Ben Hill is a reporter for The New Zealand Herald

School looking to cure etiquette ills caused by social media set to open in Auckland

Pippa Lynch-Blosse, 8, (left) and friend Natalia Gilchrist, 8, show off their table manners in Portofino restaurant, Takapuna. Photo / Nick Reed
Pippa Lynch-Blosse, 8, (left) and friend Natalia Gilchrist, 8, show off their table manners in Portofino restaurant, Takapuna. Photo / Nick Reed

Children as young as seven are being enrolled at an Auckland training school offering courses on good manners.

Etiquette school Mr and Mrs Manners is set to open for classes in April this year, with courses ending with a fancy dinner at Antoine's Restaurant in the swanky Auckland suburb of Parnell.

In addition to teaching table manners and communication skills, the school will also offer classes on proper dating etiquette.

Jodi Tempero decided to open the school after noticing her daughter Asia's less-than-perfect table manners.

"If it's just me and her at the dinner table, she'll put her feet up on the table, or chew with her mouth open... that's not okay. I've seen adults before while out at restaurants with just the same poor behaviour.

"I don't think there is any manners these days, kids are all too busy looking at a computer screen. Kids these days have become very self-absorbed. My daughter was the number one reason that I started the school. We need to be putting more time into our manners."

The school is scheduled to open in April, and Tempero said the cost of the programme is yet to be determined.

She said she's been inundated with interest from parents, some with children as young as a year old. The classes will be tailored to specific age groups, from 7 up to 20.

Included in the programme will be table setting, how to wash and stack a dishwasher, verbal, texting and email communication, grooming and interview preparation, laundry, respect for peers, teachers, parents and the elderly, and dating.

"We're going to start the classes at 7, any younger and that's the parents' job I think.

"I don't claim to be an expert in manners and etiquette and frequently can be heard to use the word f*** more than once or twice. However I am passionate about respect and bringing some form of the lost art back to the dinner table and social situations.

"There's a lack of respect for the elderly...[manners are] something that is so needed in society."

She is critical of social media, claiming it has a negative impact on young people's communication skills.

"Children don't talk to one another anymore unless it's through Instagram or texting. It's incredibly sad.

"Families are busy and with less and less parents unable to stay at home full time to raise their children they are missing out on the basics in table manners and general social etiquette."

The dating classes would be a key part of the course, with Tempero saying it is a "lost art" in today's world, harking back to "a bygone era when ladies were given elocution lessons and prepared to become debutantes and marry wealthy husbands".

"Whether you like it or not, people do judge on manners. I know a guy who stopped dating a woman because her manners were appalling."

5 manners tips for today's world

Table Manners

Don't chew with your mouth open. Its not appetizing for others to look at! And is my all time pet peeve

Sit up. Don't slouch.

Don't leave the table until others have finished eating.

Don't wave your fork around. Its not only distracting for other people but rude.

Dating Manners

Learn the art of verbally asking your date out instead of sending a text. Its outright lazy and rude!

Social & Party Manners

It's a good idea not to text your private bits to someone your trying to impress. Major fail! Furthermore, it stays online for life and could come back to haunt you when you're going for that important job interview

A thank you note for gifts received or post dinner invite is greatly appreciated but rarely happens. Everyone appreciates being acknowledged

School Manners / Communication

Basic 'Please' and 'Thank-you'. What has happened to the use of these words?
'Youse' is not a word!

Interview & Work Manners

Walk into a room confidentially and upright, shake the person's hand and introduce yourself.

Look them in the eye.

Have clean and tidy finger nails. Another pet peeve! No one wants to look at dirty nails.

- NZ Herald

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