Standard wisdom espouses that education is the best means for self-improvement. Betterment through education cannot be denied, but one can get almost equally far in the world with simple good manners. There used to be entire schools devoted to nothing but etiquette. Thankfully, gone are the days when young women attend finishing schools whose sole purpose was developing social refinement, and believe me, the young women in attendance had already arrived at finishing schools with far more in the way of social training than any young women in today’s world ever receive.
Evidence shows that today’s families have largely abandoned teaching good manners at home and schools rarely even try to fill that gap. As a result, there are many after school and weekend classes for young children now comparable to the finishing schools of the past whose sole focus is the teaching of social skills, table manners, and the lost art of conversation.
Good manners are the foundation of morality, which, in turn, is the foundation of ethics and ethical behavior is the foundation of socially responsible action. In a true and visible pathway empathy leads to courtesy, courtesy and kindness lead to morals, personal morals generate ethical behavior and, if everyone were ethical, most all of society’s ills would diminish.
Children are naturally curious, hard-working and persistent, but they are not naturally well mannered. Manners must be taught, acquired and developed. Childhood is the time in which to learn and hone manners, instill morals, teach ethics and create citizens who will recognize, exemplify and personify all that is required to achieve social justice.