Civility and its related idea of tolerance seem to be essential virtues in a liberal democracy. However being virtues they do not automatically spring up in young people. They need to be carefully inculcated by parents, caregivers and teachers. How do you go about inculcating them in your clasroom?
Further thoughts. I've been looking around the web and found these resources
Some primary sources
Two classic American short stories about civility
I think that one of the best ways to teach civility is by example. If the teacher models proper classroom etiquette, asks class members to help write a list of policies for the class, and then enforces the rules, everyone benefits and learns to be civil.
This may not be exactly civility, but most teachers of adults have trouble with cell phone use during class. With your class's help you can draft the rules of no cell phones turned on during class; then you have to bend the rule because someone has a sick child. Then, you discover a young student texting under the table. I do think this is an issue of civility because phones beeping and ringing disturb each and every class member.
Does anyone have good methods for handling this recurring problem?
Cell phones may well become a tool in classes. A cell phone can be an Internet connection, a calculator, a polling device.
So, you are so right, we need to have a method of handling cell phones in the classroom. If they are being used in the lesson, then they should be on the desk, front and center. If they are not being used in a lesson, they should be turned off and put away.
I think you have the right idea when you work with your students to develop cell phone rules for the class. This should give them buy-in. Everyone understands the exception of a sick child.
What to do if the rule is broken. Hmmm...how about taking the battery. Now, one more thought, any time you take the battery you are responsible for returning it at the end of class, imho.
How do you disagree with civility? Some great guidance from a variety of sources courtesy of the Chronicle of Higher Education
Here's a further suggestion.
When George Washington was a teenager he took his first steps to greatness by copying out by hand a list of 100 rules of civility. Popular historian Richard Brookhiser discusses the signficance of shaping the innner man by outward behavoir.
More thoughts on teaching civility from a veteran teacher, middle school principal, and project director for several multi-million $ Teaching American History grants from the Dept of Education
I think about the teaching of civility all the time, the consequence of nine years as a middle school principal.
One could do worse than begin with George Washington’s Rules of Behavior. You may recall that Richard Bushman started his presentation on America’s refinement with the distribution of Washington’s Rules. Courtesy guides and etiquette manuals of the past have been reproduced and might be used as supplements to Washington’s Rules. The New Jersey Historical Society at one time had a collection of courtesy guides that they used with visitors to their facility.
PTAs might be enlisted in a civility-learning campaign as a way of apprising parents of a school’s commitment to the practice and perhaps as sponsors financially of formal instruction in social behavior. When I was a beginning teacher in Warren Township, the middle school PTA sponsored lessons in social dancing for seventh and eighth graders; they took place once a month in the evenings in the school’s lunchroom-auditorium; cookies and punch were served. Young adolescents learned not only how to do the fox trot, Lindy, waltz, polka, cha cha, and rumba but also learned how to make introductions (of their partners to the dance instructress) and how to bid adieu to one another, the instructress, and the chaperones, of which I was always one. The boys learned how to ask a girl to dance with them, using the classic “may I have this dance?” a locution that fills me with pleasure whenever I repeat it, even in the absence of a dance floor and a prospective partner. The boys also learned how to serve cookies and punch to the girls before they indulged themselves with a crumb or drop respectively.. They learned also not to permit girls to go without a dance partner for more than a single dance number; (there were always more girls than boys in attendance). Was there any sense of empathy on the boys’ part for the wallflower-vulnerable girls? I don’t know, but they did what was expected of them and would not exhibit any disdain for any of their partners.
I think teachers might be enlisted in a civility-promoting campaign. If they took pleasure themselves in being punctiliously correct in all their dealings with all pupils and co-professionals, dedicating themselves to putting all comers at ease and permitting them, via explication of intent, tone of voice, and visage to be whom they purport to be as an exhibition of “sincerity” on the part of both parties to the exchange, they (teachers) may be models of empathic consideration for all concerned. (One of our 7th grade teachers, rumor had it, used to cry when she read the poem “Over the hill to the poor house” to her classes. She never read it our class, but the students who spoke of her recitation seemed sympathetic with her; she was not made fun of.)
I believe certain pieces of literature may be used to stir empathic responses among pupils. (When Joan Deinhard, one of my seventh grade English students, read Paul Gallico’s “Lou Gehrig’s Epic of Courage” in our Houghton Mifflin seventh grade reader, she could not stop crying; she stirred the empathy of her classmates, several of whom tried to console her. I think short dramatic pieces, e.g., Thornton Wilder’s “Happy Journey to Trenton and Camden,” and carefully selected excerpts from other plays can be effective exercises in role playing.
The New Brunswick Daily Home News, back in the 1940s sponsored a “New Brunswick’s Most Courteous Policeman” contest. Maybe a school could conduct a “most courteous student contest” by grade level or homeroom, monthly or by semester.
Them’s all the thoughts I have on the subject.