With Thanksgiving around the corner, this year we have much to be thankful for.  The pandemic which has separated us from family and friends makes it difficult sometimes to count our blessings. Rather than taking one day to acknowledge what you are grateful for, why not take a moment every evening to reflect on the best part of your day.

A creative way to do this is with a Gratitude Pumpkin. All you need is a pumpkin and a sharpie, and each night you can take a moment to write one thing on the pumpkin that you are thankful for. Start at the top and wrap the words all the way around the pumpkin until it is full. If you live alone, this is a great time for self-reflection and positivity and if you have children, it is a great way to get their creativity flowing. They will be excited each night to contribute their addition to the pumpkin. It is wonderful to watch the pumpkin grow with so many reminders of how lucky and blessed you and your family are.

If you begin writing on your pumpkin on Thanksgiving Day, it will be filled with words and ideas that have brought you happiness right up to Christmas. It will also be the perfect unexpected addition to your Christmas centerpiece and a great conversation starter to share with your extended family as you sit around the table and reflect. Sometimes we all need those little reminders that happiness can be found in each and every day and your gratitude pumpkin can do just that.

With school shootings, cyber bullying and teen suicide on the rise around our country, our youth need help. 

The “do unto others” foundation of former generations seems to be lacking in today’s youth who have no focus on core ethical values. 

Children should be learning these skills sets in school, but often times they are not.  With many schools limiting character building classes and activities due to academic pressure paired with more working  parents, who is responsible for these teachings?

Children spend more time at school and extracurricular activities than ever before.  The lack of  instruction is now becoming more apparent with schools coming under heavy scrutiny concerning the well-being and education of our children.  

“In the long run, I’m not sure that it matters if a student learns algebra, but I know that it matters if a student learns right from wrong,” says George Booz, former principal at South Carroll High School in Sykesville, Maryland, a school nationally recognized for its character education program.

“I know that it matters if a person learns that in this world we have to help each other. I don’t see how we get around that.”

Character Education is a process of teaching children the importance of core ethical values, such as tolerance, respect and compassion. 

Character Education has been shown to provide a 23% increase in social and emotional skills, an 11% improvement on achievement test scores, a 9% reduction in problem behaviors and a 52% increase in graduation rate. 

Effective programs engage children in hands-on activities where good character is emphasized throughout the school environment as well as through the curriculum. 

While studies show 93% of teachers support Character Education in schools, these teachings are most effective when they start in our homes.

Whether you are a parent, educator, friend or family member, each and every one of us who comes in contact with a child plays an important role in their development. 

It’s time to stop asking who is responsible. We are all responsible for helping to guide today’s children into compassionate, kind and confident young adults of tomorrow.

With time ticking and the need growing, The American School of Protocol® has created a new 1-Day Training Conference, Cultivating Character™ to help combat this crisis.

A Pre-K through High School series, Cultivating Character™ provides excellent benefits to anyone working closely with children.  Participants in Cultivating Character™ will receive the education and materials needed to become an influential instructor. 

For more information on Cultivating Character™ and how you can help click here

A recent article featured in the Guardian by Alex Hern entitled ‘Never get high on your own supply’ delved into why social media bosses don’t use social media. Reading that the very people who invented these social sites and strongly promote them don’t use them might be a surprise to many.

Social media has such a strong presence in our culture today, so it's quite astonishing that the ‘founding fathers’ of social media object to using it. What do they know that we don’t?

#1 social media influences how we feel about ourselves and the world we live in

#2 it is compulsive and addictive

#3 we have no idea what the repercussions of using social will be

The article shares that the people who created these social platforms know all of this and they use it to their advantage.

Sean Parker, the founding president of Facebook, exclaimed that he is “a conscientious objector” to social media at a conference this past October. Parker  is sounding the alarm to the dangers of social media and the deliberate ways that social networks do everything in their power to keep us coming back, even at the risk of hurting our brains.

The common understanding of what is considered appropriate has been drastically morphed over the years. Just log on to any social media site and you can immediately see the bullying and spewing of disrespectful rhetoric about race, politics, religion and everything in between. Could this transformation have to do with social media?

A recent national survey reported that an astonishing 75 percent of Americans believe that incivility has risen to crisis levels. Many people believe that technology plays a central role in the decline of good manners.

Stories of individuals being fired and even arrested for things they have said on social media sites have amounted to the thousands.  In late 2007, The American School of Protocol was asked to write the 'Dos and Don'ts of Using Technology and Social Media' into our Etiquette Certification curriculum because social media classes were in high demand. 

Technology and social media have reshaped the understanding and awareness of etiquette. Personal interaction is now being replaced with screen time, texts, online classes, dms, snapchats, and so on. And we are only just beginning to see the effects this has on our society. 

Apple’s chief executive, Tim Cook, said “Technology by itself doesn’t want to be good and it doesn’t want to be bad either. It takes humans to make sure that the things that you do with it are good.”

Since including our initial 'Dos and Don'ts of Using Technology and Social Media'' into our syllabus, we have written extensively on this topic to help educate others.  New content has been added every year and we ultimately had to give 'Technology and Communication' its own section in our training manual. 

"We are doing our best to combat the problem, but it would be easier if we had more support", says The American School of Protocol Founder, Peggy Newfield. Her words to those who want to listen,"Be aware of what you post, how you respond, and what you read. Social media already takes up much of our time and energy, don't let it take your dignity." 

22A common understanding of etiquette has been drastically morphed over the years.  Today's younger generation is characterized by rudeness, compared to traditional standards of etiquette. Are children substituting personal interactions for screen time?

A recent article from the New York Times claims that Screen Addiction Is Taking a Toll on Children.  We know that technology is a poor substitute for personal interaction and we are only just beginning to see the effects this has on our youth.  Many people believe that technology plays a central role in the decline of good manners and the media agrees.

The integration of technology and social media into nearly each and every act of interpersonal communication, particularly among young people, is changing the common understanding of what is considerate behavior and what is inappropriate.

In a 2013 policy statement on "Children, Adolescents, and the Media," the American Academy of Pediatrics cited these shocking statistics from a Kaiser Family Foundation study in 2010: "The Average 8-to 10-year-old spends nearly 8 hours a day with a variety of media, and older children and teenagers spend more than 11 hours per day."

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The less face-time our youth have with others, the less accountable they are for their behavior.  If someone is rude or inappropriate online, they may never have to answer for their behavior in-person.

It is difficult to understand the virtual implications of inconsiderate treatment.  With this new wave of children using electronics for their education, communication and as an extracurricular activity, we have to ask ourselves, what will the repercussions be later?

33Multitasking using electronics is helping our children,  but at the same time they are losing sight of what is most important; human interaction. A study published in Computers in Human Behavior found that sixth graders who went to an outdoor camp and gave up smartphones, iPads, and television cold turkey for just five days were substantially better at reading human emotions than sixth graders from the same school who did not go to the camp and gave up the digital devices.

The more time children spend glued to the screen, the harder it becomes for them to relate and connect emotionally with others.  We need to teach children and adults that face to face interactions are just as important as virtual ones, before it is too late.

Mobile communications and social media have re-shaped the understanding and awareness of etiquette both virtually and in-person. We are going to44 have to find ways to connect with our youth and bring them out of the electronic world they are living in. During our 5-day Training, our Certified Etiquette teachers are gaining the knowledge and  tools to connect with this generation.

As ASP moves forward, our main goal is to spread awareness and create a kinder environment for all.  We will continue developing products that connect with our children and provide them with skill sets that allow them to succeed, build strong character and morals. In time, we will know the real implications that excessive screen time is having on our youth. For now we must push to instill manners, respect and kindness. Electronics will never be able to teach personal communication.

6In honor of National Teachers Day, we dedicate this blog to every teacher who has made a difference in someone's life.

One of the hardest jobs in our society today is the task of being a teacher. Teachers are the backbone of America; they represent the past, present, and future.

Teachers are among the most deserving because they are the positive driving force for our youth. During the ages of 6 - 12 years old, children spend more time in school than hours spent at home.

If you are a teacher, The American School of Protocol would like to personally thank you for your hard work, patience, understanding and dedication. Our future is in your hands.

At The American School of Protocol, our #1 goal is to provide teachers with the information and resources they need to aid in teaching life skills and civility. From pre-k all the way through college, teachers are a vital part of our children's lives.

Teachers Are Passionate: The passion a teacher radiates is contagious. Great teachers are the ones who have an undeniable passion for teaching and helping others. One of the greatest ways to engage others is to show an enthusiasm for subject matter and excitement when teaching.

Teaching Group

Teachers Don't Accept Failure: Teachers recognize that student success is the most important goal and will take whichever angle or strategy necessary, to help a student achieve an understanding. Students will make mistakes and some will take longer to learn how to solve problems or grasp the subject matter. However, teachers provide an environment where risk taking is encouraged and mistakes are accepted.

5456Teachers Are Positive: Teachers know that their challenging job is hard and unpredictable, but they remain positive because of how important their attitude is and how much they care. The word "no" is not in their vocabulary because there is nothing that they can't do.

Teachers Are Organized: Teachers have a round the clock job... when they are not delivering lessons to the students, they are preparing. Teachers recognize that their job is constant; the best way to teach a student is through preparation and organization.

Teachers Are Flexible: A teacher knows that there will be bumps in the road and plans will change. For those days when fieldtrips are cancelled or a guest speaker doesn't show up, teachers are always prepared with a backup plan. Also teachers recognize that they can learn from their students.

4If there is a teacher who has made a lasting impression and had a positive effect on your life, make time to show appreciation by remembering them with a call, a card or an e-mail. Teachers are the backbone of America and without them our leaders, inventors, entrepreneurs, corporate decision makers, etc., would not be where they are today.

Our newspapers and television are filled with data on budget cuts for education throughout the United States.  Educating our youth is not someone else’s problem, it is a problem that rests firmly on each American’s shoulders.

There is an enormous connection between poverty and academic success.  Slashing funding and scholarship money allows America’s youth to fall further behind the rest of the world.  That translates into a work force that brings our economy down.  As a society, in order for our nation to prosper, education should be one of our country’s top priorities.

At The American School of Protocol®, we firmly believe and support the fact that “a mind stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimension.”

Education for our children is worth investing in.  They are our countries next leaders and America’s future.