Etiquette and Good Manners

During my regional visits last week I had the opportunity to hear stories of St Hilda’s ‘days gone by’ as our Boarding Old Scholars reminisced about a time that prioritised the simpler things in life.

A time when good manners and etiquette soared and a rich and diverse vocabulary was encouraged and used to build positive relationships and lasting connections.

As we look ahead to our 125 year anniversary next year, we appreciate that there have been significant social changes, many of which have been improvements for women. However, one thing has, fortunately, remained and that is the value of good manners. Good manners can take you a long way.

Etiquette and good manners are, and always will be, important aspects of a St Hilda’s education because positive human interactions will always be valued. It’s true that our girls are growing up in a different social reality where interactions are summarised by a sea of acronyms (OMG, LOL, K and my personal favourite, POS – parent over shoulder!). This generation is growing up in a digitalised world and navigating through a blend of human and virtual interactions. I do believe, however, that good manners will never go out of fashion.

At the Year 12 Ball last Friday our young ladies and their companions lined up to formally greet and introduce themselves to the welcoming party. This is an old school tradition and one that I believe should remain. Some may suggest this is ‘old school’ or ‘old fashioned’, but the simple act of each girl and her companion making eye contact, engaging in a firm handshake and introducing themselves is a very important practice (if slightly daunting for their partners!). There are few occasions these days when today’s generation engage in formal occasions and might display the manners and etiquette that accompany these special events.

The way in which our young ladies and their partners conducted themselves was very impressive. As I looked around the sea of tables, across 300 young women and gentlemen enjoying the evening and dancing, I also noticed the small things beyond the stunning dresses and glamorous accessories. They all waited to eat until everyone was served. Also, as they moved around tables catching up with familiar faces, they stood up to greet each other, and they held the door open for one another as they crossed the venue through to the balcony. Too often the ‘youth of today’ are harshly criticised in the media for their lack of manners and etiquette but last Friday night was the opposite of this perception. I could not have been prouder of how our young women and their guests conducted themselves.

We know that the teaching of good manners starts at home, so thank you parents and guardians for role modelling and investing in good manners for the next generation.

A highlight this week was celebrating International Women’s Day with our Year 10 girls and their mothers and significant women in their lives. It was wonderful to welcome back to St Hilda’s Old Scholar Bec Johnson, who is CEO of the Type 1 Diabetes Family Centre, as our special guest.

I encourage you all to take time this week to thank the amazing women in your lives who have encouraged, inspired and motivated you to be the strong, confident and intelligent women you are today.

Here’s to strong women, may we know them, may we be them, may we raise them.