Modern Manners - A Masterclass

To some, manners may seem like an old fashioned concept, one which no longer applies to modern times. Because of this, manners are not made a priority and are often kept in the background at schools. The importance of good manners, and the impact it will have if someone is perceived to have bad manners, are rarely explained to students.

Mr Sam Shaw, Deputy Head of Sixth Form, and Mr Jonathan Gayner, Teacher of Computing and ICT, are firm believers that manners still matter, which is why they decided to give a presentation on modern manners to the School’s Sixth Form.

Mr Shaw began the presentation by stating, “Manners are not the preserve of the upper-classes. Manners are for all, for each and every one of you.” The main focus of the presentation was manners in communication, particularly email etiquette.

The use of emails will become increasingly essential to students, especially to those in the Sixth Form, as they progress to higher education and seek employment. Communication with their university professors and tutors is likely to be done partly through emails, and this will be the same for their correspondence with future employers. This means that students need to be equipped with the skills to be able to write formal emails, with correct grammar, punctuation and tone so that the recipient of the email has a positive perception of them.

However, simple good manners were not forgotten. “Saying thank you and please, holding doors open for others, not being too demanding, not complaining too much, not dominating conversation, having civilised table manners, all of these are basic things that all of our students know, but sometimes need to be gently reminded about,” Mr Shaw explained. “We didn’t do the presentation because our Sixth Form students have bad manners or are rude, far from it in fact. We did this because it is important to focus on the small things that mean a lot.”

Although the topic of manners may appear to be dry and uninspiring, Mr Shaw and Mr Gayner made sure that the presentation was lively and humorous. They had asked teachers to send them examples of less than polite emails they had received from students, which was greeted with laughter as some of the emails had come from members of the Sixth Form.

Elizabeth Leadbetter, a Year 13 student, commented, “The presentation was very good. Sometimes we don’t give much thought to manners, and even less to how we write emails, so this was a good recap.”

Antonia Johnstone, also in Year 13, said, ‘My uncle just wrote me a long email about not saying thank you. I didn’t realise it meant so much, but it does. People expect you to behave in a certain way and, if you don’t, their perception of you can change.”

With manners still a key part of how we interact, it is no wonder that Mr Shaw and Mr Gayner were keen to get the message across to students of how important manners are.

Mr Gayner summarised the presentation by saying, “Manners are not unobtainable; manners are easy.”

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