Shaping the Future
By Beula Postlewait
As I watched a morning TV news show, I observed a reporter being really rude to the person being interviewed. The interviewed man had invited the reporter to his home; the reporter was a guest in his house. The reporter showed very poor manners. Would children who watch this interview consider the reporter’s behavior good or bad?
Who teaches today’s children basic manners and ethics?
I am facilitating a parenting class at my church. I have enjoyed the privilege of working with parents who are truly concerned about teaching their children the right values, self-discipline, and right choices. The discussions have been lively and interesting. Not all parents are willing to take time from their weekly schedule to learn and enhance their parenting skills.
Back to my question: Who teaches today’s children basic manners and ethics?
In two-parent homes, many times both parents are working. In single-parent homes, the parent is usually working a full-time job. It is difficult to find the time and energy to accomplish all the things that need to be done at home.
In some families, the TV or the phone consumes most of the family’s time spent at home. Both of these devices can have good values. However, if they consume many of our waking hours, they must be monitored carefully. Each has the potential to enhance or to destroy the values we want our children to have. Just knowing that TV programs have to be rated tells us that many shows are not suitable for our children, especially younger children, to watch. The brain records everything we see and stores a record of it.
As I thought about this topic, I realized that during the school year, teachers have more direct time spent with the children on school days than parents, grandparents, or guardians. The average amount of time that a child spends at school in a week is 32.5 hours. See http://www.ur.umich.edu/0405/Dec06_04/20.shtml.
Along with learning curriculum content, the children at all levels are watching the teachers and administrators to learn how they react to situations. Do they show kindness, honesty, and integrity in the way they deal with situations that arise? Are the principals and teachers the role-models of the way we want the students to live when they leave our schools? Actions usually speak louder than words. And, words spoken in anger or in haste often come back to haunt us.
I think of the impact of teachers at church. They can have a big impact on a child’s life. Almost everyone who attended church as a child can remember a teacher who made a big impression on his or her life. However, most of those teachers could not spend up to eight or more hours a day working with the children. They had jobs and families that also needed their attention during the week. Some children may only receive one or two hours of religious training during the week.
Christian schools have the advantage of being able to talk about God, Jesus, and the Bible. Teachers can readily quote Bible verses and teach biblical concepts. Students in those schools are watching to see if the principals and staff live out the principles they are teaching.
Those who work in a public school setting have many hours during the day to be a living example of good manners and moral values. I have a daughter who is an elementary librarian. Last week I volunteered some hours in her school library, helping to shelve books. I saw many different classes, and each class seemed to have its own personality. I was reminded that teaching can be a very difficult job in today’s schools. I also observed some really good students who showed good manners and respect. My daughter has learned that in the public schools her co-workers come from many different backgrounds. Unlike the Christian school, many educators in the public schools may not attend church and may never have attended a church activity. This does not mean that they are not good and ethical people. Many of them are. My point is that children today need to have principals and teachers who will provide a role-model for good manners and ethical behavior.
Because educators have influence over the children for a big percentage of their awake hours, more is expected of them. As Christian educators, regardless of the setting in which we teach, more is demanded of us. We need to be daily examples for both the children and our co-workers.
In reality, children need role-models from each of these settings: home, school, and the church. We need to work together to accomplish this purpose.
“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:6, NIV).
“Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:2, NIV).
“Now in this way those who are trusted with something valuable must show they are worthy of that trust” (1 Corinthians 4:2, NCV).
Will my life be a role-model for my children’s (students’) manners and ethics?