While teaching our students proper respect is a year around job, the weeks between Pesach and Shvuos are an opportune time to put special emphasis on this vital subject. After all, teaching proper manners and respect must be an integral part of the yeshivah curriculum and one is not fulfilling his duty if it is left out.
While it is far easier to teach a posuk Chumash or Gemarah then the teaching of Derech Eretz, we are not permitted to neglect it. By teaching proper manners, politeness and respect we do not mean only toward Parents or teachers but also between students themselves as well as to the goy in the street.
A child that dares mock an English teacher or another student in the class must be chastised and corrected. We cannot remain complacent when we hear of such behavior. If we disregard it, then students learn that we don’t care.
One must develop a sixth sense and learn to detect character flaws in our students’ behavior toward one another and know how to correct them. Name-calling, mocking, put downs, hurting others feelings must be pointed out to them and corrected. One must be very observant and learn to recognize these types of problems. We should be on the alert for kids that are being picked on for their dress, their mannerisms, their grades, etc.
Teaching them sensitivity for other people’s feelings is extremely important and takes precedence over all else. Instilling politeness and respect for their peers as well as for others must be our prime concern.
It starts by teaching them to say good morning to the bus driver and a please and thank you to those helping to serve lunch and continues to more subtle mannerisms and politeness for others.