In a better world it wouldn’t just be limited to the service academies. But, we don’t live in a better world, so we have to settle, for now, for the Air Force Academy’s effort to produce graduates who are officers and gentlemen.
All things considered, the Academy is teaching undergraduates many of the skills that I, as one among many, believe are basic to a successful life. They begin with etiquette, because what does it mean to respect another individual when your table manners ruin his appetite. Then they move on to the art of conversation, comprising how to be tactful and diplomatic and how to function under stress. Can anyone have a good relationship, of any kind, without knowing how to conduct a conversation.
Time Magazine can only wax whimsical about it all, but the effort is decidedly serious:
That’s because being an Air Force officer is not all tarmac, cockpits and ready rooms. According to the academy, it’s also “table etiquette (settings, seating, decorum, conversation), the art of conversation (tact and diplomacy, small talk, use of proper language style, body language and non-verbal communication), social conduct in stressful situations, leadership roles outside the military structure, and ceremonies.”
What the academy calls its “social decorum” curriculum has been under development for “several years.” Following this single-year contract, the academy says such training will be done by academy employees.
Social decorum… it’s been lost over the years. Regaining it would be a boon to young people. Time described the curriculum:
Freshmen training “shall emphasize courtesies and standards of behavior, proper hygiene, how to be a guest, social conversations, and writing thank-you cards.”
Sophomores “shall be taught etiquette in small group situations, proper civilian dress standards, table etiquette (settings, seating, decorum, and conversation), receiving line etiquette and military dining-in/out etiquette.”
Juniors “shall be taught social introductions, how to behave when alcohol is available, how to plan social events, and how to communicate standards of behavior to their peers and subordinates.”
Seniors will get “Formal Decorum Training,” which means they’ll receive “experiential, semi-formal dinners to teach first-class cadets the do’s and don’ts of formal dining. The events will also be used to teach proper invitation and RSVP procedures, proper semi-formal civilian attire standards, and social event planning.”
Imagine a world were other college students received the same training, perhaps on a voluntary basis. Wouldn’t it be far better than forced sensitivity training and week-long seminars on multiple orgasms?