Say what? When was the last time you came across that word (if ever)? When I typed in “deportment” on Google, I was immediately asked if I meant “department.” No, the word I wanted was indeed “deportment,” and I hadn’t seen or heard it in years.
I subscribe to a weekly ezine from a Pennsylvania physician, who began writing his “Lessons Learned on the Journey” while serving as a medical missionary in Hungary. In them, I often find something that triggers memories of events that have taken place in my own journey through this world of ours.
In one issue, he reminisced about the report cards he got from grade school when he was a boy, and describes one going back to his father’s own elementary school days. He writes: “In addition to the usual subject areas, deportment – not a word we use often today – was measured.”
Basically, the word means behavior or conduct. My dictionary (Merriam-Webster) defines is as “the manner in which one conducts oneself,” and traces its origin to 1601. Now, I don’t go back quite that far, but “Deportment” was definitely a category on my grade school report cards, and was at least partly the reason why the days when I had to present them at home don’t rank among my happiest memories of childhood.
Nevertheless, I think it was a good idea, and the fact that our children today aren’t rated on their conduct or behavior in the classroom may have something to do with the problems we so often hear about in our schools.