Teaching our Children Respect

04th Jul 2018

School is the training ground for many of the values and principles we tend to associate with success.

Children do not pop out of the womb with inbuilt resilience and perseverance, they have to learn it through trial and error, reflection and advice from those around them.

Equally with the value of Respect children need to be reminded what this means, what is looks like and importantly recognise when they have failed to show it adequately to those around them.

I was taken last week with a video of the French President, Emanuel Macron, which showed him reprimanding a French teenager for being discourteous towards him at a WWII ceremony. The clip can be found here. What is surprising is the wholly natural reaction of the French leader in having the backbone to explain clearly and eloquently why the comment was disrespectful.

It reminded me very much of a school teacher in full flow dealing with an unruly individual at the back of the class. Respect is a universal value, most of us would consider a natural prerequisite for us to function in society.

It does not however, mean that all views need to be listened to or indeed tolerated and certainly does not mean that the views of the individual trump the views of the majority.

In school we see these same challenges play out as some children conflate individual liberty with respect, and feel their voice always needs to be heard because they are as important as everyone else. This is both right and wrong. Young people are learning that to function in a group means to respect the inbuilt rules of that group, or as Macron puts it, form a revolution to over through the old order.

Assuming this is unlikely in Radnor, or any school for that matter, children need to understand and frequently be reminded that to really progress in this world means knowing when to keep quiet and filtering out any comments before they bubble to the surface and erupt in the form of an outburst in lessons.

Coming back to Macron it also reminds me of the need for each of us, as sensible adults in today's society, to uphold the importance of respect ourselves. We should not outsource it to schools and we should model the behaviour to our children that enables them to one day command the same respect from those they interact with and lead.