Educating the ‘what’s in it for me’ generation

Wednesday July 25, 2012

http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2012/7/25/nation/11717234&sec=nation

PETALING JAYA: More focus on basic etiquette is necessary to deal with the increasingly self-absorbed attitude of the younger generation, educators say.

Psychologist and lecturer Dr Adnan Omar said Malaysians’ bad manners can be attributed to society’s over-prioritising productivity and lack of emphasis on social norms, causing people to become increasingly selfish.

“Too much emphasis on this has produced a ‘what’s in it for me’ attitude. Every social encounter has to bring some sort of monetary benefit, or else it is not worth the effort. If I see rubbish on the floor, what’s in it for me to pick it up? If I take the time to hold the door for someone, what’s in it for me? Time is money, therefore there is no room for someone else’s feelings,” he said.

“Society needs to realise that even in the pursuit of economic development, we cannot forget to be civic conscious.

“Simple things like saying ‘thank you’ and holding open a door for others make all the difference.”

Teacher trainer Nga Johnson said the Moral Education and Civic subjects need to include topics like acceptable behaviour on social networks and handphone etiquette.

Nga, who served as a teacher for 36 years, said, however, that parents play the largest role in teaching the young to behave appropriately.

“Many parents today are too indulgent with their children.

“There should be basic household rules like not being allowed to use their handphones during meal times and greeting visitors who come to the house.

“If parents don’t instil these values in their children, who will?” she asked.

Society also has a role to play in inculcating good manners among youth, Nga said.

“We should not shy away from gently correcting someone younger if they are seen or heard being impolite,” she said.

Image consultant Rachel Sua said rude practices and inconsiderate behaviour have tarnished the image of Malaysians who are known to be friendly, warm and hospitable.