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Chivalry needs to be promoted in classrooms

A Latin teacher at Gilbert Classical Academy in Arizona has attracted national attention by mandating chivalry in his classes. Cord Ivanyi requires males to hold doors open and offer seats to females.

“All boys will understand chivalry. It’s teaching them social grace. It’s things they should know when they do go out on dates,” Ivanyi said to The Arizona Republic.

The teacher was motivated to make these rules after observing chaotic student behavior.

“This year, after watching a mass of boys literally push through a line of girls who were waiting to get food for a class party, I was bothered by the lack of respect either sex seemed to have for the other.” Ivanyi said to ABC News. “The next day, I sat down with them at the beginning of the class and asked them if they considered what decency was.”

Ivanyi is right. Chivalry should be promoted in classrooms because it is a practical way to teach politeness and harmony, not only between genders but among everyone.

Some argue that chivalry actually hurts women because it puts them on a pedestal.

“Chivalry … is straight up based on the idea that women are weaker (and) need to be taken care of. It’s insulting,” Jessica Valenti said on her blog at Feministing.com.

Negative discrimination would result in glass ceilings and the relegation of women to the domestic sphere. But there is a difference between positive and negative discrimination.

Boys today are growing up in a post-modernist period in which misogynistic attitudes are out of place, so there is no danger in teaching them to respect the opposite sex.

It’s a good way for girls to value boys as well. Females do not have to feel insulted. They can always refuse a male’s nice gesture.

The National Organization for Women (NOW) is ambivalent about teaching chivalry in classrooms.

“We see it as teaching kids to treat people differently because they’re girls. I don’t want to seem like an angry, raging feminist. I’m sure some of the boys and teachers in the school wouldn’t mind the door being held open for them, too,” NOW acting vice president Erin Matson said to ABC News.

Teaching both genders to be nice to each other is good, but generalized courtesy rules are often futile in schools where students sometimes behave like animals. However, Ivanyi’s approach has been successful. Boys hold doors open, and the girls love it.

Florida educators ought to consider either mandating chivalry or finding novel ways to teach politeness because no individual should respect him or herself without first respecting others.

Neil Manimala is a junior majoring in biomedical sciences.