good morning" to five different staff members, and if it is a good day, maybe two will say "hello" back. I send out professional mail and receive answers maybe 40 percent of the time. If I receive an answer within two weeks, it is a miracle of modern communication. I appear on time for appointments and wait up to an hour for people who sometimes don't show up at all. Deadlines are nonexistent.

Technology has given us the capability for rapid communication and, along with it, a whole new set of compensating behaviors. Use an answering machine at night so you won't have to actually talk to the person. If you don't want to respond at all, just blame it on machine failure. Need a slight delay? You were on vacation! On the Internet, computer error and virus infiltration can cover a lot of bad manners.

Education is a service profession. It relies on people interacting with people to succeed. Individuals thrive on accomplishment through interpersonal relationships. Educators do not function within a vacuum. In any situation, individuals make either a positive contribution or a negative contribution - to someone else's endeavors as well as their own. Even that simple "hello" in the hallway recognizes that a person is there. No one likes to be ignored.

Do we have the time? We need to make time. If we are rushing through life so quickly we cannot relate to those around us, we are missing a lot. …

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Courtesy - Dead Art or Professional Relic?
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