For your guidance

Girls at Sacred Heart College in the 1950s and 60s each received a little publication when they reached Secondary school. Titled 'For Your Guidance' it was a code of behaviour for growing into a finely-moulded young person of grace and character as well as a welcome member among Mercy Secondary pupils. It begins with ‘School Regulations’ and gives a code of behaviour to observe including: punctuality, silence (on the stairs, in classrooms and the toilet block!), tidiness, obedience, respect for prefects and care of school property.

The deportment section offers this helpful advice,

‘Pupils should stand erect. They should never lean on walls, posts, or doorways, nor sit on ports. Hands should be kept away from the face. Feet should always be together. Girls should not sit with legs stretched out in front of them. Pupils should walk with their heads up, chins in and their shoulders down and back and should look where they are going. They should not run except on the sports field.’

Courtesy is addressed next in the book and some of the advice given shows just how 45 years on time has changed.

‘Pupils are not to go into cafes, milk bars or telephone booths on their way to or from school and to go home direct from school. Chewing gum is forbidden, as also is eating on their way to or from school, whether in the street or on public transport.’

‘Pupils must not lie on the ground.’

Next is a Code of Manners for home, in church, on the street, introductions, visiting, conversation, at the table, correspondence, at the theatre and at parties or dances. Here the advice for being on the street is:

‘You should avoid loud laughter and talking in the street. Well-mannered people do not stand to converse in the street unless the conversation is very short. You should walk along with your friend if you have anything to say.’

‘It is the place of the lady to bow first if she meets a gentleman of her acquaintance. In bowing to a lady he is not going to address, a man should lift his hat with the hand farther from her, for instance, if passing her on the right, he should lift his hat with his left hand.’

For visiting, this advice is offered

‘If you possess any musical accomplishments, comply simply if your hostess asks you to play or sing. Only the hostess has the right to ask you, so if others ask, decline in some polite way.’

The art of pleasant conversation is a very valuable social asset and should be carefully cultivated, here is what 'For Your Guidance' offers:

‘Loud talking and laughter are both disagreeable and vulgar. Whispering in company is a sign of ill breeding.’

At parties, school girls should be escorted to and from by an adult and should be few in the year and,

‘Dancing with the same partner for the entire night is not desirable. It is recommended that a boy have no more than three dances with one girl’

‘Boys should learn the “good manners” associated with dancing, e.g., asking a girl properly for a particular dance, and bringing her to her place after the dance.’

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