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Mrs Bowers' Thought for the Term: Courtesy

Posted on: 29/04/2022


Courtesy - the showing of politeness in one's attitude and behaviour towards others.


Some people consider courtesy to be an old-fashioned value, something not relevant in the 21st century. Some people make assumptions about young people lamenting their lack of manners and judging them by the stereotypes promoted in the media and some people are a little fearful when they see groups of young people out and about. My grandma recently told me about the experience of one of her friends waiting at a bus stop near her home. There were a group of teenagers also waiting. The minutes ticked by and the time for the bus passed - the group got a bit louder, joking and pushing each other around and my grandma's friend was feeling a bit nervous. After a bit, one of the boys broke away from the group and she braced herself for the encounter, not sure what to expect.

"Excuse me," he said politely, "Do you know when the next bus is due?"

My grandma's friend was very pleasantly surprised by his impeccable manners, so much so that she went away from the exchange impressed enough to tell her friend about this remarkable event, her view of young people positively impacted by such a small thing: some everyday politeness.

And this is my experience too, small acts of courtesy can be incredibly powerful. When I let a car out in front of me in traffic and the driver gives a little wave or a nod of acknowledgement, I experience a moment of connection which brings me joy, not to mention that it reduces the frustration or even potential road rage which can be built up when sitting in traffic. Similarly in school, my favourite duty position is the main gate in the morning; I enjoy greeting every student, welcoming them to Wednesday, or congratulating them on making it to Friday. Some students hurry past me avoiding eye contact, some roll their eyes at my poor attempts at humour, but some smile and say 'hello', or 'you too Miss' when I wish them a good day and those moments of connection lift my spirits for the day ahead.

Making a habit of acting with courtesy makes it much more likely that you will go through your day greeted by smiles rather than frowns. Our schools are big communities, and every point at which your day intersects with another person, you have the opportunity to act with courtesy.

Why not start today? Thank each teacher as you leave their lesson. Hold the door open to allow someone else to pass. Lend a pen to someone who has forgotten theirs. Ask the teacher on duty how their day is going. Pick up a piece of litter without being asked. Queue respectfully and say please and thank you when you are served in the canteen. Watch the other person smile, enjoy the moment of connection. Make courtesy your contribution to our community every day.

Mrs Bowers
Deputy Headteacher, St Birinus School

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