BY MR K MANSFIELD
THURSDAY, 18 JANUARY 2018
Sit up straight.
Now listen to me carefully.
I am going to give you the most important lesson of
your life. The earth is in crisis.
Thousands of animal and bird and fish and insect and plant species are becoming extinct. But there is no shortage of people. There are more than 7 billion people on earth. That means that there are more than 3 ½ billion boys and men on earth.
But only a small percentage of all the boys and men on earth still have good manners. In other words, boys and men with good manners (whom we call gentlemen) are becoming extinct, like all the animal and bird and fish and insect and plant species. This is a crisis situation.
And this is the most important reason for your coming to Pretoria Boys High School. Because at this great school we specialise in good manners.
We are fighting a war against bad manners in order to protect our threatened species called gentlemen.
The word gentleman does NOT mean a weak or soft man. It means to be chivalrous, like the mediaeval knights: brave and fearless. It means to be well-bred, well-educated, treating everybody with respect, and being respected by everybody.
Today, you are all different from one another. Some of you are tall. Some are thin. Some are clever, some are vegetarians. Some are good looking. Some read books. Some a sportsmen - the differences are innumerable.
But, in five years' time, you will all be the same. You will all be gentlemen. Everyone will know, as soon as he meets you, that you are a gentleman. Everything about you - your body, your clothes, your language, your actions - will say "I am a gentleman".
In five years' time you will all be gentlemen. And here is the important reason for your becoming a gentleman. No matter who or what you are, at this great school, and in the world outside, if you have good manners, everyone will be willing to help you, and you will achieve your goal of becoming the professional gentleman you want to be.
When you are polite, when you show that you are a gentleman, nobody refuses to help you.
All of your parents and grandparents, and some of your teachers, have tried to teach you good manners - but you still have a lot to learn.
I know from experience that only a few of you already have good manners.
So, listen to me carefully.
Good manners have never been written down in a book. You cannot buy a book and learn them. Instead, we teach one another good manners.
All of these superb young gentlemen, the prefects, whom you see around you, have learnt their good manners at this great school. They were taught their good manners
by their teachers, and by older boys.
And that is how you are going to learn your good manners - by listening to, and by obeying, your teachers, your prefects,
and the boys who are older than you are.
The manners which we teach at this great school are universal - they apply to all nations, all cultures, all societies,
all religions, all trades, all professions.
The manners which we teach at this great school are timeless - they have existed since life began, and
they will continue to exist, because you will soon start teaching them to boys who are younger than you are.
Meanwhile, let me remind you of a few basic rules, so that you will survive your first day of lessons next week, and you can tell your parents tonight that you have already started becoming a real gentleman.
1. Good manners require that you clean your body every day before you come to school, and, when it becomes necessary, that you shave your beard.
2.Good manners require that you never comb your hair or groom
your body in public.
3. Good manners require that your school uniform is clean and neat, and that you wear it with pride, and in the way it is supposed to be worn.
4. Good manners require that you carry a handkerchief or paper tissues in your pocket. A gentleman does not sniff in company, or ask other people to help him to blow his nose.
5. Good manners require that you respect all forms of life, and especially people who are older than you are - no matter whether they are women or men, rich or poor, important or ordinary.
6. Good manners require that when an adult walks past, you stand up smartly and say "Good morning, Sir", or "Good afternoon, Ma'am".
7. Good manners require that you when you are waiting in a line, you stand up straight. Do not lean against a wall, and do not slouch, or stand with your hands in your pockets.
8. Good manners require that you when you are walking, you walk up straight. Do not slouch. Do not drag your feet, and do not walk with your hands in your pockets.
9. Good manners require that you when you are seated, you sit up straight. Do not lie back in your chair, the way you do when you are watching television.
10. Good manners require that you are never late - not for school, not for a class, not for a practice, not for any appointment.
11. Good manners require that you when you get to your classroom, you line up in silence at the door, and wait for your teacher to give you instructions.
12. Good manners require that when the teacher tells you to enter the classroom, you go inside and stand in silence next to the desk, which the teacher has allocated to you, until the teacher greets you and tells you to sit down.
13. Good manners require that you never talk in the classroom, unless the teacher invites you to ask, or to answer a question, and if you want to ask a question, you raise your arm and wait for the teacher to invite you to speak.
14. Good manners require that all your books must be covered, and kept clean and neat and tidy.
15. Good manners require that your work, your handwriting, must be neat, and that your language and spelling must be correct.
16. Good manners require that you never yell out or talk to other boys during a lesson.
17. Good manners require that you never stand up or walk about during a lesson.
18. Good manners require that you never eat or drink during a lesson. You eat and drink only together with your friends, only during breaks.
19.Good manners require that you never walk about carrying a bottle of water, and drinking from it while others have to watch
you drinking. You quench your thirst only during break. 20. Good manners require that you never chew gum, not anywhere.
21. Good manners require that you never, never use foul language, not anywhere, not at any time, not to anyone.
22. Good manners require that you never have to ask for permission to leave the room, unless you are seriously ill. Visit the toilets before school, and during both breaks.
23. Good manners require that when the bell rings at the end of a lesson, you wait for the teacher to give you instructions to pack up, to stand, and to leave.
24. Good manners require that before you leave the classroom, you straighten
your desk and replace the chair neatly underneath it.
25. Good manners require that you pick up and carry to a bin, any litter which you have created, whether you are in a classroom, or out of doors.
26. Good manners require that on your way out of the classroom, you thank your teacher for the lesson.
27. Good manners require that you walk on the left side of the corridors and staircases, on your way to your next lesson.
These are just a few of the good manners which this great school demands of you, and every teacher in this great school expects of you to show these good manners at all times.
Now, sit up straight again and listen to me.
At the end of last year you each received a copy or an emailed copy of the 15-page booklet called "The Code of Conduct". Every teacher in this school possesses a copy of the Code of Conduct. Study it carefully tonight. It is filled with important good manners, and with warnings. Every teacher has already studied it carefully, so, for the next five years there are going to be 100 teachers and 1500 other boys watching you, correcting you, and if necessary, punishing you, if you allow yourself to forget your good manners.
A real gentleman never has to ask permission to do anything. He knows what is the correct behaviour, in the correct place, at the correct time.
But if you don't know what to do, then ask someone and, if for any reason you make a mistake or do something wrong, then have the decency and the good manners to admit to your mistake, and if necessary, to apologise.
Your parents are paying R49 000.00 this year for you to attend this great school. When you divide that huge amount of money by 170 teaching days in the year, and by 7 teaching periods in a day, you discover that every lesson costs nearly R41.00.
Make sure that by having good manners you make it easy for all your teachers to teach you, to the best of their ability, so that you will get good value for your R41.00 per lesson.
In the sandstone blocks above the main entrance to the main school building, and on the honours boards in the foyer of this, the Abernethy Hall, there
are the names of about 130 old boys of this great school who gave their lives so that you and I can live in freedom. Never forget that!
Every old boy of this great school, every teacher of this great school, every pupil of this great school, has been, and is prepared to give his life to defend the good name, and the good manners, of this great school.
If you mess with our good manners, you will be taking on more than you can handle and we will have difficulty in trying to respect you.
If you mess with our good manners, the proud 117 year history of this great school will survive,but your life will become very unpleasant.
If you are not with us, you will be against us, so make up your mind now, to work with us so that you will become the gentleman that everybody wants you to be.
Not long ago I met a woman who was visiting our great school for the first time.
She said that, since her arrival, she had been greeted politely by everyone
who crossed her path and that many of these people had asked whether she required
any assistance with her luggage, or whether she needed to be shown her way
to the member of staff whom she needed to see. She was so pleasantly surprised
by the good manners which she had encounteredat this great school, that she
referred to it as a "well of politeness" in a world in which good manners have dried up, and disappeared.
From today onwards, each of you will be a drop of water in our well of good manners, and you will be expected to show your good manners to everyone you meet, for the rest of your life.
Human beings are mirrors. We automatically reflect everything we are given. When people are polite to us, we are automatically polite to them. When people with bad manner are less than polite to us, we are automatically less than polite to them. We will never be less than polite to you unless you force us into reflecting your own bad manners.
There are 3 phases which have become synonymous with this great school and
which are used by us, and by old boys all over the world. They have been
printed boldly in your Orientation Programme.
One is the Latin motto on
the school badge: Virtute et labore - Manliness and hard work.
The second is the last line of the school song - ‘Tis here we learn to live.
The third is the nickname - the School on the Hill.
I am now going to give you a fourth motto: Always a gentleman. I repeat, Always a gentleman.
Never forget it.
On your programme fortoday, this period is labelled: "School ethos, what is expected of a Boys' High boy". The word ethos means the spirit of a community or the attitudes which exist in a community.
The ethos of this great school is good manners.
We respect every member of our great school, as a unique individual, and we share his pride when he achieves success.
Our worldwide family of Boys High gentlemen includes famous academics, businessmen, scientists, lawyers, musicians, artists, sportsmen - leaders in every sphere of human activity.
If you play a musical instrument well, we will respect you.
If you are an expert in any subject, we will respect you.
If you do well in your school work, we will respect you.
If you do well in your chosen sport, we will respect you.
Everyone has at least one talent. Use your talent well and you will be respected by everyone in this great school. No matter who you are, no matter which area of endeavour you choose, when you do well, we will be proud of you.
And we expect you to show the same respect to every other member of our great school, no matter whether you are interested in his choice of activity, or not.
Every member of this great school shows respect for all its other members, despite our differences. We give everyone the opportunity
to excel, and to become the best he can possibly be, in whatever he has chosen to excelin.
That is the ethos of this great school.
Now I come to the question: What is expected of a Boys' High boy?
A few years ago, the principal of the University of the Free State visited a good school in Umlazi, near Durban. He was very impressed by everything he saw there. He stopped a little girl and asked her, "Why isyour school such a good school?", to which shereplied, "The teachers expect much from us".
At this great school Mr Reeler expects much from all the teachers. The teachers expect much from one another and the teachers expect much from their pupils - which is exactly what the little girl said about her school in Umlazi.
Your parents are making great sacrifices in order to give you a privileged
education. Your parents also expect much from you. Therefore, if your parents
and teachers expect much from you, they and we expect you to expect much
Work hard! Excel yourselfin everything you do!
And by being excellent all the time, you will be helping to ensure that this great school continues to be called "The Best School in the World"!
Welcome to "The Best School in the World". Your five years here are going to be the best years of your life.