since relocating from the north of florida (read: the south) to the north of virginia (read: the north), i'm noticing a distinct difference in people. people in my neck of the woods, so to speak, tend to be friendlier than your average hustle-and-bustle northern city. at least the ones i've visited before, i.e. chicago, miami (yes, i know it's down south and warm, but it ain't southern by a long stretch!). strangers will smile at you on the street if you make eye contact and initiate. busy businessmen and women will thank you if you hold open a door for them. politeness is not absent up here, which is really nice. it has made an adjustment to city life that much more bearable.
today at work, speaking with the guidance counselor, i was venting about one of my kids. he'd hit a girl. in the face. repeatedly. generally, i like this kid. he's bright and pretty interesting. i had to restrain myself from blowing up at him for this "incident." ordinarily, back in the countrified world of alachu-ay, i'd have gotten real close and said in no uncertain terms, "gentlemen don't hit ladies. ever. i don't care if she hits you first, you don't do it. period." that made the point, and i never had to repeat it to him.
that argument fell on deaf ears today. he looked at me, "but it's not fair!" i continued with, "ladies first. get used to it. yeah, it's not fair, but as a guy, you get used to it. that's the way of the world."
same response, "but it's not fair!"
the guidance counselor's assessment, "there aren't too many guys like you left, mr. j." that of course got me thinking, is chivalry dead? have men really regressed so far from being polite and good to women that such concepts are going to die out with the generation of kids in my classroom? have "equal rights" or feminism or independent female pride eroded what was left of what i consider to be a decent way to act? why is it that i need to worry about teaching such things to my students?
the fact that i have to teach such things to some (not all) students explicitly is very telling. i'm sure that the majority of my kids' fathers embody the very spirit of chivalry, though few probably explain it as such. i know the fathers certainly will expect it of any boy their daughters date in the future, but who's really teaching it? there's been at least a few kids each year that have gotten my don't-hit-a-woman speech. (is it only male teachers that get on that high horse, or is it just a southern thing?) each year, i need to teach the basic manners of don't eat until everyone's been served. i'm going to bounce this idea off two markedly different groups of people this weekend and see what they think.