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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

When to say Thank You

Two ten years old were sitting side by side yesterday. They will be writing their eleven plus examinations later this week. One was working on revising mathematics and the other on a verbal reasoning exercise. Both asked for help in the time honoured way - by raising their hands.

Two of us moved over to where they were sitting and helped as best we could. As we moved away one child said, `Thank you,’ and smiled. The other did not make eye contact – and did not say anything.

We were in the fortunate position of not having to say, “What do you say?” We had provided a service. The parent was paying for the service. The child knew what to do. End of story.

We are now seeing signs in shops saying: “Thank you for not smoking.” This form of thank you is very different to us even thinking that a child should say thank you.

Some children are naturally gracious and appreciative. Others do not show their appreciation in the same way. As teachers and educators are we in a position to judge?

The child may not have been aware that as far as the teacher was concerned that the topic had been dealt with. The child may have felt that even though the teacher had left there was still more work to be done. The thanks would have come later. Perhaps, even, the topic had not been dealt with to the child’s satisfaction. With an examination just a few days away the child may have been thinking about how to solve a similar problem under examination conditions.

It is very difficult to demand or expect manners if we do not have all the facts.

Perhaps all we can do is be confident that when the occasion warrants thanks and appreciation we know our child will deliver.

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