MANNERS GO LONG WAY IN PROMOTING CIVILITY

January 03, 2002 11:00 pm

Fran Hartman has a new spin on teaching her fourth- and fifth-graders how to behave in appropriate ways.

After traveling the globe for two years, Hartman concluded that manners are a boon to civilization and should be a core subject. The Everett (Wash.) School District teacher recently taught her students manners by putting on an English-style high tea.

Boys at Cedar Wood Elementary School were expected to dress in the suits and ties their dads provided. They were asked to not walk ahead of the girls to the tea, but hold the door for them. They seated the girls at linen-draped tables and asked them what they preferred to drink punch or apple cider. Girls were taught to shift their legs to the side and keep their elbows off the table.

The students were taught what silverware to use with each dish and how to keep their napkins on their laps. They also were told to not begin to eat until everyone was served, not to chew with their mouth full and how to speak to others in quiet, respectful tones. Students were seen pushing their chairs into the tables upon leaving the meal.

Hartman, noting that American children are used to fast-food restaurants and hurried lifestyles, drilled the children in manners before the tea. The teacher said that in other countries people conduct themselves well they look at you when they speak to you, they say hello when they pass you and theyve learned how to say please and thank you.

The children in her class responded well to the assignment, and parents were amazed with their newfound behavior.

High teas and instructions in manners could be made a part of other elementary schools curriculums, if for nothing more than it helps elevate civilization. Theres another bonus. Parents, who show up to help at the tea, might learn a thing or two by watching how their children behave.

PRISTINE EXPERIENCE

Much credit should go to the members of the Grande Ronde Nordic Club for the work they do each year on the 25-kilometer Meacham Divide Ski Area, 17 miles west of La Grande on the Summit Road exit of Interstate 84.

Club members were at the site on New Years Eve grooming the trails and preparing the area for a quality experience for cross-country skiers this winter. Northeast Oregons snowfall Thursday appeared to be exactly what was needed to reduce ice on the trails and make them less choppy for skiers.

Meacham Divide is an inexpensive place for novice or more experienced skiers to hone their skills. All that club members ask is for non-members to make a $3 donation every time they use the area. Thats a small price to pay for people to enjoy a nordic skiing experience in some of Northeast Oregons most beautiful surroundings.