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The Transition of Etiquette

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Valerie Maldonado – Managing Editor

Last month, I read a response to a survey that was conducted at my mom’s church about etiquette. The goal of the survey was to find out how much etiquette in schools has changed since the 1950’s. I decided to look at some of the changes myself. And here are my reasons why etiquette has changed over the last fifty to sixty years.
In the 1950’s, women primarily wore dresses, skirts, and blouses on a daily basis. This expectation had been a part of a woman’s life since birth. Within the United States, a revolution was in progress in which women were starting to redefine the “American woman.” Gradually throughout the 1960’s this revolution became more visible by the clothing choices. Women were seen wearing slacks, jeans, and more provocative clothing styles. There were still dress codes enforced in most schools, though girls were starting to create more options for school clothes compared to their mothers. By the mid 1970’s to today that dress code has become more relaxed for school aged girls as well as women.

Men have not been a part of this type of revolution because their style of dress has never been a definition of the “American man.” Their style of dress has been related to the type of work community in which he belonged. Nowadays, girls and boys may have to follow a certain dress code related to color and style of shirts and pants, but are no longer restricted to either their role in society or their role in the community.

From the survey’s question of classroom rule policies and the policy of prayer versus the Pledge of Allegiance, I realized how changes in etiquette can be correlated with many events in United States history. The post World War II American culture underwent gradual changes that started with the breakdown of the family structure. Children started to push the boundaries of rules because what once was a two parent household was slowly turning into a single parent household. Most classroom rules have stayed the same since the 1950’s, though the enforcement of the rules has changed the most. Parents and teachers have lost many degrees of authority due to state and federal laws and there are parents who have opted to ignore their parental responsibilities. Overall, the expectations of students have been downgrading at a rapid rate for far too long.
Many survey participants stated that at one time prayer was allowed though by the beginning of high school it had been outlawed. Even today, the argument of a direct separation of church and state still exists, though now it is the Pledge of Allegiance that is under scrutiny.

Since the 1950’s, the etiquette in schools not only changed between generations but the etiquette of everyone has changed, and definitely not for the better.