The Director's Corner: On Civility

A lot can be read lately about the need for more civility, whether in the political arena, the everyday workplace or even family life. And interestingly, the recent literature justifies the need not only by the benefits civility brings to the people at the receiving end of it, but also, increasingly, by the benefits it brings to the person practicing it. The reasoning is that perceived rudeness triggers the cascade of neurochemicals leading to a stress response in both parties, and that repeated engagement in stress response negatively impacts the cardiovascular and the immune systems of all involved. Whereas attitudes such as being polite, displaying good manners, and handling others respectfully decrease the probability of triggering a stress response in either party, leading to better relationships, better physical and mental health, and thus a better quality of life for all.

As educators, we are also concerned with civility. We want our students to acquire the social skills that will help them develop the secure relationships and strong support system that will make them successful in adult life.

That is our motivation for having a social-emotional component to our curriculum and for adopting approaches that promote self-regulation, empathy and assertiveness. One of the most successful ways to promote these skills is to model them, which is why the Conscious Discipline model we have adopted aims at teaching these skills to the teachers first, to their students next. Do teachers slip and exhibit less than optimum composure at times? You bet! But all of us try hard to maintain composure because all of us have experienced first hand that calm, patience and empathy help keep or restore calm, whereas irritation, impatience and hurried judgments compound whatever problem arose.

For our children and students to recognize, practice and benefit from civility, all of us in the Magnolia community, teachers and parents alike, need to maintain composure, demonstrate courteous relationships, and handle disagreements respectfully, whether on school grounds, in our cars or in the community in general. Modeling is the key, and it takes a village to raise a child. So let us all commit to making our village as civil as can be. And long live the civil Magnolia community!