He Says She Says 08/07/10

This week: What's in a name?

He Says:

It’s the little things that add up to make a civilised society and they are being nibbled at by the likes of my co-host believing that it is acceptable for a pupil to address a teacher by their Christian name - as in, 'Dave I forgot my homework' - just another example of the fabric of society being broken down.

Many will accuse the young of having little or no respect for their elders. I don’t believe this to be the norm, as I personally know many kids who are truly lovely and when I was younger I witnessed my share of badly-behaved children - even back in the so-called 'good old days'.

But in my book, to call a teacher by their first name has no benefit to pupil nor teacher. The problem with many in a position of authority is they want to be friends and not disliked by their charges. This inevitably leads to liberties being taken. Many in high-powered jobs will still refer to their superiors by there full name and title so instilling a respect for titles is setting some good ground rules for life.

I would still find it difficult if I was to meet a teacher many years after leaving school to call them by there first name; it would seem wrong. I have worked with many schools over the years and still feel like a kid when I’m in one and feel I should address all who work there as 'Mr' or 'Miss'. Our listeners seem to agree with me, saying 'Using a first name creates familiarity, and teachers are not supposed to be familiar with pupils'; or 'Calling teachers by their first name is not acceptable. It;s about boundaries. You call friends by their first name but not your teacher who should be seen as an authority figure.'

Whereas this may seem like a silly argument and many may see it as another little bit of pomp and ceremony we could do without I refer back to my opening comment that these little thing make a big picture. What next, high-fiving the Queen?

She Says:

I must admit I was a little shocked the other day when I talked to my niece on the phone and she called her drama teacher by his first name, but the more I thought about it, the more I came to the conclusion that after a certain age there probably is no reason to call a teacher Miss, Mrs. or Mr.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m big on respecting your elders and people in authority, but I don’t think that by using a person’s full name it means that you respect them or are respectful - it takes a lot more than just adding Mr.

As a parent, I feel that it is my duty to teach my daughter about respect. She should speak to adults in a certain way, she should behave in a certain way when around adults and under no circumstances would I ever expect her to back chat an adult under any circumstances. If she did, she would be in serious trouble, so I do take respect very seriously, but respect is something you earn and something that we as parents should teach our children.

At school, I want my daughter to respect her teacher and the other members of staff all the time she is there, but I don’t think that comes from calling her teacher Miss Phillips. Part of it will come from me and the other part will come from her teacher by earning respect in the class and by being an authority figure to her students.

Now, I am not expecting teachers to be their pupil’s friend and I would draw the line at calling them ‘mate’, but isn’t it a little old fashioned to think that when we leave school that everyone is calling each other Miss Harrison and Mr. Day, because we don’t?

Where as I am all for manners and better behaviour from children in general, I don’t think the bad behavior and a lack of respect has come from calling people by their first names, rather from a lack of good parenting.

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