The Importance of Manners in the Classroom

Edmund Burke, the 18th century British statesman, said that manners are more important than laws. According to George Bernard Shaw, the Irish playwright, “Without good manners human society becomes intolerable and impossible.” Manners are what make civilization civil. Hal Urban, author of Life’s Greatest Lessons: 20 Things I Want My Kids to Know, suggests holding discussions on manners.

Following are some questions that Urban suggests:

  • Would a society be better if people treated each other with respect?
  • How are classrooms and schools societies?
  • How can good manners be one of the most important keys to success in life?
  • What is the Golden Rule? How is it civilizing?
  • Which impresses people more: being cool or being courteous?

The following questions promote additional reflection on the topic:

  • What do you think about getting up, walking across the room, throwing something in the wastebasket, and then walking back across the room while the teacher is talking?
  • What do you think about speaking to others and especially adults in a defiant manner?
  • What are disadvantages of swearing in classrooms and in conversations between classes?
  • What difference does it make when approaching someone with, “May I please have. . . .” in a pleasant tone versus saying, “I need. . . .” in a demanding tone?
  • What are the advantages of using, “Please” and “Thank you”?
  • What do you think about listening when the teacher is talking versus feeling the right to ignore the teacher and have a private conversation?
  • What do you think about listening when a fellow class member asks a question?
  • What do you think about demonstrating an interest in other people versus being solely concerned with yourself?