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Please enjoy Dr Hawes' Thought for the Term

Posted on: 20/05/2022

I’ve often heard courtesy referred to as an ‘old-fashioned’ virtue, as though it were a characteristic of the past. Perhaps this is because it links in our minds with a nostalgic sense that the past was a gentler and more respectful time. It is common to hear people these days talk about the deterioration in society, and how social media in particular is leading to a more rude, offensive and discourteous society. This type of comment is often directed towards young people, as though they are to blame for a fall in standards.


There are certainly aspects of online interactions that seem to lend themselves to judgemental reactions, unkind comments, and arguments. Being courteous online is just as important as in person. This means remembering that the person we are interacting with is a real person who has feelings, and treating them as such. If we can pause before we hit ‘Send’ and think about how our comment is going to be read when it arrives, it will be a big step towards a more kind and courteous world. This is an issue for the whole of society as we come to terms with the new technological age.


However, it is interesting to read that comments about the deterioration of society have always been made by some older people. In 1925 the Hull Daily Mail newspaper commented: “We defy anyone who goes about with his eyes open to deny that there is, as never before, an attitude on the part of young folk which is best described as grossly thoughtless, rude, and utterly selfish.” As far back as 470BC, the philosopher Socrates is quoted as saying: “Children; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise.”

It seems to be the case that the young will always be blamed for the problems of society! Anyone who works with young people knows that this couldn’t be further from the truth. We are constantly reminded of the energy, enthusiasm and creativity that burst out of our students. A week in the life of any of our schools will see multiple examples of new initiatives, participation in events, and commitment to important issues coming from our student bodies. And most importantly, we daily see examples of kindness, care for friends, and courtesy towards others in the community, both students and staff.

It is clear that our young people often exemplify all the standards of kindness and courtesy that we value, and this is what makes our schools such a joy to work and study in.


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