Please enjoy Ms Hopkins' Thought for the TermPosted on: 27/05/2022
I’ve always associated the word courtesy with having good manners and being polite. This week I asked some Year 7 students what they think courtesy is and was both surprised and delighted when they explained that to them courtesy means making everyone welcome.
I asked them to elaborate and was given a number of examples. One student talked about playing football at breaktime with his tutor group and how they made sure that everyone who wanted to play could, he explained that making sure nobody felt left out was being courteous.
Another student shared that he had not been able to attend school for the first two weeks of the school year in September and had been worried about missing his first lessons and the opportunity to settle into his tutor group. It turned out that his worrying was unnecessary as the other students in his tutor group took great care to show him where to go and tell him where he needed to sit in lessons. He told me that he thought his tutor group had shown him courtesy by making sure that he felt like he belonged.
A third student explained that a friend of his had recently fasted for Ramadan and then celebrated Eid. He said that he knew very little about either but could see that it was important to his friend and so had gone home and found out about them. He wanted to do his friend the courtesy of developing knowledge about things that are important to him.
This conversation made me reflect on my own interpretation of the concept of courtesy and realise that those Year 7 students are completely right. Courtesy is definitely about manners and politeness, and we absolutely do show courtesy by saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. However, courtesy is also so much more than this. It is about having a genuine and deep respect for others, treating them with warmth and showing them that they are an important and a welcome part of your community.
Lewis Carroll wrote that ‘courtesy is a small act, but it packs a mighty wallop’ and the stories the Year 7 students shared with me showed that the considerate choices they have made to create a welcoming and supportive community have had a ‘mighty wallop’! Their considered commitment to courtesy has resulted in individual students being made welcome and feeling secure in the knowledge that they are welcome and that they belong in the RET community.
I was inspired by the interpretation of courtesy that the students shared with me. They live and breathe the value of courtesy every day by being polite and demonstrating manners but also by the actions they decide to take that show a deep respect for their fellow students. My resolution for term 6 is to be more like a Year 7 student and show other people absolute courtesy through actions as well as words.
Ms Julia Hopkins
Assistant Head Teacher
St Birinus School