Magazine article Phi Kappa Phi Forum

How Shall We Learn? How Shall We Live?

Magazine article Phi Kappa Phi Forum

How Shall We Learn? How Shall We Live?

Article excerpt

I have always been interested in manners. My parents hailed from Eastern Europe, and although uneducated, they cared very much about training my brother and me in proper, respectful behavior. I have brought this experience from my home as a child to my home as an adult raising four daughters and then into my college classroom. Manners are also foundational to the educational experience in my psychology classroom.

In the college classroom, not only do I want my students to understand human development across the lifespan through their text and class time, I also want them to understand why this psychological knowledge matters, how it links to the world outside of the classroom walls, and why this knowledge opens their personal doors to life and learning. I believe that it also opens the windows to their souls.

The following five ideas increase the likelihood of our working together in civility and consideration as a classroom community.

1. Presume welcome and extend welcome. Students arrive at my class each day presuming my welcome. They wait for my smile and my greeting. They wait for me to ask them questions about their time between our last class and this present class. It is critically important to me to learn their names as soon as possible in the semester and to call them by name each time I see them in class or on campus. I honor them by remembering their names.

2. Be present in the moment. "Pay attention," the experts tell us. As a child, I remember hearing my parents' admonition, "Pay attention to the moment. It passes by very quickly!" From my parents I also learned that along with the fleeting moment, there are also manners of the moment. I learned to anticipate the needs of others by learning those rules of civility. Being in the present and paying attention are gifts that my students and I honor in our classroom community, as well. …

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